Friday, March 26, 2010

How to: Call Home for (almost) Free

I have a mother.

She doesn't like that I travel.

Well, she likes looking at the pictures and listening to the stories, but she also worries non-stop, even once throwing a fit and forcing me to call off a trip to the Middle East just because Israel and Lebanon happened to be at war.  What I've learned from this are two things:

1.  Don't tell my mother where I'm going
2.  Call or email her frequently when I'm there

I used to just email her, but technology has gotten to the point that letting her hear my voice is ridiculously simple and cheap.  This makes her feel better, and it means she puts up less resistance when I'm about to go somewhere new that may or may not have a working government.

Firstly, it seems that almost every hostel in the world now, from Egypt to El Salvador to Thailand has the internet.  And not just the internet, but wireless internet.  Although I was surprised to realize it, it's actually cheaper for most places to set up a wireless router than to try and lay down an ethernet connection.

This means two things:

1.  Most hostels now have Skype on their computers
2.  You can now access Skype via the hostel's wireless internet either on a netbook or your wireless 3G phone

Hell, Skype even makes a free app for your iPhone or iPod Touch that you can get HERE.

By the way: anyplace you have a wireless connection, you can use your iPod Touch like a phone if you have the Skype app installed.  All the functionality of an iPhone without getting locked into a contract.  Woot! 

Skype has saved my butt abroad more than once, particularly a time in Egypt when I had lost my ATM card and I was able to call the bank's 800 number via Skype on my hostel's computer and get it sorted out.

But while most people already know about using Skype to call other Skype users or 800 numbers, Skype now has unlimited calling plans to a number of countries, including an unlimited world calling plan for $12.95/month and an unlimited plan to the USA and Canada for $2.95/month.

So it works like this: if I'm going to be gone for a month, I fork over the $3 to have unlimited calling for my trip.  Every couple of days, when I find a hostel with wireless internet or Skype installed on one of its computers, I can call my mom and let her know how I'm doing.  It's that simple.

Here is the Link to the Program

No comments:

Post a Comment