Google Voice is one of those great Google features that is often being overlooked and even ignored. If you have never heard of it before, you are not alone. But if you are a travel enthusiast, then you should absolutely get to know why it is so awesome and how it can be of great help to you on your trips. This article will tell you all about using Google Voice abroad.
Google Voice has surprisingly very helpful features. The app is mostly free, but you might have to pay a bit for some of its features. Here is a quick rundown:
Google Voice Features
- If you are not in the US, you can have a US-based phone number assigned to you. If you are in the US, you can transfer it to Google Voice.
- You can receive calls and texts on your number from anywhere in the world by either accessing the app or the website.
- You can also receive voicemail, including voice-to-text transcripts.
- You can make calls and send texts to US and Canadian numbers through the app or website.
- You can forward calls to a different US number or forward texts and voicemails to email.
- You can make calls and send texts to premium US and Canadian numbers and other numbers around the world by paying a few cents per minute or text. This is the only paid feature of the app.
Besides these obvious benefits, there are some other things to keep in mind. For example, you can Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb through Google Voice. Once you have an Internet connection, you can answer their calls easily.
Another advantage is that you can easily access verification texts while abroad. This can be a real pain when you enter your email from a different location and it asks you to verify that it’s you, but your SIM card is out or doesn’t work in that particular country. With Google Voice, you don’t even need to have the card in your phone to receive the text.
Along with all that, you can also get updates from airlines, make free calls to North America, and make cheap calls to everywhere else. Not to say that you will not be dependent on one device anymore. If your phone breaks or gets lost, you can always access your phone calls and texts through a browser and through Google Voice’s website.
Apart from Google Voice, there are many other tools and services that may be very handy when you are traveling abroad. You will mostly need to possess a good translator to get around easily, so here is a short rundown of translation tools and services:
Tools To Use While Traveling
- Google Translate: Another Google product that will help you translate different texts. The main downside is that it is machine translation and may give gibberish results sometimes.
- The Word Point: An online translation service that can translate your texts into over forty-five languages. Very good for bloggers who want to adapt their content for greater audiences.
- Collins Online Dictionary: An online dictionary that lets you translate into thirty different languages.
Setting Up Google Voice (For US)
First, go to their website. Start registering by picking the corresponding city or area code. Then, choose one of the available numbers. This will assign you a new US number, but if you already have one, you can transfer it to Google Voice.
After that, you will have to verify your number either by a verification code or by phone call. If you chose the landline option, then make sure to set up the verification for a phone call instead of text.
That’s pretty much it! Now you can install Google Voice (skip Setting Up Google Voice (For Non-US) to get to the installation part).
Setting Up Google Voice (For Non-US)
If you are not based in the US, the setup process will be a bit trickier for you. Google targets this app primarily at US citizens and tries to prevent anyone else from registering.
First, you will have to use a VPN to appear as if you are in the United States. If you are using Chrome, there are many free VPN extensions you can install for easy use. When Google Voice detects that you are not located in the US, you will just receive an error message when trying to access the Google Voice site.
Sadly, you will need someone in the US to let you use their number for the verification process. This won’t work for any other number and even for a different Google Voice number. Ask a friend or family member located in the country to verify your registration either through a phone call or tell you the verification code that arrives in a text to their phone.
The next step is to unlink the phone number you used by going to the Settings, then Phone Numbers, and then deleting it from the Linked Numbers section.
After this setup, you won’t need a VPN anymore to use the service.
Installing Google Voice
Now you have several options for installing, configuring, and using Google Voice:
- Access Through Site: Simply use the site to access your account.
- Install The App: Install the Google Voice app and use it.
- Access Through Google Hangouts: If you don’t have it on your phone, install the Hangouts app as well as the Hangouts Dialler app for making calls.
If you opted for Google Hangouts, make sure to go to Settings and under Your Account Email turn on “Incoming Calls” and “Messages”. On the Hangouts site, go to Settings. Then go to the Google Voice section and turn on “Receive SMS and voicemail in Hangouts”, as well as “Ring on incoming phone calls” under the Notifications section.
All in all, Google Voice is not hard to set up and even easier to use. It can save you a ton of money and headache. If only everyone knew about it, maybe we would have spent much less on our phone services.