I’ve tried out a voice, data and unlimited text plan for one international trip. It was nice to have but the issue was that with AT&T you have to pay for a whole month. I only traveled internationally for 5 days of that month. Back in the day as in maybe 2 years ago you could purchase a text only plan or a voice only international plan. I purchased the plan for over $30 and of course no one called me. I found myself randomly texting people while on vacation to get use out of the unlimited international text message plan.
While I was in Turks and Caicos I noticed all of the locals asked me if I have WhatsApp. I was confused as I hadn’t heard of that app since early iPhones days. I responded that I have Instagram, they looked as confused as I was about WhatsApp. Since that one time of purchasing an international plan I have found other ways to communicate with family and friends while traveling abroad.
As long as you have an internet connection these apps can help you stay connected while abroad:
This app is great for group trips. It creates a private group chat no matter what device you are on. It makes it easy to plan the trip and communicate during the trip. After a day of everyone taking pictures and capturing videos you can share them with the group and creates a gallery view. Also you can create an event within the GroupMe or create a split a bill on GroupMe. I haven’t created a bill on Groupme yet but I did create an event within a group to have an easy reference point for an itinerary for the trip. Users in the group can also receive the messages as SMS if they don’t have the app. However for international travel it is best to have the app so that you won’t be charged for international SMS.
This app requires both users to have the app. You can send messages, videos and pics to a single user. You can also use the app to make calls over Wi-Fi to other WhatsApp users. Add this app before you leave as it will need to access your voice plan to configure with your phone number. You can send text messages and place video calls. If the person is not available you can leave a video voicemail. This is my favorite app to use!
I’m sure all iPhone users are rolling their eyes because they can communicate with Wi-Fi as well but shocking as it may be to apple lovers, not everyone has an apple device to communicate with you. The Skype feature with free minutes is very important since it allows you to call landlines (non cellphones). I was able to use this to call for car service in Thailand.
Thanks to my friends during my Thailand travels they alerted me of this app. I have heard on the service before as being similar to Vonage but there is a smart phone application available. The app is free and the free service allows free calls to the U.S or Canada and free app to app or app to jack calls. Your call will come through as a random number. You can pay additional for an assigned U.S. number and international calls.
Viber is another option that allows video calls and free messages to other Viber members over the internet. “Viber out” allows you to make international calls at a discounted rate. You can check a country rate on the website or app.
Google hangouts integrates well with your gmail account, google voice number and google drive. Calls are free domestically if you have a Google voice number. However when you are abroad calls between google hangout users are free.
If you don’t want to use any of those, you can keep it simple by using your existing social media. You can send private messages on all social media. You can video call on Facebook or create a private broadcast on Periscope. There are a ton of ways to communicate while abroad. All you need is a reliable internet connection. Preferably free Wi-Fi. Check for information on Wi-Fi availability before traveling. If you are worried about internet access in the country, check for the availability for international plans in the country you are traveling to.
If you don’t plan to purchase an international plan and want to communicate over Wi-Fi, make sure your phone is on the appropriate settings before traveling so you won’t incur international roaming charges. My phone stays on airplane mode the whole time. If you take it off for even a minute without a plan, you will receive charges.
These are just a few. The easiest way is to pick a couple and make sure all your friends and family members have access to that app. The most common I have seen are Skype, GroupMe and WhatsApp. Are there any other applications or websites you use and love? Comment below!
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