Making International Phone Calls While Traveling
There are numerous ways to make international calls while traveling abroad but using SKYPE and prepaid phone cards may be your most convenient and lowest cost option. Here is a basic rundown of the advantages, and disadvantages of each plus why you want to know how to use both when preparing for your trip.
Included below are the country codes for South American countries as well as country codes for the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK. You will learn how to use country codes to dial home from South America or how to call a location in South America from abroad.
The number one phone service travelers use when jumping from continent to continent and having to call home… or the next continent for a hotel reservation, is SKYPE. Why? Because SKYPE is free when you call another person who uses the service (SKYPE to SKYPE phone call) – that is correct, free – and even if you are dialing direct internationally (such as from Argentina to the U.S.) only pennies per minute.
Another advantage? With SKYPE you can call toll-free numbers from abroad as if you are in the country itself.
One traveler whom I met in Cusco, Peru had his luggage left behind when flying into Lima from Australia. He was given a toll-free (1-866) number to call the airline and try to retrieve his belongings. He tried the number from different locations but couldn’t get through, the number wouldn’t work. He went online to verify he had the correct number for the airline and he did.
What was the problem? The number he had to dial was the free line from within Australia. Meaning, he could not use the phone number when dialing from outside of Australia. The solution? To get on a computer in Cusco and get on SKYPE.
With SKYPE you can select the country you are dialing to and it calls the number as if you are actually in the country. Bingo… phone call made, crisis over. Yes, when your luggage contains your worn-in hiking boots for a 4 day trek on the Inca trail it is a bit of a crisis. How many ways can you say ‘blisters’ and ‘cancelled trip’.
Prepaid Calling Cards
The drawback to relying solely on SKYPE when traveling is the simple reality that in many places you will not be able to use SKYPE. Why? Even if you have a computer (or iPhone) that has the software loaded onto it (as many Internet cafes do these days), you still need a headset (mircophone-enabled) that will allow you to attempt the call (unless using an iPhone of course) and a strong enough Internet connection to be able to successfully complete the call.
A good alternative to have on hand (or in your pocket) is a prepaid international phone card. Phone booths are in most countries, usually within an Internet cafe or as a stand alone serice. You can also, of course, use a phone card with your cell phone.
Before traveling unlock your cell phone and purchase an international SIM card or a prepaid phone card. The SIM card with regular service will charge as you use the service, the prepaid card will give you as many minutes as you have purchased upon buying the card, usually at a greatly discounted rate.
There are other types of international calling plans. What you choose will depend on how often you need to make calls, where the call is coming from and going to (some countries are very expensive to call, others cheap); do your due diligence online before traveling or moving abroad.
Calling to the U.S., Canada, Australia or UK from South America
To call home from South America you need to dial first the exit code from where you are located, then the country code of where you are dialing to, then the area code of where you are dialing to and finally the phone number. Exit codes are also called ‘international access codes’.
Exit codes are as follows: Argentina is 00, Bolivia is 00, Brazil is 0014 (Brasil Telecom), 0015 (Telefonica), 0021 (Embratel), 0023 (Intelig), 0031 (Telmar), Chile is 00, Colombia is 00444 (Comcel), 005 (Orbitel), 007 (ETB), 009 (Telefonica), Ecuador is 00m Peru is 00 and Uruguay is 00.
Country codes are as follows: USA is 1, Canada is 1, Australia is 61 and the UK is 44.
So a person traveling in Argentina who wants to call someone living in Victoria, Canada they would first dial the exit code for Argentina (00), then the country code for Canada (1), then the area code for Victoria, BC (250), then the phone number in Victoria (7 digits): 00-1-250-XXXXXXX.
This is for dialing to South America from your home country.
Exit codes are as follows: USA is 011, Canada is 011, Australia is 0011 and the UK is 00.
Country codes are as follows: Argentina is 54, Bolivia is 591, Brazil is 55, Chile is 56, Colombia is 57, Ecuador is 593, Peru is 51 and Uruguay is 598.
So for a person living in New York City, USA to call someone in Bolivia they would dial the exit code for USA (001), then the country code for Bolivia (591), then the area code in Bolivia (1 digit) then the phone number in Bolivia (7 digits): 001-591-X-XXXXXXX.
Editor’s Note: How To Call Abroad.com has a full list of all codes for all countries.