Tips for Making International Calls While Traveling Abroad
If you are making international calls while traveling abroad, and you are making those calls regularly, then one of the best things you can do is to get a cell phone plan that will let you make international calls from the country where you are traveling to.
The best way to do this is to check with your cell phone provider to find out what it takes to add the country you are traveling to, and add that country in to the calling plan itself. As long as you stay under the minutes limit, this is one of the most cost-efficient ways I have found of making phone calls from another country while traveling.
You can also get a mobile/cell phone that is based on SIM cards, and then swap out your home-country SIM card for one that is based in the country abroad, but we'll talk about SIM cards in a different article.
Other options are to get a VOIP system, which is easier if people in the foreign country are trying to call you. A VOIP system basically allows you to take a little box with you which plugs into a phone, and they are convenient, but depending on the infrastructure of the country you are in, they are not the most reliable, and you have to have a high speed Internet connection where you are staying/living.
Calling cards can be expensive, but they are often they most reliable. You just follow the directions on the card, and you are connected. You have to watch that you stay within the limits on a pre-paid card, or it will disconnect you in the middle of the call (which is oh-so fun if you're calling because of an emergency at home, an emergency where you are currently, or simply because you're feeling homesick). Sometimes, if you make a lot of calls, you can arrange to get a discount on international calling cards if you buy them in bulk. There is also frequently the option of charging the phone call to your credit card, which again can be expensive, but at least you won't have to worry about getting disconnected.
Other options, such as satellite phones, are prohibitively expensive. They really don't offer any advantages over a traditional cell phone or a VOIP system, unless you are in a place where there are no Internet connections, cell phone towers, or telephone landlines.
Of the above options, I would recommend the following, in this order.
If you have a high-speed Internet connection (and a computer) where you're staying/living abroad, sign up for Skype.
If you want to be able to call from your GSM enabled phone, add the country where you are going to your calling plan.
If you want freedom and flexibility to stop wherever you are and make a phone call from whatever phone is available to you at the moment, get a virtual calling card from a company like Pingo.com.