With so many opportunities for travellers and volunteers in South Africa, it has become one of the most popular countries for those on a career break or gap year. Opportunities exist to gain experience in human rights work, wildlife conservation, teaching, journalism, and care and community work. And there is so much to see and do – from the very civilised waterfront of Cape Town to the very wild ‘Big 5’ in the reserves, it offers adventures of a lifetime.
With so much to research before making your decision, it seems almost churlish to add one more thing to your list. But there is a way that you can really save money on phone calls to South Africa, as well as calls home while you’re there.
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and is a way of making phone calls over the internet rather than using standard wire-based telephone networks. It offers considerable savings over traditional phone services, particularly when making long-distance calls such as those to and from South Africa. Here are five reasons to research VoIP before travelling in South Africa.
1. See everyone back home for free
VoIP services such as Skype allow you to make video calls to other users for free using your computer and a broadband connection. If you’re far away from home, nothing can be more heart- warming than actually seeing friends and family. There’s little time difference between South Africa and the UK, so videoing home is easy to arrange and won’t cost you a penny.
2. Cheap calls to South Africa
Some VoIP services, such as those offered by Vonage.co.uk, can transform your home phone into an internet phone by plugging an adapter into your broadband connection and your phone into this adapter. This gives you access to much cheaper calls to South Africa or unlimited free calls to South Africa and eight other African countries from as little as £4.99 a month.
3. Cheap calls from South Africa
If you have friends in South Africa – or you make friends while travelling – VoIP services can help you set up a virtual phone number so they don’t have to pay more than the cost of a local call to contact you when you’re home.
You may be asking ‘what is a virtual phone number?’ It’s simply a number that can have any dialling code in front of it – a South African one for Cape Town, for example – that rings through to your home phone number. As VoIP services are not physically connected, they can have any geographical location code. Those calling you on this virtual number will pay only the cost of a local call.
4. Cheap calls in South Africa
While you’re in South Africa, VoIP services can also help you to make cheap calls. By carrying your adapter with you, any phone near a broadband router can become your home phone. You carry your home phone number with you and continue to benefit from the cost savings while you’re abroad.
5. Easy-to-access voicemail
In addition to saving money, VoIP services such as those offered by Vonage can revolutionise your telephone. They often include premium services, without the premiums. You could have visual voicemails, which send any messages left for you to your email account as sound files or, better still, as transcribed text messages. With VoIP, even though you’re far away, you need never miss an important call.
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