Calling home for cheap
Google voice is a cheap alternative to Skype. Offering calling rates that are often below Skype's internet calling service, this service will keep you connected wherever you are in the world. If .02 USD/minute for most calls isn't good enough, Google Voice offers US registered users unlimited free calling to phone numbers in the US.
- Register a Google account or use your pre-existing Google account. If you'd like to get the free US calling, your account must indicate that you are located in the US.
- Choose a US phone number. This number will be your personal phone number. Choose something you can remember easilly and share with friends or choose a number based on an area code you'd like to have, such as New York City or Los Angeles.
- Load your account with a few dollars using a credit card.
- Log in to your Gmail account and look for "call phone" button under your Google Talk bar. Click the button and start making calls from your computer.
Making Google Voice your permanent phone
If you're staying somewhere more permanently, such as a study abroad or extended travel, consider a VOIP router, such as this Obi100 and Obi110 device that has been proven to work fantastically with Google Voice. This "OBi100 VoIP Telephone Adapter and Voice Service Bridge" is connected to your modem or router and allows you to plug in a regular phone into a phone jack in the back. After the initial set up, you'll be able to pick up and dial via your Google Voice account, and you'll be able to receive calls through your Google Voice number (US phone number). This is ideal if you are abroad for extended periods of time.
Low cost options:
1. Amazon ($39.00 - $49.00)