International Communication: Ways to Stay in Touch


Note: This list is for informational purposes only and in no way constitutes an endorsement, expressed or implied, by the Department of State. Links to websites outside the U.S. federal government or the use of trade, firm, or corporation names are for the convenience of the user and do not constitute an official endorsement or approval of any private sector product, service, website, or privacy policy.

CHAT AND SOCIAL NETWORKING

Skype
--Skype to Skype voice, video, and conference calls, as well as instant messaging, are free but limited to 2 people at a time. It is free to download and allows you to send documents and pictures. Calls to phones are available through monthly subscriptions. SMS text rates vary. You can buy a number that rings in your home overseas.

Facebook
--Social network through instant messaging,
photo sharing, status updates, and more.

Google+ Hangouts
--Google Hangouts is a free video chat with up to 10 people; includes voice calling and instand messaging with the ability to send photos, GIFs, maps, etc. Calls to any international Google Hangout contact are free.

Google Duo is a one-to-one face phone app that is similar to FaceTime (see below). Available on both iOS and Android.

 

BLOGS

Twitter
--A microblog with a limit of 140 characters at a time. Subscribe to friends / family accounts to receive all of their updates.

Tumblr
--A free, fully customizable blog on which you can share posts easily with other social media.

Blogger (via Google)
--A free blog website that allows your family and friends to view and comment on your posts.

WordPress
--A blog site that provides free pre-formatted blog templates. Friends and family can view on comment on posts.

PHOTO STORAGE AND SHARING

Photobucket
- Store and send photos and videos via email or instant message.

Flickr
--Free limited storage. Allows you to store and organize photos for friends and family.

Instagram
--A popular visual platform where you can share photos of yourself and your travels to followers. You may make either a private or public account. Direct messaging available.

Google Photos
--Access is included with a Gmail or Google account. Provides free storage and photo sharing options.

 

TELEPHONE OPTIONS

Cell phone users may wish to get an “unlocked” phone that can use data plans internationally and have their SIM card switched out on a country-by-country basis.

Vonage International
--Choose from international calling plans Vonage World ($9.99/month) and Vonage World Plus ($24.99/month). Keep your existing phone number or get a new U.S.-based phone number that rings in your home overseas for a monthly fee.

AT&T World Connect - US wireless long distance plan --Select your post country to view discounted per minute rates

International Long Distance Messaging --$ 0.25 to send and $0.20 to receive. The International Long Distance Messaging Plan allows friends and family in the US to send 100 texts to more than 200 countries for $10.00/mo or 1000 texts for $15/mo.

Verizon Wireless International Long Distance Plan 
--Select country to view discounted per minute rates

T-Mobile International Plans --Includes 120+ countries; unlimited data and texting while on the T-Mobile network at no extra charge; $0.20/min for calls.

FaceTime
--Free video calling from one Apple device (e.g., iPhone, iPad) to another using wi-fi or cellular data. A mobile app and chat are also available.

WhatsApp
--Free messaging (individual and group) and voice/video calling over a wi-fi connection. Able to share documents, voice recordings, vidoes, and photos.

Viber
--Free calls, texts, and picture sharing using your phone’s existing data plan. Also available on your desktop

Google Voice
--Gives you a CONUS phone number for people to call while you are overseas; Free US long distance, free voicemail feature

MagicJack
--Free calls to the U.S. and Canada no matter where you are in the world. First year plane is $59.95. After that it is $35/year.

TextPlus
--Free messaging with other TextPlus users & free texts to any US or Canadian mobile number

Long Distance Calling Cards --The following sites offer long distance calling card rate comparisons by country: