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Part 1: iPhone Preparations Before You Leave the USA

In my previous article, I created a table with the free and nearly free ways you can use your iPhone internationally. The tips in this post and the next are meant to be done days before you leave, not when you’re scrambling around packing, stopping mail, etc. While you may find setting up these accounts a bit tedious, you won’t have to do this again the next time you go overseas.

1. Wifi Access

Many, many hotels in Europe, even modest 2-star ones, offer free Wifi.  If you are selecting your lodging yourself and making the reservations, always seek a hotel with free wifi.

2. FaceTime Settings

If you have not used FaceTime before, skip to #3 Getting a Google Voice Account.  This isn’t the article to teach you about FaceTime.  If you have used FaceTime on your iPhone and like it, you will need to turn off the cellular access setting like this before you leave the States:

  • Touch Settings.
  • Scroll down and touch FaceTime.
  • FaceTime should be ON
  • Turn Use Cellular Data OFF

3. Getting a Google Voice Account

Google Voice has lots of features that we will not be using. We are only setting it up to receive voicemails that come to your cell phone while you are out of the country. Why? Because you can check your cell phone voice messages online with a free internet connection. It’s not free in foreign countries if you access it through your iPhone the way you usually do in the States. **Check with your cellphone provider to make certain that call forwarding is included with your calling plan.  Even with call forwarding in your plan, each forwarded call will probably use a minute in your calling plan. This is still much cheaper and simpler than accessing voicemail the way you do in the US.

  • Log into your Google/Gmail account on your computer. (If you do not have a Google account yet, it’s free and click here for the instructions on getting one.)
  • Click on the small squares in the top right and click on More.
  • At the bottom of the drop down menu, click on Even More.
  • Scroll down the page of Google products to the Home & Office section.
  • Click on Voice.
  • Click on I want a new number.
  • Enter either your zip, area code or city.  Click Search numbers.
  • A list of local phone numbers appears. Select your favorite one. Click Continue.
  • Create and enter a 4-digit pin.  Read and accept Google’s terms. Click Continue.
  • Enter a forwarding phone number for your Google Voice phone number.  This can be changed later.  Click Continue.
  • Google Voice needs to verify your phone number that you entered.  When ready, click Call me now.
  • When Google Voice calls you, answer, enter the verification number and hang up. Click Finish in the popup box.

4. Compose the Voicemail Greeting You Want Callers to Hear While You’re Away

  • From your Google Voice screen click Google-Wheel-e1376931536996, then Settings.
  • With the Phones tab selected, uncheck ALL the boxes that you see. This turns off the Google Voice forwarding to your cell phone.
  • Next, click the Voicemail & Text tab at the top.
  • Click Record New Greeting.
  • Enter a name for your new greeting and click Continue.
  • Select your cell, work or home number that you previously entered. Click Connect. Google Voice will call that number and lead you through the steps to record your greeting.
  • When finished, click the X in the corner of the popup box.
  • Beside Voicemail Notifications, check the box “Email the message to: your gmail address.”
  • I recommend that you do not check Text Forwarding for now. It does not actually forward text messages sent to your iPhone’s phone number.
  • Do not enter a Voicemail PIN unless you want the extra security for accessing your Voicemail messages.
  • Beside Voicemail Transcripts check the box “Transcribe voicemails.”
  • Click Save changes.

5. Set up Call Forwarding on Your iPhone

  • Go to Contacts on your iPhone.
  • Click the + to enter a new contact.
  • In the Company field type: Call Forwarding On
  • In the Phone field, select Work and enter: *72 and your new Google Voice number with area code (for example, *72 xxx-xxx-xxxx).
  • Click Done.
  • Touch Add to Favorites.
  • Touch the phone number.
  • Press the Home button.

6. Test Your Call Forwarding to Google Voice

  • On your iPhone touch iPhone-phone-icon.
  • Touch Favorites.
  • Touch Call Forwarding On.  You’ll hear three beeps and the call will end.
  • Using a different phone, call your cell phone.
  • Your cell phone will not ring, and you should hear your new Google Voicemail greeting.
  • Leave some kind of test message on your Google Voicemail.
  • Hang up.
  • Go to your Google Voice account online. You will see a new message. Even if it couldn’t be transcribed, you can press the play arrow to listen to the message.
  • You will also receive an email notification to your Gmail address that you have a new voicemail.

7. Turn Off Call Forwarding on Your iPhone

Now that you’ve set up and tested forwarding your voicemail to Google Voice, you need to turn off the voicemail forwarding until you actually go overseas. *** These are instructions for a Verizon iPhone.  If you use a different carrier, your settings may be slightly different.

  • On your iPhone, touch Settings.
  • Scroll down and touch Phone.
  • Some cell phone providers provide a Call Forwarding Disable or Off from this screen. On Verizon, you need to touch Verizon Services.
  • Touch Call Forwarding Disable.
  • You will hear three beeps.
  • Now, try calling your cell phone one more time to make certain that Call Forwarding is off.

8. Install Google Voice App on Your iPhone

  • On your iPhone, touch the App-Store-icon App Store icon.
  • Search for Google Voice. The correct app should be the first one, which is by Google, Inc.
  • Touch Install.
  • Touch Open.
  • Sign in with your Gmail address and password.
  • Touch Don’t use for calls.
  • Exit from Google Voice by touching the Home key.

Next time, we’ll finish our iPhone preparations by setting up and/or tweaking a Skype account.

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  1. […] Part 1, you set up a Google Voice account so that you can check your voicemail messages with a free […]

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