Phoning It In from Abroad

18 Jul

Phoning Home from AbroadWhether it’s a real-job deadline or a much-needed reconnection with Honey/Mom/Daughter/Doggie, easy access to our phones and those on the other end can be hard to do without, and even harder to pay for. Before you sign up for that overseas plan at Verizon (the Ouch! comes on the other end of your travel), take a look at this suggestion from National Geographic Traveler’s Christopher Elliott. Also chirpily parroted by my son, who knows these things.

“Don’t purchase a pricey international plan from your wireless carrier. For example, AT&T’s least expensive rate costs an extra $30 per month and charges $1 a minute for your calls in Scandinavia [or Narnia — you get the idea]. Instead, when you get to your destination, buy a SIM card or a phone that offers cheap data and make all your calls on Skype, Google, or Viber, which won’t cost extra.”

I used this trick on my recent trip to Barcelona, stopping in at the ubiquitous Vodaphone a couple of blocks from our apartment as soon as I arrived. For $15, the tech popped a brand new SIM card into my iPhone (cheaper for other brands), gave me a fancy Spanish phone number, and I was good to go. I had downloaded Viber (free) before leaving the US, and was able to call home on a whim at no additional cost. If you exchange your nifty new Spanish phone numbers, it’s also a great way to stay in touch with other members of your travel party. Just make sure that Honey/Mom/Daughter/Doggie had downloaded the same free calling program on their end too.

Travel TipsMy son also clued me in on easy re-entry: packing a small paper clip in your carryon. Open the clip by pulling an arm open, and it fits right into the tiny iPhone hole to open the SIM card holder. Slip your US SIM card back in the slot, and slide that Spain card somewhere safe for your next trip to Barcelona.

Can you say Cheap?!

 

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