Sunday, 26 May 2013

Travel Hacking: How to Make Cheap or Free International Calls

A couple of years ago I got a phone call from Canada. At the time, I didn’t realize the significance of that simple call. My friend was 30,000 feet in the air, traveling at a speed of 600 miles per hour, in another country and calling me for free.

If this was a sentence that anyone had typed twenty or thirty years ago it would be regarded at best as a work of science fiction. Tech is rapidly changing our ability to communicate and it’s also changing the price we have to pay to communicate. By the way, if you’re interested in exactly how my friend was able to make a free phone call while in the air read on as we look at the best ways to travel internationally and make cheap or even free phone calls.

When traveling and looking for low cost communication there is a cost benefit factor that naturally occurs. You can get cheap and free but what about reliability? Will the calls be clear? Will you be able to get incoming calls?


If you’re looking for the best most reliable option for cheap calls on the go then market leader Skype is still the best option. There are a few tricks to using Skype that you might not know about that will allow you to make phone calls on the cheap. One of them is simply get a US number on Skype and install Skype on your phone. Now configure Skype to ring your phone when you get a call and you now have the ability to get incoming phone calls wherever you have bandwidth for about three bucks a month. Your stateside friends only have to call a stateside number. Call quality is oftentimes crystal clear even when using 4g on the go. Of course, practically everyone in the world or at least everyone you know under the age of 80 now has a Skype account so you can simply use Skype to Skype to call for free, but you knew that, right?


A second ultra cheap method for making international calls is Truphone. Truephone is available for just about every operating system out there including Nokia, Android, iPhone, the iPod Touch and BlackBerry.

The interesting value proposition that Truphone offers is called Truphone Anywhere. The service sends long-distance calls over a local number and then over the Internet for lower rates. You can even sign into your Skype account and call Skype users as well as make free calls to other Truphone users. The user service is pretty darned clear without background hiss and inexpensive. What is important here is that the Truephone config means you don’t have to sacrifice call quality. If you’re making a business call Truephone is the way to go.


That’s right, Google. There is a small hack inside of Google that allows you to make free international calls from your Wi-Fi or 4G computer no matter where you are in the world. Here’s how it works. When you travel, don’t change a thing. Simply access your Gmail account from your web browser and make a phone call. If you haven’t changed your computers settings and told it that you are in a new country then it won’t know. You can use the Google “Call domestic U.S. and Canadian phones for free feature “ from anywhere in the world and it’s still free.

This option can also be used when you’re in the air. That’s right, at the risk of annoying the person sitting next to you, if you’ve gone ahead and sported for the in flight Wi-Fi option, you can simply pop over to your Gmail account and make a free phone call from 30,000 feet. Now since you are jetting along at 600 miles per hour and 30,000 feet in the air the call quality won’t always be great. But chances are, if you’re into tech, you’ll be so delighted to be making a free local phone call from the sky the call quality won’t really matter that much.

Aaron Mills is a travel writer who blogs on behalf of travel insurance brand Protect Your Bubble