How to Make Phone Calls When Travel Abroad?

Traveling abroad can be an exciting adventure, but it comes with its own set of challenges, especially when you need to make phone calls. Whether you’re booking a hotel, arranging airport pick-up, or dealing with an emergency, understanding how to navigate phone calls in a foreign country is crucial. This guide covers the essential tips and tools to help you make calls without breaking the bank or getting lost in translation.

Understanding Roaming Charges

Roaming charges are fees that your mobile operator may apply when you use your phone outside your home country. These charges can be surprisingly high. Before you travel, give your mobile operator a call (or check their website) to understand their roaming policies and costs. Trust me, you don’t want to come back to a shocking phone bill.

Here are some strategies to reduce roaming charges when traveling internationally:

Activate International Call Add-ons

Many mobile operators offer international call add-ons, which provide a bundle of minutes, texts, and data for a fixed price. These add-ons can be activated before you leave or while you’re abroad, often through your mobile operator’s app or customer service. This can significantly reduce your costs compared to standard roaming rates.

Use a Burner Phone

A burner phone is a temporary phone you can use specifically for your trip. These phones are often cheap and can be purchased with a local SIM card. It’s perfect for short trips and adds a layer of security if you’re worried about losing your main phone.

Forward Calls to a Virtual Number App

Virtual number apps allow you to have a local phone number in another country without needing a physical SIM card. Apps like AI Phone, with internatinal number integration, provides virtual number services that allow you to make affordable international calls, send and receive texts and multimedia messages while avoiding sky-high charges.

Purchase a Local SIM Card

Buying a local SIM card at your destination is one of the most cost-effective ways to make calls abroad. Local SIM cards usually offer lower rates for calls, texts, and data. To use a local SIM, be sure to request your carrier to unlock your phone before traveling.

Prepaid Phone Cards and International Calling Cards

Prepaid phone cards and international calling cards can be a great way to control your spending. These cards allow you to pay in advance for a set amount of calling time. You can find them at convenience stores, airports, or even online.

Prepaid Phone Cards

Prepaid phone cards are a convenient option for travelers who want to avoid expensive roaming charges from their home carrier. They are especially useful in countries where SIM cards may be difficult to obtain or expensive to activate.

WiFi Calling Apps

WiFi calling apps like Skype, WhatsApp, and Wechat allow you to make calls over the internet, avoiding traditional phone charges. These apps are especially useful if you have access to a reliable WiFi connection. Many of them offer free calls to other users of the same app and low-cost calls to regular phone numbers.

Figuring Out Dialing Methods

International dialing can be a bit tricky, but it’s all about knowing the right codes. Start with a “+” sign or “00”, followed by the country code. For example, to call the U.S. from abroad, dial +1, then the area code and number. You can use Google to search for the correct code.

You can research phone numbers for common services you might need (taxis, hotels, emergency services). Write them down or save them in your phone with the country code included.

Overcoming Language Barriers

Traveling abroad can be an enriching experience, but language barriers can make simple tasks like making phone calls a challenge. Fear not, intrepid adventurer! Here are some tips to help you overcome language hurdles and ensure smooth communication during your trip:

Learning Basic Phrases

Learning a few key phrases in the local language can be really helpful. Phrases like “Can you speak English?”, “I need help”, and “Thank you” can make a big difference. Apps like Duolingo or phrasebooks can help you learn these basics before your trip.

Using Professional Translation Services

For more complex situations, consider using professional translation services. Companies like LanguageLine Solutions offer over-the-phone interpreting services. This can be particularly useful for business calls or emergency situations.

Phone Call Translation Apps

Translation apps can be lifesavers when you need to make calls in a foreign language. Apps like AI Phone is a perfect tool to use. The app utilizes advanced AI technology that can translate and transcribe phone calls in real time with AI-enhanced 99% accuracy. It supports 91 languages, covering major global languages as well as niche languages such as Croatian, Persian, Hungarian, and so on. The unique feature of AI Phone is its text-to-speech translation function. This feature is particularly useful when you need to convey accurate information (such as numbers, addresses, names, and emails) during a call but do not know how to pronounce them in a foreign language. In this case, you only needs to paste the relevant information into the dialog box, and AI Phone will convey the content to the other party in the form of voice.

Additional Tips

  • Download Offline Resources: Before your trip, download essential apps like maps and translation tools that can function offline. This is helpful when you don’t have a data connection.
  • Be Mindful of Data Usage: If you’re using a roaming plan or limited data SIM card, be cautious about activities that consume a lot of data, such as streaming videos or music.
  • Enable Airplane Mode Strategically: Turn on Airplane Mode when you’re not using your phone to avoid accidental background data usage and roaming charges. You can still connect to Wi-Fi with Airplane Mode on.
  • Communicate Through Wi-Fi: Whenever possible, use Wi-Fi calling and messaging apps to make calls and send texts. This avoids roaming charges completely, as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection.
  • Invest in a Mobile Hotspot: Consider renting a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot device. This creates a personal Wi-Fi network for your phone and other devices, allowing you to connect to the internet and use apps without roaming charges.


Making phone calls while traveling abroad doesn’t have to be stressful. By understanding roaming charges, using cost-effective alternatives, and overcoming language barriers, you can stay connected and handle any situation that comes your way. Plan ahead, use the tools and tips provided, and enjoy a smooth travel experience. Safe travels!

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