I thought most people knew about this trick, but I’ve been sharing this with several travelers lately who didn’t know about it. Nobody likes paying exorbitant cell phone bills, so here is my best trick for making free calls abroad with an iPhone.
Before you go abroad, be sure to go into your settings and turn Fetch and Data Roaming off. If you accidentally leave these features on, you may end up paying AT&T a small fortune.
First, before you leave town, download the free Skype app for the iPhone.
Second, make sure you stay somewhere with free WiFi. Many hotels, hostels, and vacation rentals now offer free WiFi to guests, so it shouldn’t be hard to find.
Making Skype to Skype calls is free, regardless of whether it’s via computer, headset, or app on a cell phone. Here’s one way I made a call for free. I was at a hostel in Florence and my dad was at his home in Houston. We had a prior email conversation in which we determined a set time to talk. I connected to the hostel’s free WiFi with my iPhone, opened up my Skype app, and signed in. My dad was on Skype on his home computer, which has a built-in microphone. I Skype called him through the app, and we were able to have a full conversation—me speaking directly into my iPhone like a telephone, and him listening to me and talking to me through Skype on his computer. The quality was incredible.
You can also use Skype to call land lines and mobile numbers for just 2.1¢/minute, plus a connection fee that is just a fraction of a cent. I have also done this with great success. Several months ago, I was in London on a business trip, staying at a hotel with free WiFi. My boyfriend isn’t a big computer person and doesn’t have Skype. Each night I either called his mobile phone via Skype from my iPhone (one time I actually did it from the computer because my phone batteries were low). Again, the quality was fantastic, and I was paying just around 2 cents a minute. It saved me loads of money.
If you want to see the face of your loved one, you can both get on your computers and have video-to-video Skype calls, as well.
You should be aware that Skype does not make emergency calls and should not be fully substituted for phones that have emergency call capability.
Have you ever used Skype to make free or cheap calls while traveling?
Photo by ThomCochrane