Turkey to US communication?
March 5, 2011 5:16 PM   Subscribe

Best (and easiest) options to call home to the US while in Turkey?

We are strangers to Turkey but will soon be visiting. We will need to call home at least once a day. What do you suggest as the easiest to apply and most economical option given a very busy schedule? We have been advised to leave the smartphone behind.
posted by Sissinghurst to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
Skype on Wifi at your hotel.
posted by k8t at 5:24 PM on March 5, 2011

Seconding Skype.
posted by cabingirl at 5:33 PM on March 5, 2011

I'm in South America currently, and have used Skype, Magic Jack, and my Android phone with Google Voice. All work equally well, but surprisingly Magic Jack has been my preference. You can use just the software, but the hardware dongle makes it feel quite nice if you'll have access to a phone to plug into it.
While they all seem to be about on par, Magic Jack seems to lag a teeny bit less. I know it's not the most economical, but $35 (or whatever it is now) for a year isn't shabby. The nice thing about Google Voice is the ability to text to the states from my phone anywhere there's WiFi.
posted by piedmont at 5:49 PM on March 5, 2011

Skype at any internet cafe is the best choice. Also pick up a long distance calling card when you arrive there - int'l calls home will be cheap using a pay phone and a calling card.
posted by kdern at 7:23 PM on March 5, 2011

If you can, skype from wired computer at a cybercafe- I've never had good experiences using skype over wifi and the wifi you get for free will probably be too unreliable for a skype connection.

Also, get an unlocked phone- you can get a simple unlocked quad-band GSM (not a "smartphone") for $50 or less if you look around-- hell, I have one I'd give you for free if you were in Calgary-- and get a SIM card and number in Turkey. You'll get a few euros worth of minutes gratis and your rates will be pretty good.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:07 PM on March 5, 2011

I spend a few weeks in Turkey every year, and so far the easiest option is skype. There are lots of internet cafes with headsets if you are strolling about, and nearly every downtown cafe has wifi. Istikklal Caddesi (the main drag in Pera/Beyoglu area of Istanbul) is already a free wifi zone. there are also kiosks where you can pay to make overseas calls in "kontur" (tokens) but these are rapidly being made irrelevant by widespread use of skype.

A few years ago all I needed to get a Turkish SIM card for my GSM phone was to stroll into a Vodaphone office, show my passport, and fork out $30 of Turkish lira and I had a local provider. According to Carpetblogger, who posts from Istanbul, things may not be as easy anymore.
posted by zaelic at 2:32 AM on March 6, 2011

Google Chat has free calling to US & Canadian phone numbers. I used to use Skype until I found out that I could be doing the same thing without paying. This worked pretty well for me when I was traveling, and I always found that the quality was good enough to use without too much adjustment. My wi-fi connection ranged from OK to Good, so I can't speak to the quality on slower connections.
posted by texano at 4:36 AM on March 6, 2011

I signed up to Rebtel and have been using it happily for 3 years. It has the advantage of not needing to be online to use it. I call a local landline number from my mobile phone that connects to the cell phones of friends/family in the US. If you can get a local SIM card in Turkey plugged in, you'll only have to pay for the local call. Looks like the rate from Turkey is 1.5cents/minute to the US, and you can actually talk for free if that person signs up too and calls you back.
posted by oneaday at 5:21 AM on March 6, 2011

I've used Skype and Google Voice to call home from all over Turkey. Istanbul is blanketed in free wifi. The municipal wireless in Beyo─člu is okay, and any of the big foreign corporate coffee chains (Gloria Jean's, Starbucks, Caffe Nero) will have reliable connections in the comfortable, purely transactional setting you already know and love.

Even if you're going farther afield, you should have no problem finding a connection if you look around. Turkey is already pretty wired, and broadband penetration is growing fast.
posted by ecmendenhall at 11:17 AM on March 6, 2011

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