If you are set for a multi-day vacation spree outside the country, finding a way to call home could be a struggle if you are not prepared. Many countries still do not have widespread Internet access, sometimes even no Internet (or phones) at all.
There are many ways to call loved ones at home while you are out of the country that are not only convenient, but also cost close to free.
Skype – This software can be installed easily on your laptop and can be spotted in many Internet cafes around the world. Skype allows you to make calls through the Internet for as little as 2 cents a minute, depending on where you call. It is very advisable to bring your own headset so you do not have to worry about broken or dirty headsets on Internet cafes. Also, look for Internet cafes during off-peak hours and make sure you log off of Skype before leaving.
Localphone – This service works similarly to Skype, enabling you to call family and friends via the Internet. The difference with Localphone.com is that it offers much cheaper international call and text rates. Calls to United States costs just half a cent per minute, regardless where you are calling from. Students even get a bonus for funding their account. It is available on both iPhone and Android smartphones.
Calling cards – Many countries offer prepaid calling cards that allows you to call home using a local landline or smartphone. Although its basic rates are low, check if they provide even lower rates on off-peak hours. Also, certain phones require specific cards and check whether rates are increased if calls are made from mobile phones and pay phones. These can be bought in convenience stores
The callback trick – This calling service is one of the oldest tricks in the book. First, call the callback service such as GlobalTel, using a unique provided number, and let it ring one time before hanging up. Once the phone rings back, answer it and call the usual way. Note that callback services are banned in some countries.
Mobile phones – Making calls from your smartphone, through your usual wireless carrier, can be very expensive. This is why many travelers opt to buy simpler, unlocked, cell phones packed with local prepaid SIM cards. Load your SIM cards conveniently through phone credit stores and call home using international call rates imposed by the card’s carrier, which is usually cheaper.