International Calling Ideas – Global Outings™

ET_3As I prepare for my Daddy-O of a trip, I’m trying to figure out how to work out the logistics of staying in touch. I mainly want to keep in contact with my friends and family, but I need to be reachable for business as well.

Usually when I go overseas for 1-2 months, I just get the international plan $6 / month from AT&T (chosen because it has the best worldwide coverage) and pay the international charges.

But when you’re talking about a 1-2 year trip, it’s a little more complicated.

Skype Solution

I thought all my problems would be solved with Skype, especially with free Skype to Skype calling. I downloaded the app on my iPhone and my computer and had my family do the same. We tested it this morning and all went well except for the bed-head comments I got. A distinct disadvantage.

In terms of fees, Skype looks like this:

  • $60 for a 12-month subscription for a 415 phone number (so those without Skype can call me)
  • $25 for 12-months of vmail
  • $14 month / $168 for a year for an unlimited world plan

So $253 to set it all up plus about $0.02 a minute from more than 40 countries. Great!

Number Garage

I could then “garage” by current phone number (that’s printed on all my super expensive letter-pressed business stationery) for a mere $85 / year. This would allow me to reserve the number while I was away. A cool service,, that my friend Jane told me about.

AT&T International

But all this doesn’t account for my data usage. And while I can (easily) give up texting while I’m on the road, I do want to be able to access the internet from my phone and receive emails. I can’t always just whip out my computer.

This functionality led me back to my current carrier: AT&T. Their pricing looks like this:

  • $120 / month for 100 megabites of data (I currently use about 80-90 mb) using international roaming
  • $70 / month for standard cell phone service
  • $6 / month for international calling plan

With taxes and fees, we’re looking at about $220 a month, and this doesn’t include international charges, so I’m probably looking at close to $350 month, which comes out to $4,200 a year compared with the $253 Skype option. Doh!

Convoluted Combo Wombo

I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get the AT&T option for my data usage, but use Skype for calling. This comes to $2,640 / month for AT&T data and $168 / year for Skype calling. Grand total is $2,808. Better, but still pricey.

And not to mention convoluted. With the above plan, if you want to reach me you:

  1. Send me an email and I’ll call you back with an appointed time so we can Skype to Skype call free.
  2. Leave me a vmail and I’ll call you back via my Skype and I’ll just pay the international charges.

I’m not crazy about the above plan, but don’t really have any better ideas. Do you?

E.M. Phone Home….

This entry was posted on Monday, November 8th, 2010 and is filed under What to Pack.

Join Our Mailing List

Thanks for checking out my global living and giving adventures!

Sign up for my Weekly Update to get a free Charitable Giving Guide and more surprises straight to your inbox. Join the fun!