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Talk Abroad

Multi-country calling from Cellular Abroad

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Duet PhoneIn an earlier (and now obsolete) article titled "Cellular Phones in Europe," we described our experiences with a tri-band GSM phone from Cellular Abroad, an American company that rents or sells mobile phones to travelers. We used the phone with several single-country SIM cards (the tiny devices that serve as the brains of a GSM phone) that let us send and receive calls as if we were locals.

Since that first experience, we've been using a product from CellularAbroad called Talk Abroad, which makes it easy to send or receive calls in more than 200 countries. (It was incredibly useful after a cruise from Marseille to Civitavecchia, when Durant injured himself on the way to Rome Airport and spent 18 days in an Italian hospital without a phone in the room.)

Although Talk Abroad's cost per outgoing call is usually higher than with a single-country SIM card, incoming calls to the card's British phone number are free in more than 70 countries. This makes Talk Abroad valuable if you're visiting more than one country during a trip, since you need to buy only one SIM card and people can reach you in any country as you travel.

How Talk Abroad works

The basic Talk Abroad product is the "National Geographic Talk Abroad Travel SIM Card," which costs US $59 and offers 30+ minutes of prepaid talk time abroad. It includes two phone numbers: One UK-based number, which gives free incoming calls in most of Europe, and one U.S. number, which forwards incoming calls to wherever you are at a cost of $ 0.25 per minute.

A US $29 recharge gives you about 30 minutes of outgoing calls in most European countries. You can add talk time via phone, e-mail, or Cellular Abroad's Web site while traveling.

Talk Abroad service is valid for a year from your most recent purchase of talk time. To keep your account alive (and to keep your assigned phone numbers), simply add minutes before the year is up.

If you don't already own an unlocked GSM multiband phone that works outside North America, you can buy a "Duet Talk Abroad Travel Phone Package" for US $199. This includes the "National Geographic Talk Abroad Travel SIM Card" and a triband Duet D888 Travel Phone that accepts two SIM cards for greater calling economy and flexibility. (Rental packages are also available.) 

For more information on Talk Abroad, continue on to the next page or use the navigation table below.

Next page: Field-testing TalkAbroad


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