For those who frequently find themselves landing in foreign locales, you'll probably understand just how tough it can be to stay in touch with loved ones back home. For one, there's the time difference. But also, mobile providers simply don't make it easy (nor affordable) to stay connected once you're on international lands. Thankfully, the advent of the smartphone is making it a little easier to stay in touch regardless of where you are, but it's not exactly cut and dry. To that end, I've collected a list of my three top tips for messaging apps that can save you a bundle on texting fees – both at home and abroad.
Google Voice: For iPhone and Android phones, this free application will allow users to text one another for free. If you're on a Windows Phone, BlackBerry, or any other platform, there's a mobile web version of Google Voice that can accomplish the same thing. The trick here is finding Wi-Fi. If you're in a hotel or coffee shop abroad where you can latch your phone onto a wireless network, that's all you need to communicate via text through Google Voice. Instead of sending it over a voice network and charging you $0.50 (or more!) per message as your mobile carrier would, Google Voice messages transmit using data.
WhatsApp: This is easily one of the most highly used messaging apps on the planet, and for good reason. Much like Google Voice, WhatsApp uses data transmissions to send messages. But, the upside here is that WhatsApp is available for practically every mobile platform on the planet, including non-smartphones. It's an extremely basic program, which makes it incredibly easy to jump right into and enjoy. As for cost? Just $0.99 – or, the cost of sending two international text messages using your U.S. carrier while roaming.
Skype: Whether or not you're a smartphone owner, there's a chance that you're already a Skype user. What started as one of the first globally accepted voice chat programs has now added a messaging component. Like the two services listed above, Skype also uses data transmissions to send texts, and best of all, you can communicate with Skype friends that aren't even on their phone – desktop-to-mobile chats are no problem with Skype. Skype is completely free to download, and each message sent to a Skype friend is also free.
Have any favorite chatting apps that aren't listed here? Be sure to share in the comments section below!