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When I left “home” for a life of travel and adventure, I needed a way for family and friends to stay in touch (and despite the internet age we live in, I have some family members who refuse to venture into cyberspace). I had a smokin’ deal on my cellular service and was hesitant to give up my local cell phone number, but I also knew that roaming and long distance charges on the road would prohibit my ability to use that number while traveling.
After speaking to many people and spending way too much time online researching, I discovered the perfect way to stay in touch on the cheap while on the road.
#1: Buy (or ensure you already own) a GSM Quad Band Phone
Around the world cell phone network frequencies vary, and some phones have the ability to read these signals while others don’t.
GSM stands for Global System for Mobile Communications. (You will rarely see it referred to as anything other than GSM though).
The frequency bands available are 850 and 1900 Mhz (used mainly in the Americas), and 900 / 1800 Mhz (for Europe & Asia).
Beware: Lots of phones claim to be quad band, but in fact are only tri band, omitting the GSM 900 band. Make sure all four bands are available and open on your phone for it to work everywhere.