International roaming fees add up fast once you turn on your smartphone and try to make a call abroad. But, there are ways to combat roaming fees while staying connected to loved ones when you are out of your carrier’s coverage. Here’s a round-up of Wi-Fi communication apps for iOS, Android, and the newer Windows phones. They can do everything from group video chat to sharing large multimedia files.
Exercise your travel bragging rights through a group video chat with friends. Fring also can tap into your Facebook and Twitter updates, and allows you to set-up text chats and phone calls. Free on all major mobile platforms, Fring can set up four-way video chats, or just let you have some one-on-one video and text time. It is a good way to stay connected while keeping those international roaming fees at bay.
Set-up Viber and start sending free messages and calls to other Viber users on any device. It works in any country and can sync up your contacts and messages with your mobile device. Launch a video call or start swapping travel photos with friends and family. You also can transfer a call from your tablet or laptop over to your smartphone whenever you’re ready to get up and go exploring.
It has been killing international roaming fees for years. Its acquisition by Microsoft wasn’t much of a surprise. Video and voice calls to other Skype users are free. For extra fees, you can use the app like a dial phone instead. You can also start an IM chat, attach files and do a little sleuthing to see which of your contacts are online and ready for a call.
Skip the SMS charges and use WhatsApp Messenger. You can even group chat with selected contacts. Whatsapp also offers unlimited video, audio, and text messaging, plus contact and location sharing. The only drawback has to be the $0.99 yearly fee after the first year of use. It is still a small trade-off compared to the ravages international roaming fees will do to your purse.
Get unlimited free texting and calling to any phone with TextMe. Start a group chat or launch a video call before sending over videos of your trip to the Colosseum. The service covers 40 countries for free, and offers a total of 200 countries when using TextMe credits. Like some of the other apps on the list, TextMe offers the ability to share your location and send photos and video. You can also consider GroupMe as an alternative. It can be used for group travel expense coordination while also fighting international roaming fees.
Keeping tabs on large documents? Maybe copies of your passport, or travel insurance policies? Consider backing them to the cloud for quick access. Google Drive, Box and OneDrive. The easiest for sharing files with others is certainly Dropbox. While it’s not a true communication app, it allows the upload of large videos, photos and other files to share via a private link.
For other options to keep international roaming fees at bay, you can also check this blog post.
About the author
John Jenkins Father, world traveler and board game junkie.
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