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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.

guy-cellphone bill

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. T-Mobile Goes Global With Free International Unlimited Data Plan T-Mobile Goes Global With Free International Unlimited Data Plan T-Mobile (USA) has decided to shake things up a bit and see if they can get any new customers, by announcing a new plan which gives users free unlimited Internet data plans while overseas. Read More , 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 Forget WhatsApp: 6 Secure Communication Apps You've Probably Never Heard Of Forget WhatsApp: 6 Secure Communication Apps You've Probably Never Heard Of The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a lobby group dedicated to "defending civil liberties in the digital world". They maintain the Secure Messaging Scorecard, which makes for worrying reading for fans of instant messaging. Read More , 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.

WhatsApp

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.

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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. WhatsApp Encryption: It's Now the Most Secure Instant Messenger (Or is it?) WhatsApp Encryption: It's Now the Most Secure Instant Messenger (Or is it?) Since being acquired by Facebook, WhatsApp has been forced to clean up its approach to security and privacy, which resulted in the news last year that it has introduced new encryption measures. Read More  With so many active users and WhatsApp Web — chatting while on your desktop or PC, keeping in touch is easier than ever before.

WhatsApp-For-iOS

Skype

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 10 Tips To Make You a More Efficient Skype User 10 Tips To Make You a More Efficient Skype User Skype can do more than you think. With this article, you'll learn all about its best hidden and advanced features. It's the Skype productivity manual. Read More .

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 How Skype's Star Trek Translator Works How Skype's Star Trek Translator Works Skype's new translate feature offers something dreamed of since Star Trek -- an effortless way to communicate across languages. Read More too.

Viber

Viber was released in 2010, with text, video and voice messaging available. The Viber Out update in 2013 Make Low-Cost Phone Calls Worldwide With 'Viber Out' on Viber 4.1 Make Low-Cost Phone Calls Worldwide With 'Viber Out' on Viber 4.1 Viber Out has been launched, a new feature that allows Viber users to make low-cost calls anywhere in the world, to mobile or landline phones. Read More 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 The Best Android Apps The Best Android Apps Looking for the best apps for your Android phone or tablet? This is our comprehensive, hand-picked list of the best apps for Android. Read More 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

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 How to Use WhatsApp on Your PC and Sync With Your Phone How to Use WhatsApp on Your PC and Sync With Your Phone Here is the best way to use Whatsapp on your desktop and have it sync with Whatsapp on your Android phone or tablet. Read More 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.

WeChat

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

  1. Chris Worthington
    June 16, 2015 at 12:45 am

    No mention of Line? Foul! I call foul!!

    • Shay Meinecke
      June 16, 2015 at 9:06 am

      It was hard to keep them off the list, but I thought adding Kakao was more interesting than Line. Do you use Line? What do you like about it? I haven't tried it. Maybe I'll have to do a follow up article on the apps I didn't include.

  2. Mike Paterson
    June 12, 2015 at 6:37 am

    I use an app called Upp Talk upptalk.com which is brilliant. Unlike other apps, It allows you to call and text for free people who do not have UppTalk. In some countries you even get a mobile number for free which people can also use to call you, though they have just discontinued this in the UK. There used to be a lot of free calls to certain countries, but now there is a small charge for each country. You can earn credits by recommending upptalk to friends, by watching ads and various other things.

    • Shay Meinecke
      June 15, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      I haven't personally tried Upp Talk, but calling to other applications sounds nice. Thanks for the comment

  3. Shawn Rosvold
    June 11, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    I echo Christopher's comment above. I have been a very happy Republic Wireless customer for almost three years. I have called the US and Canada for free on all my trips. The ability to call the United States and Canada from any place in the world is priceless. FYI - You have to buy your phone from Republic-no other phones work with their service, and you must have a WiFi connection to make the calls. You cannot call any other place in the world except the US and Canada.

    • Shay Meinecke
      June 15, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      Thanks for the comment. I haven't tried Republic. It sounds nice...however, I don't like having to buy a phone from them. Maybe I'm just too picky. Anyways, thanks for the info.

  4. Christopher Bieda
    June 11, 2015 at 2:46 am

    If you are using WiFi "over there" anyway, why not just grab a cheap phone from eBay and use Republic Wireless?

    • Shay Meinecke
      June 11, 2015 at 5:12 am

      Also, an option. I could've included that in the "First Things First" section, but decided to use T-mobile instead b/c I personally use them. Thanks for the suggestion, maybe Republic Wireless will be mentioned in another article soon.

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