I did quite a bit of research and preparation before I left the states trying to make sure that I wouldn’t have any problem working while I was traveling. A lot of my work time is spent on phone calls so I HAD to have good service and not pay for each minute!
After researching phone plans, I decided to switch from Verizon to Google Fi. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you should check it out, but consider where you live before switching. I had it turned on a couple of weeks before I left and when I was in smaller towns and away from WIFI, the service was terrible and would not have been acceptable for everyday use. When I was in a bigger city however, it was great. I had never heard of it before I decided to travel.
I made the switch because of the international benefits which include unlimited texts and data with connectivity in most countries as soon as you step off of the plane which is NOT common.
Remote Year offers the option to purchase a new sim card for each country you visit for a pretty reasonable fee. But, you have to pickup that card and it will change your phone number each time which is tough with the 2 factor authentication that’s required for so many things we do now. I needed to keep my number.
So, as usual, I over prepared a little bit 😁. I moved my number to Google Fi, I also got a Google Voice number (this was a challenge with a phone using Google Fi) AND a Skype number. I have barely used Skype, but I have used Google Fi and Google Voice all month. How has it gone?
1. Some of my texts just won’t go out from Google Fi from my cell and I still wonder how many I don’t get.
2. So far, all of my texts have gone out just fine from Google Voice (sent from my phone).
3. I’m using Hangouts dialer from my computer using Google Fi to make about 90% of my work phone calls (when calls are made from my computer, I know they are being made using data, not cell service) with the other 10% from Google Voice (not Fi) on my phone while on WIFI (just because the computer isn’t always convenient). The quality has been pretty good although there have been a few times that it went in and out a bit.
4. Communication within our travel group is all done through Slack (officially) and a lot through WhatsApp (unofficially) which is a an app that allows you to call and text others that also have the same app using only data. I’ve used this to call some friends and family and it’s been pretty good.
5. I’ve done a few video calls through Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and WhatsApp and all have been pretty good quality.
I was a little confused about how to use Google Fi / Google Voice from the computer to begin with, so I’m going to detail it for you here:
1. You’ll need a google account ( if you don’t have Google Fi ). If you have a gmail address, you already have a google account. Login to your gmail account then type voice.google.com into your browser address and it’ll take you to the sign up page. Or download the app to your phone and do the sign up there. It’s FREE.
2. Download the app on your phone. The icon looks like this:
3. The setup is pretty straight forward, just follow the instructions. It will want you to link it to your mobile number. This is fine if you don’t have Google FI, if you do have Google Fi, don’t link your normal mobile number. You can just ignore that prompting even though it seems like you have to do it.
4. If you want to make calls using this service from your computer (like I do), you’ll need to install the Hangouts Dialer on your computer. You can download it here.
5. To make an actual call from the computer, open the Hangouts Dialer and select New Conversation which will open a little box on the right were you can type the phone #. Then click the phone icon.
If you want to make calls from Google Voice from your phone, just click the Voice icon from your phone and select the little phone icon at the bottom left.
Why would you want a Google Voice number if you weren’t going to use it for international calling?
1. I originally wanted it for online dating. I wasn’t comfortable giving my real phone number to anyone I didn’t know.
2. If you use your mobile phone for work and don’t want customers to have your personal phone #, Google Voice is a great option.
IMPORTANT: I have read that there may be charges for international calls using Google Voice, BUT, because I always connect to a U.S. server using ExpressVPN whenever I’m on my computer now, it always thinks I’m making calls from the U.S.
Clarifying Google Fi vs Google Voice: Google Fi is a cell service, think of it like Verizon, Sprint, etc. Google Voice is a virtual phone number that needs an app to be used. Each one needs to be associated with it’s own gmail account. So, my Google Fi account is linked to my business email address. My Google Voice account is linked to my personal gmail account. I can access either one of them from my computer based on which gmail account I’m logged into. The Hangouts Dialer will automatically choose.
For March, I’m going to try using Skype for more of my business calls and see if there’s any benefit to Skype over Google.