Long before the luxury of mobile phones and the Internet, keeping in touch with family and friends while travelling was a costly effort. To make an international call, the choices were limited to the local phone booth which quickly ate through your change or the hotel telephone service which charged exorbitant rates.

With the emergence of the Internet and VoIP technology, excessive calling prices are a thing of the past. Popular tools such as Skype and Jaja are fueling this trend of cheap international calls and it’s a must for any traveller.

Skype - skype.com

Skype is currently the king of them all. Starting out as a simple service to make free video calls, Skype has grown to offer Skype To Go numbers, voice mail, call forwarding, call transfers and the ability to SMS.

While I tend to stick with video calling when I’m abroad, I always have Skype credit purchased for those times when I need to quickly ring home without having to worry about whether anyone is online or not.

Jaja - jajah.com

Jaja works by providing you with a local number for each of your international contacts. Simply save the number into your address book and call it from any landline or mobile phone. Once each number has been activated, you’ll never pay more than the cost of a local call, regardless of where in the world you’re calling from.

TruPhone - truphone.com

Similar to Jaja, TruSIM and TruApp are two services by TruPhone which allow you to make international calls at local rates.

It’s as simple as replacing the current SIM in your phone with one from TruSIM. Once installed, all your calls, texts and data is charged at local rates within the TruPhone network.

TruApp is an application which can be downloaded onto your computer or smartphone. With TruApp installed, calling unlimited international mobiles and landlines can be done for as little as $12.95 per month.

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Vonage - vonage.com

Vonage works by routing your calls through the Internet, rather than the telephone line. It’s as simple as choosing a phone plan which best suits your situation and connecting the Vonage Phone adapter to your existing high-speed Internet connection. Their most popular plan, the Vonage World, is only $14.99 per month and provides unlimited calling to over 60 countries and unlimited mobile calling to over 10 countries.

Calling Cards

If you cannot get access to a computer and prefer to leave the mobile at home, you can stick to the tried and tested phone card option. Many phone cards offer deals for international calling and the rates are generally quite favourable. For the most part, it’s as simple as buying a calling card at a local gas station or post office.

If you’d prefer not to hunt down a calling card while you’re away, there are services such as PennyTalk which provide calling cards which automatically recharge or can be easily recharged through the internet.

International Mobile Phones

There are a range of mobile phones you can purchase which are solely built for international use. Each country has their own mobile service, whether it’s GSM, CDMA, AMPS or TDMA. So depending on your phone, there is a chance that it won’t work overseas. Purchasing an international mobile such as the National Geographic Talk Abroad phone or one of the many available from Mobal solves this issue as they’re all GSM compatible have an unlocked SIM, allowing you to make international calls wherever you are in the world.