Staying In Touch While You’re Overseas: Calling & Texting

Whether you are living overseas, studying abroad, or traveling for an extended period of time, it’s important to stay in touch with family and friends back home. The internet and our many electronic gadgets have made communication amazingly easy compared to how it was even just a few years ago.

David and I spend about 10 months out of the year teaching in Turkey and the other 2 in the States. Apart from Facebook, email, and our blog, Google Voice is one of our favorite resources for keeping in touch with our family and friends back home.


Staying in touch when you're overseas


Calling and Texting: Google Voice and Talkatone

If you have an iPod (or any iOS or Android device) and an internet connection, your iPod can be used as a cell phone for calling and texting:

1. Create a Gmail account if you don’t already have one.
2. Set up Google Voice. I did this on my computer, but you can probably do it through the app. (I got to choose the area code of my Google Voice number!) Note: I believe this must be done in the States before you travel.
3. Install the free Google Voice app on your iPod. 
4. Install the free Talkatone app on your iPod. During the set up, you’ll link it to your Google Voice account.

And that’s it! Your Google Voice number + the Talkatone app + Wi–Fi = an iPod that can call and text for FREE! (Note: You will want to use headphones if you are in public. Otherwise, you’ll be walking around on speakerphone.)

I use Talkatone on my Barnes and Noble Nook to text. (I can also make calls with the Nook, but I prefer to use my computer for calls.) David has a 5th generation iPod and often times, we’ll make our calls from that.

Google does have international calling rates, but since we set our Google Voice numbers as U.S. numbers, we can call any U.S. number (or Canada) for FREE!

We can also send and receive calls on our computers when we have our Gmail email accounts open:


Calling while on your Gmail


What is also great about Google Voice is that it allows you to set up call forwarding. When we were home over a break, we purchased a T-Mobile prepaid phone. We can only use that phone and number when we are in the States. However, we give everyone our Google Voice number because we set it up to forward both calls and texts to our T-Mobile phone. When we travel back to Turkey, we change the Google Voice settings so calls and texts do not forward and we don’t get charged by T-Mobile. (The only “problem” with this is when we call or text back, it shows our T-Mobile number rather than the Google Voice number.)

Do you use Google Voice or another free calling/texting service?



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1 Comment

  • Reply Sarah Steinnberg

    Thank you for new tips 🙂 I usually use Travelsim, it’s cheap and easy to use.

    November 28, 2013 at 7:42 pm
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