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Letters | April 2010

Hot Topic: Phone Bills Abroad

Mark Orwoll’s January Smart Traveler column had our phones ringing off the hook—or, at least, it got a lot of feedback from readers and users at TravelandLeisure.com. Here, a few of the highlights, plus your advice.

One Father’s Hang-Up

My daughter, Katelyn, is headed to Ireland for a month with three friends. It’ll be free for them to call and text each other if they all buy the same plan, so I’ve spent a great deal of time agonizing over the options. We’re going with Vodafone—their texting package seems to be the cheapest, and the international calling charge is only 15 cents. Your thoughts? —Joseph Mateer, Middletown, Pa.

Mark Orwoll replies: The Vodafone deal sounds good for you. Another avenue, of course, would be an international phone card. Just make sure you know all the restrictions, especially when it comes to rounding up call lengths.

Skype With Your Cell Phone

My husband is currently deployed in Iraq, and for $8.40 every 12 weeks via Skype, not only can I reach him at a local area code, but he can dial any landline in the U.S. essentially at no cost. And a laptop isn’t required—if you have a PDA, just download the free Skype app. Your best bet is to get an iPod Touch with a headset, since you won’t be charged by your cell carrier.

Pros: You can talk all you want for free (or for a small cost)—and on the go.

Cons: You need to have a wireless connection. —Julie Parrish, West Linn, Ore.

Choose Your Area Code and Connect

I’ve used Vonage while living in Slovakia, Barbados, and now Italy; it’s great for extended overseas stays. You pick your preferred area code (mine is in Florida), the company provides you with an adapter that connects to your phone or computer, and you can make unlimited calls around the world for as little as $25 per month.

Pros: Your contacts at home pay local rates when they call you.

Cons: You need to hook up a modem or router. —Jack Zalewski, Rome

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