Friday, October 19, 2012

Keeping in Touch while Abroad

One of the first things I did after arriving in Romania was buy a cell phone package that included international minutes. My family is very close-knit so the ability to call them was important to me. Unfortunately I quickly found out those international minutes run out fast. I had 'phone card syndrome' where the pleasure of speaking to someone is spoiled by thoughts of 'am I going to run out of minutes?' Plus my family couldn't call me which made it harder to stay in touch. I was pretty bummed about the situation so I looked for other options.

Here are the top four ways I keep in touch while living in Europe:

Rebtel- This is a phone service that takes all the effort out of international calling. If you've ever used a phone card, trust me this is NOT THAT! Instead you create and account, and then add contact numbers for those abroad (in any country). Rebtel will automatically generate a unique local phone number for each person you add to your contacts. For example: I have a local Romanian number saved in my mobile, the number has been assigned (by Rebtel) to my sister's cell phone in Texas. I dial her Romanian # and it rings her cell in Texas, easy. No having to input long lines of numbers and international codes on my phone. Cost? 1.5 cents per minute. On top of that my sister can call me in Romania using a local Texas number assigned to my phone anytime at no extra charge to her. I wasn't sure if it was a legit service when I first got to the site but they give you five free minutes to try it w/o requiring any payment info. It is genius, I've been using this service for over a year and highly recommend it. Note: This is not sponsored content. These are the honest words of a customer. I do however earn points if you end up purchasing their service here.

Google Voice- Google voice is awesome if you already have it set up in the US. My google voice worked even though I was in Romania so I could make phone calls to the US for free from my laptop. It was perfect when I needed to call places which I knew would put me on hold forever, like my US bank, Ebay customer service, etc. Side note: Anyone else have terrible problems using a US Ebay account abroad? It locked down on me 3 times! My luck ran out after six months though. Google voice found out I was in Romania I guess. Still, if you really need to use the service try a proxy like HotspotShield. It works ;)

Skype- A no brainer here.  The only catch is trying to meet-up online when there is a 8 hour time difference. Who wants to hang around waiting for people to get on skype? Rebtel fixed that for me. Now I can easily call my parents or they can call me and say "hey lets skype". Fyi: If skype is crashing too much I usually switch to google video chat.

Postcards- True, I haven't been sending out dozens of cards but I made it a point to send a few every time we travelled somewhere new and interesting. It was my favorite way of letting people know that I was thinking of them.

There you have it, a few ways I found to easily keep in touch with my friends and family back home. If you have tips please share below!


Sarah Steinnberg says:
at: November 28, 2013 at 4:21 PM said...

How about international simcards? I'm using one of them, Travelsim, and it also allows to make calls cheaper!

My story:

Girl meets boy.
Love strikes.
Boy moves to Romania,
girl (now engaged) follows suit.

I'll be living abroad for the first time in my life beginning January 11th 2011. Follow this blog if you want to see my adventures.