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  1. #16
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    Several free or cheap methods

    A few other ideas of what I use: Google Voice, getting a number and it's use is like Skype, only FREE. Calls to ANY US number are free, and I judge the voice quality as equal to or better than Skype. I also use MajicJack with great success, and you can plug a regular phone into it or the latest model only requires a Internet connection- no computer required at all. Calls to US numbers are free on it, as well. Another little known fact about all VoIP call devices: US 800# not only work, but are free (even on Skype).

  2. #17
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    Before traveling and preferably before you get your next phone, check out the available phones which support other countries. Although I have a Droid 4 which is provided by my work, it would not work in most countries outside the US. My personal cell needed replacement and I chose the Razr M as it had capabilities for 4g and 3g worldwide. This phone also supported a micro-sim slot which allows changing to a pre-paid sim. I verified with my provider before my trip that the phone could use a prepaid sim. As it turns out, Verizon told me that no unlocking was necessary on my phone before using this option. Most modern phone chargers are rated for 100-240vac 5/60hz which cover all of the power systems I've visited. There are chargers which provide a USB charge outlet good for 1.2 amps which have the option to change the plug type via a snap-on clip attachment which is more convenient than the typical universal adapters. I used this to charge phones, cameras and nooks without problems. I also had Skype with world access loaded on the phones and obtained a local sim for Australia. Keep in mind that activating a pre-paid sim may take from a few hours up to 24 hours to fully activate once in-country. You also may need to manually enter mobile network access point names to get mobile data working. Research these options before you leave for your destination country. Until the sim was active for high speed data, I used local hotel complimentary WiFi to call via Skype. While in Australia, I had unlimited AZ calling, texts and data for $2 per day, which is a pretty reasonable deal, which allowed Google maps to function and Skype access. Plane WiFi use: Even though the United flight from Sydney to SFO had "WiFi" enabled, the uplink from the plane to the satellite never connected, so you can't always count on those options. Skype would report as "connected" but was unable to show status of contacts. I verified the link status with one of the flight attendants who showed me the status panel for the WiFi on the plane. He thought that we might have access when closer to the US, but it never actually worked. The plane we were on had two access points enabled and I could see dozens of devices attempting access or in adhoc mode as well. (I had my work laptop and work as a WLAN engineer.) Other notes about prepaid sims: The Prepaid sim would not allow WiFi sharing of the high speed data on the phone, but tethered mode via USB worked with HSPDA (WCDMA) modes (H, H+). The Android App I used which worked for me was the FoxFi with PDANET as part of the App. I upgraded to the paid version and currently have this available should my local internet be unavailable. Most of the time in Australia, I was able to connect with H/H+ but in some locations would drop down to Edge/GPRS speeds. You definitely want to go the prepaid sim route unless you would like the $20 per mb charge which is typical for roaming in many countries.

  3. #18
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    iPhone users have another option.

    To avoid extensive data bills, simply turn off Data Roaming.

    Settings > General > Cellular > Data Roaming

    Your apps won't suck up data while on a foreign network.

    I do this, and also buy an international data package from my US-based provider.

    When I need to check a map or my email, I simply toggle data roaming on. When I'm done, I turn it off again.

    No need to turn off Push, disable location services, and adjust iPhone apps etc. Just turn roaming on when needed, off when done.
    Last edited by caa100; 2013-05-23 at 14:40.

  4. #19
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    And I forgot one more thing! Make sure Microsoft updates is TURNED OFF on the laptop before travelling!

  5. #20
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    I didn't want to jail break my AT&T iphone so I bought a cheap unlocked phone and am buying a SIM card for the location I'm going to.

  6. #21
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    So assuming your phone works, as I understand it you'll need to dial a country code first (USA) to get out and back to the USA.

    Quote Originally Posted by tb75252 View Post
    I live in the USA.
    I have plenty of U.S. contact phone numbers stored in my cell phone. What I don't understand is what happens if I travel to a foreign country and try to speed-dial one of such numbers? How will the local Telco know that I am trying to dial a U.S. phone number?
    For instance, one of the phone numbers stored is (202) 555-1212. If I speed-dial that number in Europe what do you think will happen?

  7. #22
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    Pretty much nothing will happen other than a number unobtainable tone or message.

    From a landline you might get a local number that starts 202... but from a mobile - nothing.

    Most of Europe, in the same country long distance calls start with a Zero (020 in London in UK, 01 is Paris area in France).

    A few countries - when you call from a mobile assume that if no area code is included it is the area you are in (Australia for example - I know not Europe - in Queensland the code is 07 but if you do not dial it the system works it out).

    To call international you first need the international access number - most countries have adopted the use of 00 but mobiles also work with the + sign.

    Then the country you are calling, 1 for USA/Canada/Caribbean, 380 for Ukraine, 998 for Uzbekistan. Just putting a + in front of 202... would give you a number in Greater Cairo, Egypt.

    Then the area code, as above most of these - in Europe at least - start with a zero and this is dropped - so a call to a London number starts +4420 Paris +331

    Then (finally) the actual number.

    Your example (Washington DC Directory Information? On speed dial!) would be +12025551212

    You can go through and change as many numbers as you think you will need before you leave as they will still work whilst in the US.

    I would look into working via Google Contacts, exporting to .csv, fixing them in Excel then putting them all back but that is your call.

    Quote Originally Posted by tb75252 View Post
    I live in the USA.
    For instance, one of the phone numbers stored is (202) 555-1212. If I speed-dial that number in Europe what do you think will happen?
    Last edited by chipili; 2013-05-24 at 01:56.

  8. #23
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    RE: "Even checking your email could leave you exposed, if you use the same password for both email and banking."

    Your e-mail account is likely the one you'll most want to be checking when you're overseas, and it's the worst account to lose control of, even if it doesn't share a password with your banking account. Once a hacker has control of your e-mail account, they can sift through the content to see what services you use, and then go to those services, who usually have a "Lost your password?" option that will send a password reset e-mail to the account (which is exactly what I did just now, because I had forgotten my Windows Secrets Lounge password). With this, you can then reset the password, not only on your bank account (if they don't deal with lost passwords in a better way), but for any service you have that is associated with the account!

    So, if you absolutely MUST check your e-mail, do it from a trustworthy location (your laptop, or a friend's computer, not an internet kiosk), and if you need to use a free WiFi service to do so, then consider subscribing to a cheap VPN service which will provide an encrypted tunnel between your laptop and a trustworthy location. Data is usually sent "in the clear" over WiFi networks, and can be easily sniffed from the air using freely available tools. A VPN encrypts this data once it leaves your laptop, making this process much harder. You don't need to be Fort Knox, but don't be the low-hanging fruit when you're overseas, or you may find your vacation cost you more than you anticipated.

  9. #24
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    I live in Greece, and travel for a good part of the year, and I use my iPad (simple wifi) to keep in touch with my family and friends. iMessage is fantastic for sending text messages to iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. you can even include short videos and still pictures with your message. (My son just sent me - from his iPhone in the USA, my 5 year old grandson's moment of fame at his school presentation yesterday.) My granddaughter (iPhone) and I text constantly and it's all on wifi for me so it costs nothing. On the weekends when the time is set up for all of us we use FaceTime, apple's version of Skype. which so far for me anyway has been much clearer than my free skype account (which i also use)

    For sure by the way, make sure you give your credit card people your exact itinerary! Bank of America is notorious in our family for shutting down either my husband or my card whenever we travel- even after giving them the itinerary! (altho i will say that American Express has always worked fine even when i forgot to tell them i was on the road.)

    I was told the last time I spoke to BOA by the by, that if you will be travelling for a long time, you must let them know your itinerary every six weeks or so as they refresh their records and sometimes need reconfirmation. Get a non 800 number so you can call from your bank from outside the US, as 800 numbers as someone else mentioned do not work overseas.

    I was never an Apple aficionado, but I got my iPad for an around the world trip last autumn and I don't know how I even enjoyed technology without it! Sometimes I missed having a phone or a laptop, but basically, it worked just fine for everything for the 10 weeks I was on the road...

  10. #25
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    You should look at Viber which allows you to use your mobile phone through wi-fi to anyone else's mobile phone. It is on Android and I am sure it should be on the smaller Apple App store, too. Do yourself a favour - the do not disturb is OK but people forget timezone differences. Turn AIRPLANE MODE on when sleeping and let them leave a message or ring back.

    As to your plan, it is just so much safer to buy a prepaid SIM card in the country you are visiting. Many people go overseas and think they are safe from HUGE bills when they get home because of changes in their plan before they go and find they still have those huge bills when they get back.

    If you get a SIM in the country you are visiting, you can then use your iphone as a wi-fi hotspot (assuming your normal carrier hasnt disallowed that in the IOS within your phone as has happened in Australia before) and have a better level of security when using wi-fi, to pick up your private email etc.

    Greg.

  11. #26
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    Cruising always involves communication through satellites hence it is slow, if you use the ship's Wifi, (this is supplied by some ships for a charge), make sure that your email client can be used off-line. If you use Gmail get their offline app

  12. #27
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    Susan

    I travel from the UK to the US once a year and on the advice of my phone retailer I put the phone in airplane mode and then enable wireless connections. That stops the phone connecting to any US provider and incurring high costs. I don't have to disable any feeds as they just get downloaded when I use wifi at my hotel or a coffee shop.

    For phone calls, my UK landline provider has an app that works with wifi and charges calls as if I were at home. That means I can phone family at UK rates and as I have an all inclusive package, that costs nothing.

    In your case you have Dad to consider. If you might need to receive emergency calls then, as you suggest, buy a local basic phone that is for calls only. In the UK you can get them from under $10 plus a card from $15. Call costs will be high but this is for emergencies only. Bring an old phone with you and see if it will work wherever you go, then you can be the card only.

    The downside is no GPS while on the move.

    If your visit is UK, Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U sell unlocked phones.

  13. #28
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    Internet banking on networks should be avoided that are not your own because they have high speed Internet does not mean that it is secure and virus free. If you have kept your security software up to date, your system should catch any threats. So why risk it? If it is really necessary to do business while away, invest in a portable wireless option from your Internet Provider before you go.

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