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Travel Tip: Video Chatting on the Road

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Remember when “video phones” were just science fiction? Well, now the technology is affordable and it actually works.

By now, most people have heard of Skype, which allows for cheap international calls and video chatting. If you have a smartphone, you’ve probably noticed there’s are video chat apps, like FaceTime for the iPhone and Talk for the Android.

A service called Tango is compatible with a number of platforms, including Apple, Windows and Android.

But the real catch is when you want to conference in more than one person. Instead, try using Oovoo, or Google Hangout, which allow multiple users to chat at once.

Most video phone programs also allow you to call landlines, for a few cents per minute.  But in some countries a calling card can be cheaper, so compare rates.

Here’s a final tip. If you know you’re going to be away from your cell phone on a trip, get a Google Voice number. It allows you to check voicemails and texts from your computer, whether you’re in a cabin in the Adirondacks or a café in Algeria. Plus, you can send international texts for free. It doesn’t get much better than that.

For more information, visit the Gadgets & Gear section.

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