Communications abroad

Jodi’s office

So – how the heck do we stay in touch?  We figured this would be pretty straight forward, but it’s not.  When in the states, communication (phone, email, sms, etc.) is easy – all done via computer or your mobile.

Jodi and I are effectively moving out of the country so traditional roaming programs offered through our cell phone provider don’t work well.  The roaming programs typically work great for short stints out of the country.

We wanted to keep our US numbers and have them forward to us (phones and sms) wherever we are.  To accomplish this, we had to jump through a bunch of hoops.  This post outlines what we did to accomplish this.

A special thanks to the folks on the Facebook Sailing and Cruising Forum for pointing us in the right direction!  Whitson Gordon at Lifehacker also provided some great input here.  Thanks!

Here are the steps that worked for us:

  1. Get a SIM card for your local country.  This is important if you want to make inexpensive local calls and use forwarding as outlined later in this post.
  2. Set up a Google Voice account.
  3. Port your US phone number to Google Voice.  For some reason this needs to be done via the legacy GV product.  Follow the linked instructions.
  4. Google will assign a number when you sign up, so go ahead and delete the number they assigned after your US phone number has been ported.
  5. Set up a Skype account and most importantly get a Skype phone number.  To do this, open the Skype My Account page.  Click on the Skype Number box.  Go through the signup.
  6. Go to Google Voice and open settings.  In the Linked Number setting, add your Skype number.  This will enable you to dial your old US number from anywhere and it will ring through to Skype.
  7. Now you can add forwarding to Skype too.  Go to the Skype forwarding settings and add the local number for your SIM card.  Also make sure Skype voice mail is off.
  8. In GV, there are a few tweaks to make in settings.
    1. I leave ‘Do not disturb’ off.
    2. I like to leave messages (sms messages) on GV, so under Messages, I leave this unchecked.
    3. Under the Calls section, make sure your Skype number shows up and this box is checked.
    4. I have Call Screening turned off.
    5. I have ‘Get voicemail via message’ unchecked.  I want to get messages via email and not text message.

So – Let us know what you think!  Did we miss something?  What do you do for international communications?

2 thoughts on “Communications abroad

    1. Kirby

      Good question! We do use WhatsApp but you can’t port a phone number to it. We will continue to use WhatsApp, but this offers people who don’t with the ability to get ahold of us using our old numbers.

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