I love to travel, but often I need or want to check in. Finding best way to communicate internationally for free is critical.
Travel is great. Travel overseas (for me) is even better. Sometimes I travel without my family, and it’s important to stay in touch. And sometimes friends need to reach me when I’m out of the States, but I don’t want to pay for an international plan on my phone.
As soon as you leave the borders of the US, you no longer have the same cell coverage you do at home. We all got used to instant communication – texts, calls, and of course social media.
Cell phone carriers have international plans, but they can be pricey depending on where you travel and your carrier. I’m generally not in a location long enough to justify a local plan, but I want to stay in touch – and I know you do, too!.
My plan on Sprint does give me free international data and texts, though data is limited to 2G speed in Canada, which is great. Voice calls are more expensive, as are other destinations.
Thankfully, most places I travel offer free wifi. With wifi I can communicate internationally for free.
Have a trip planned? Check out some of my best travel recommendations and tips at the bottom of this article.
3 Best Ways to Communicate Internationally for Free
If you have an Apple device, you can use iMessage to communicate with other Apple devices. I’m an Android girl, so that leaves me out. I can’t communicate with my friends who have iPhones.
You can tell who has iMessage based on the color of your messages. If the bubble is blue, you know your friend or family member has iMessage. If it’s green, they’re Android like me, so you can’t communicate for free internationally with them.
iMessage works just as it does back home, which means you can Facetime and communicate over video calls. Choose your favorite method and go!
Life360 is one of my favorite apps, and I have it installed on all my family’s phones and not just for communication. You can find Life360 on Google Play and the App Store for free as “Family Locator – GPS Tracker” or “Find My Family, Friends, Phone.”
You create a circle with friends and family and can have multiple circles. When you travel with friends, create a circle just for that group and invite them.
Once you have people in your circle, you can communicate with them both on wifi and via data. Yes, of course you can message each other both individually and to the whole group, which is great, but it does way more.
You can also call individual members of the group, which is great to connect with family back home, too. It’s easy to swap between groups to communicate both at home and with those on your trip.
My favorite feature, however, is the map locator. Everyone in your group has their location tracked, provided they turn that feature on.
When on vacation, I often have my phone “with” me, but I’m not paying attention to it. You know how easy it is to miss those connections.
If you’re trying to meet up with the people on your trip, just check the map and zoom in to see exactly where they are if they don’t have phone in hand. This minimizes the wait around for a response time!
And yes, this app is free. While you can upgrade, none of these features have a cost associated with them.
WhatsApp is another great app to stay in touch. It allows you to call, text, and video call internationally. The only caveat? You can communicate only with those who have the app downloaded.
And a word of warning: make sure you download the app and set it up before you go. You have to verify your cell number with a text. If you leave the States before you set it up, you won’t receive the text and can’t use the app.
Make sure you let anyone know to download and set up the app to ensure they’re ready to chat. I love that you get check marks that verify your message was sent and a double check mark when the recipient saw it. That helps reduce impatience!
You can use this app while at home to communicate with friends and family internationally, so don’t delete it once you get home.
Because it’s a text, it doesn’t require a strong wifi signal to send messages. The video calling – for any app – needs a far stronger signal to not break up, but it’s a great option to have to communicate internationally for free.
I can’t leave out Social Media
And of course you can always communicate internationally for free via your social media. You need to be connected to wifi, and it works the same way it does at home.
That means Facebook Messenger acts the same, as does Twitter, SnapChat, and your other favorite social media apps. For me, that’s not my favorite – or most immediate – way to communicate with friends and family back home.
What’s your best way to communicate internationally for free?
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- Or check out all my travel advice and destination recommendations