In this article I look at a few ways that you can manage your calls from your home phone whilst overseas. I learned these whilst conducting research for my books and decided it was more relevant to add them to the website than the book. I preface this article by saying the strategies contained here are not ones that I have tried, nor have I had the need to use. Also, if you search online, you’ll find a few different variations as to how people configure these strategies. Some travelers, however, find these hacks to be very useful. With that caution out of the way, let’s consider a few of them.
The first strategy enables you to check and respond to your voicemails sent to your home phone from overseas using a VoIP service. How it works is that you forward your home / business / cell phone number to a service like Skype from whom you purchase a local phone number. You then set up the service to divert calls to voicemail. It is important to do this before you leave your home country though in case your international location is picked up, and you’re charged international rates on all of your calls. You will pay for the cost of the forwarded calls to your local (say, Skype) phone number. You can then call in to check your Skype voicemail via free Wi-Fi whilst you’re overseas. To respond to any voicemails, you use cheap VoIP calling rates using Wi-Fi (for example, using Skype) from the country you are traveling in. There are other services such as Line2 and Tango that this strategy may work with.
Another strategy involves using a VoIP service to provide cheap ‘global roaming’. How this works is that you purchase a local phone number (say, from Skype) and divert your home / mobile / business phone to that number. You then purchase a pre-paid local SIM card at your destination country, and forward calls from Skype to that local mobile phone number. You will pay for the cost of calls diverted back at home (at your phone plan’s rate) to Skype and again at Skype’s lower international call rates from Skype to divert the call to the mobile phone number at your destination country. The cost of this ‘leg’ of the call will depend on the Skype calling rates from your home country to the country you’re in. Depending upon the country, it could, however, be as low as a few cents per minute.
This strategy provides a service similar to ‘global roaming’ but without the price. This is because you retain your home phone number but do not need Skype to be open and connected to Wi-Fi in order to receive phone calls on your mobile phone number overseas. There are some caveats to using this strategy such as you cannot send text messages to someone back at home and receive them through Skype. Also, you’re likely to get a reduced call quality than if you were using normal global roaming. For further details on this strategy see this Australian Business Traveler article.