Accidentally racking up expensive international text messaging charges is the last thing you want to worry about when you’re traveling abroad. Your phone may not even get cell service, depending on where you’re traveling. So, how can you stay in touch with friends and family on the cheap? Check out these services that allow you to send online SMS message while traveling from any device connected to the internet.
WiFi Texting: How It Can Help As an Option
First, let’s break down why sending international texts can get so expensive so quickly. It all goes back to the fact that traditional SMS messages are sent over cellular networks rather than the internet. When you travel outside your provider’s coverage area, you’ll likely become subject to SMS “roaming” charges even though you still use your phone. This is because you’re using a different provider’s network.
It’s common for providers to work out deals to allow customers to use each other’s networks – but often at a steep cost. Rather than foot the bill for these fees, your provider will pass them along to you. That’s where the power of WiFi comes in. Rather than using your phone’s data or cellular network to send a SMS message while traveling, WiFi texting allows you to connect to your friends and family over the internet.
How To Send Online SMS Message While Traveling
First thing’s first. Before you set out on your international adventure, it’s best to get familiar with your phone’s plan. You may discover that tacking on an international package during your travels is worth the additional cost. Just verify that the package will work in the country or countries you plan to visit. Also, be very clear about whether there are any data or cell service limitations.
Otherwise, you may want to completely turn off your phone’s cellular data function. This will not impact your ability to send SMS messages or the charges you may incur if you do. Turning off your cell data is more of a way to make sure that your phone isn’t able to access the internet unless you connect to WiFi. Additionally, be sure to look into the WiFi situation in your country of origin before you head out. If the hotel you’ve reserved doesn’t offer free WiFi, then look into other local businesses or libraries that might.
Whether on your phone, laptop, or a public computer, sending online SMS messages is incredibly easy if you can connect to the internet. Each service works differently, but you’ll generally enter your contact’s number and type your text like you normally would.
What Platforms Support SMS Message While Traveling
If you’ve decided that you want to do your texting over the internet while traveling abroad, several great apps and platforms can help you do it. Let’s check out some of the best, easiest options.
WhatsApp is an app and a web-based messaging platform that’s a great way to stay connected over WiFi. Anyone you plan to message will need to install it and add you as a contact. But the sign-up process is free and incredibly easy. Once you and your contacts install the app on your smartphones or computers, you’ll both be able to get message notifications anytime WhatsApp is active. In addition to free messaging, WhatsApp also supports group chats, voice and video messaging, and even photos and videos – all for free. It also uses secure end-to-end encryption, making it one of the best and safest options for staying in touch while you’re traveling abroad.
Google’s free service, Google Voice, allows you to send and receive online calls, texts, and voicemails from your iPhone, Android, or PC. When you open an account, you’ll select a free phone number, which you can attach to your regular cell number.
To send a text from inside the platform, select the “message” button and either type in your contact’s number or select them from your list of Google contacts. Type in your message and press send, and the message will be sent directly to your contact’s phone as a text message. Google Voice also lets you make free voice calls over WiFi, supports image messages, and allows for group messages for up to seven people.
The Social Media Option
These days, you don’t necessarily have to rely on SMS messages to get a message to someone instantly. Most social media platforms have a messaging feature that sends your recipient a new message alert in much the same way as a text message. This can be a much cheaper option than relying on conventional SMS service, especially when sending things like photos or videos. The key here is to alert anyone you may plan to message during your travels that you’ll be communicating through a particular platform.
Not everyone enables notifications from these platforms regularly, so they must adjust their settings if they want to be alerted to your messages instantly. Going the social media messaging route is also nice because you can send messages from almost any device connected to the internet.