Internet phones: VoIP forwarding while you travel

Voice over IP (VoIP) forwarding lets people contact you on your smartphone or tablet while abroad. It also lets you use a local phone number without paying long distance charges with a prepaid SIM card from the country you are visiting.

1. Simply sign up for a VoIP service

It’s easy to sign up for a Skype, Google Talk, Face Time, or other VoIP account, adding contacts, sending instant messages, and having a video or voice only phone call when you are both online.

With most VoIP services now offering apps that can be downloaded onto your smartphone, more people are logged into VoIP services more often, and you are more likely to be able to connect with your family and friends back home despite time differences.

Another great service that comes with most VoIP providers is that you can check your voice messages over the Internet for free.

2. Forward home phone to VoIP

While you are away, you can forward your home or mobile phone number to a VoIP service, such as Skype, Google Talk, or Face Time. In order to forward either your home or mobile phones, you will need to have or add forwarding to your phone service and then enable it before departure.

Forwarding is normally a premium feature that you will need to add to your mobile or home phone service possibly well in advance of your trip. Also check if there are per-second charges per phone call to avoid any additional surprises when you get home.

Enabling forwarding on is normally done by using a short code set by your service provider that lets you turn forwarding on and off and set which number you want the call to be forwarded to which will be the number for your VoIP service in this case.

Be sure to enable forwarding before leaving as you won’t be able to enable home phone forwarding from abroad. The exact short code is set by your phone service and exact steps may differ from those laid out here, so check with your phone service.

3. Forward VoIP to your prepaid SIM

In order to forward VoIP to your prepaid SIM, you will need to have or add a permanent phone number for your VoIP service and enable forwarding to the number on the local SIM card that you purchased while abroad.

VoIP to VoIP calls are free, but all of the big VoIP providers let you purchase a phone number so that regular phones can call your VoIP number.

Phone numbers for your VoIP service are inexpensive. It is best to get a number in your home area code because you will be paying for calls from your home or mobile phone to your VoIP number.

Enabling the service can normally be done online at any time.

All major VoIP providers (including Skype, Gizmo) let you purchase a phone number for your VoIP account and forward that number to any phone in the world.

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