The world is held together by phone calls. Not having consistent numbers is putting me outside the loop.
Each time I roll into a country my phone number changes due to my ever-revolving parade of local SIM cards. Sometimes I lose phone capabilities entirely if I’m in a country for too short of a duration to warrant getting a local SIM.
In my line of work I need for people to be able to get in touch with me via phone or text; when I call or text people I need for my caller ID to be an actual number that they can call me back at; I have to stop saying “This is only my phone number when I’m in your country, as soon as I leave it won’t work any more;” I have to stop trying to explain to the people that I am setting up interviews and meetings with that they need to email me because I don’t have a functioning phone number. I’m a journalist, being easily contact-able is a big part of the game.
Less glamorously, it is sometimes a major hassle to get an account verification text or call directed to a number that you currently do not have access to. I don’t want to be locked out of my accounts just because I’m outside the US where my SIM card from there won’t function.
I need a set of permanent phone numbers that people can access me through on a consistent basis from anywhere in the world.
So how do I do this with ever revolving SIM cards and ever changing locations? Get an international phone plan? I had one of these through Verizon in 2010. Now it’s too expensive (especially as local data plans are often so cheap as to be virtually free). So that’s not an option. But there’s another way: VoIP.
VoIP, which stands for voice over IP, is a way to have a phone number that people can call over mobile phones or land lines and ring me via an internet connection. This means that someone can call me through a phone number and my phone will ring anywhere in the world providing that I have a data or WIFI connection enabled. Or even if I don’t I can set up call forwarding to whatever number my local SIM is configured for and my phone will ring through that.
There are numerous services that offer VoIP numbers, but I just went for Skype. There may be cheaper options but I’ve used this service before and know that it has continuity going for it — which is essential as I want these numbers to work for the long-term. It costs roughly a dollar per week per number. For now, I bought three numbers, although I may add more if the need arises. These numbers are local calls in the areas they are located to.
New York: +1 585-412-2581
London: +44 020-3287-4810
Hong Kong: +852 8170-1055