When you’re away from home for an extended period of time, one of the first things most of us miss is how easy it is to communicate with family and friends when at home. It goes without saying that we miss the people we care about, but when you have to jump through a dozen different hoops just to send a Facebook message or leave a voicemail, the ease of communication we enjoy with technology becomes just that much more apparent. Whether you’re planning an overseas vacation, you travel a lot for business, or you’re getting ready to deploy, one of the most common search queries is how to make international calls or generally how to stay in touch while you travel without racking up immense cell phone bills. If making international calls is one of your big concerns, here are a few different options:
International Cell and Data Plans
First and foremost, a general warning: don’t just take your cell phone with you and expect to be able to use it as usual. Without some sort of international plan in place, your cell phone will either not work at all, or you’ll end up with some truly ludicrous roaming charges. Even if your company pays for a business cell, they will probably get irked at such a substantial charge. So, before you pack up and get going, contact your cell service provider and talk to them about international plans and usage.
Finding Better Alternatives
Of course, the problem most Americans have with the international plans offered by their cell providers is the price. First, you have to have a multi-band phone that will be compatible in the country or countries you’ll be visiting. If you don’t have a compatible option, you’ll be looking at the cost for a second or replacement phone. And second, most international plans offered by the major cell services are what most of us consider pretty pricey. Many of the big carriers charge per day of use out of country while others charge based on the length of your calls and the amount of data you use. If you’ll be out of country for weeks or months, as with a deployment, most of these plans aren’t financially worth it—especially since there are plenty of other options.
Buying a Phone There
One of the more common options is to buy an inexpensive pay as you go phone once you arrive at your destination. The perk here is that you won’t be spending a ton up front and you can buy as many minutes and as much data as you think you’ll need, then add to it if you run out. The downside? You’re paying per minute of call time or gigabyte of data, and you aren’t exempt from the international calling costs. This option is generally better for those who want to be able to check emails, use the in-phone G.P.S. for emergencies, and reach out to contacts in the area. As a means for calling home, it’s about on par with that international plan through your cell service provider.
Use the Power of the Internet
More and more smartphones today are being made with a built-in WiFi calling option. Basically, whenever your phone is connected to a known WiFi signal, it will use that internet connectivity to connect a call, rather than the local cell phone service. This option is particularly great for those areas that are hard to get a cell tower to and don’t receive great signal, like up in the mountains, because it gives a secondary means of placing calls without worry that the call will drop. What this means is, if you can get access to a wireless internet connection or find a free WiFi hotspot, you can essentially place calls for free nearly anywhere in the world.
The trick, of course, is getting internet access. If you stay in a hotel that offers complimentary internet, you may be able to call home for free. Of course, this means you’ll only be able to place calls while you’re in your hotel, and you’ll need to have your phone in airplane mode and the wifi turned off everywhere else so you don’t accidentally accrue roaming charges.
At Sapphire Mobile Hotspot, our aim was to create a way to get internet access so you can make calls, check your email, and even watch Netflix while you’re out of country—all without racking up immense international data charges. With our patented device, Sapphire, you can create a WiFi hotspot anywhere you go without paying the international WiFi hotspot rates. Our device allows you to create a locally-based WiFi hotspot, which you can then use to place calls and do anything else you want online. Want to save money and keep in touch while you travel the world? Learn more here and shop Sapphire from Sapphire Mobile Hotspot today!