There’s no reason to spend a dime on roaming fees — traveling is expensive enough. Yet, I constantly hear about people forking over their hard-earned money to talk with friends or family while traveling abroad. It’s now easier and cheaper than ever to chat with family or friends at home or new friends from your trips around the world.
First Things First
There are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t spend a fortune while abroad. You can turn off your cellular data network, disable data roaming (iPhone, Android, Windows) or invest in an international data package (which is expensive, but might save you from a surprise bill).
Some companies, such as T-Mobile in the U.S., offer free unlimited messaging and limited data while abroad. While data speed is low, the ability to connect with international servers can be an excellent resource. I personally use this option while traveling and living abroad, and can speak highly of this option.
With today’s technology, and many safe messaging apps, it’s very easy to stay in touch while traveling out of your mobile network. Here are the best free voice-calling apps to use.
You might already know about WhatsApp. It’s a popular application used by around 800 million people, with most users coming from India. You can use the app to send your location, text, send video and audio messages, images and contact information.
The best thing about WhatsApp is that it works great as a voice-calling app, with iPhone and Android recently releasing a calling feature. It also might be the most secure instant messenger. With so many active users and WhatsApp Web — chatting while on your desktop or PC, keeping in touch is easier than ever before.
Skype is one of the first telecommunication apps, having been released in 2003. Skype offers video calls, group video calls, voice calls, instant messaging, file transfers, screen sharing and even conference calls. The app is completely free, but calling landlines or mobile numbers requires Skype credit, which can be purchased through the app. It’s a very useful app, especially if you know what you’re doing with Skype.
A really exciting update was made for users of Windows 8.1. which allows speakers to converse to each other in different languages. The update promises near real-time translations in English, Italian, Spanish and Mandarin, with many more languages coming soon.
Though I haven’t tried it personally, reviews from various websites and users suggests that the translator does work well. The Skype translator is now open to anyone via the Windows store — check out how the Skype translator works too.
Viber was released in 2010, with text, video and voice messaging available. The Viber Out update in 2013 meant that users could call landlines and mobile numbers, similar to Skype. Viber is also available on desktop for Macs, Windows and Linux, with a recent update allowed for Chromebooks. It was also added as a best Android app and iPhone app.
Public Chats is also an added feature, which allows users to “peek inside the chats of celebrities, personalities and other public conversations on Viber.” Additionally, Viber stickers are popular within the app, as users can easily send stickers to their friends and family members.
KakaoTalk is a free messaging app with more than 100 million users and used by over 90% of Korean smart phone owners. It’s available on most mobile versions and you can also get KakaoTalk as a PC version on Mac and Windows. The app features free calls, group chats, texts, free sharing of videos, images, voice messages, contact and location information.
Special features include hundreds of games available for download through the messaging app. Plus Friend, a feature that allows users to follow their favorite brands and celebrities, is also popular, as many brands offer coupons for following. Users can also give gifts to their friends or purchase goods through the Gifting feature. In addition, KakaoTalk includes KakaoStory, a social network complete with status updates and pictures.
Another free messaging app is WeChat, which was developed in China and boasts over 500 million active monthly users. WeChat includes text, voice and broadcast messaging, with location and picture sharing. Users can also connect to others on Bluetooth and edit pictures through the phone’s many filters. Three main features include Moments, Shake and People Nearby. WeChat offers itself as more of a social networking app rather than just a messaging app.
WeChat officially launched an exciting update that allows users to verbally log into their account. The voice-enabled login works when the user recites a string of numbers, which is then checked for identity verification before access is given to the app. The new update was made to enhance the user’s security and data privacy.
What Do You Use to Chat Internationally?
Do you use a different voice-calling app? How does it compare to the ones listed above?
Image Credits: Woman on summer vacation via Shutterstock