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Communicating overseas – 6 of the cheapest options

Love travelling but hate the cost of keeping in touch with your loved ones while overseas? Don’t worry there are cheaper options. From mobile apps to old-school phone cards here are a few of the best ways to communicate while abroad…

Use Apps

Mobile with apps


If you own a smart phone or a tablet, there are actually plenty of apps on offer that will let you make overseas calls cheaply. Start by downloading a Voice-Over-Internet Protocol (VOIP) app, which will allow you to make calls over the Internet as long as you’re in a Wi-Fi hotspot (if you’re not in a hotspot they default to the local GSM 3G network). The apps may cost money but they work out to be a much cheaper option in the long run.

There’s another option if you just want to text or send photos and videos. Download the app called What’sApp Messenger, although it costs $0.99 to download it will allow communicate (although not by calling) internationally for free. Alternatively another company Rebtel offers a free international calling service that can be used from any phone (even if you don’t own a smartphone) with online phone cards.

Switch your SIM card

Mobile review apps


With some phones, especially smartphones, changing the SIM card is nearly impossible. But if you don’t have a smartphone (or have a unlocked Global System for Mobile Communications) then this can be an option. All you’d have to do is buy another local operator SIM card or a card that’s designed specifically for international roaming and place it into your phone. Your phone should work in nearly the same way it did before but it can save users up to 80% when making calls.

Buy a temporary phone

Readly Review


This is a great trick if you’re planning longer term travel and although it many seem like expensive option, it can save you a lot of money in the long run. If you are going to buy a temporary phone, it obviously doesn’t need to an all singing all dancing model. This works in the same way as swapping your SIM card but for owners of locked phones this is the better option. Make sure you buy a phone from a local operator to get the better deals on calls. Some operators may even offer overseas rentals saving you the cost of actually buying a new one.

Use a hotspot

Sunset over Liepaja beach, Liepaja, Latvia on GlobalGrasshopper.com

By using a Wi-Fi hotspot, you can communicate through the internet and social media sites with whoever you want. Most hotels have Wi-Fi or a hotspot, and lots of shops do as well. So you can message through social media (twitter, facebook etc.) to your heart’s content! Just make sure you avoid hotels that charge for Wi-Fi.

Skype at Internet cafes

A cafe in Paris


If you have a laptop with you, you can probably find an internet cafe, cafe or hotel that has free Wi-Fi. You can Skype someone from here. Skype can be downloaded from the internet, and then you can make a call with video, so you can see what the person you are talking to is doing (although shyer people may want to turn the video option off)!

If you pay a little money, you can also have the option to talk to a group of people at once. You can also Skype from some smartphones and tablets, so if you don’t have a laptop this may be a better option for you.

Buy calling cards

Monmarte neighbourhood in Paris


If the latest technology is passing you by then you might want to consider just buying an old fashioned international calling card instead. These are still available in many shops, supermarkets etc.or it’s that a bit too old-school for you search the internet for a service where you can access an account and dial international numbers for around 1p a minute (depending on the location). Alternatively make free calls from Android or an iphone with reputable online companies just make sure you check all the terms and conditions before you call.

This is a guest post by traveller, writer and all round good guy Andy Young. 


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    18 October, 2013 at 7:35 am

    These are great tips for travellers who certainly want to save some money. If you travel to SouthAsian countries, you can get cheap mobile phones in less than 50 USD so that you can make calls. And with the availability of wifi-zones in the cities, you can connect with your loved ones back home with an ease.

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    12 October, 2013 at 2:51 am

    Since I remember I’ve been using Skype on my phone and my laptop. This is the easiest and cheapest way to keep in touch with my friends and family. It’s not even that complicated in China 🙂

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    Lauren Meshkin

    11 October, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    I used a cheap temporary phone for the time I spent in England last year. I did miss all of my apps though 😉 Great tips, thanks for sharing.

    Happy travels!

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    Tiana Kai

    11 October, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    I totally lucked out wit a 10GBP Lycamobile card with unlimited data for my whole month on my UK road trip, score!!! I was skeptical at first, but it worked in 89% of the areas I was in and when it didn’t I had wifi at a B&B. 😉


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