A few months back I wrote about Why I Quit My $40 Verizon Phone Bill, at that time switching my phone service from Verizon to Mint Mobile. After my six month contract with Mint Mobile expired I then switched to Tello, but that’s a story for another time…
The point of this blog post being that prior to my trip I was faced with the fact that I would be travelling internationally for a number of months and had no way to keep my US phone number with Tello. You see, many phone service companies, including Tello, will deactivate your number after 90 days of inactivity – that is, no texting, phone calls, or data usage – therefore revoking your claim to your phone number. This holds true even if you continue to pay your bill. (I encourage you to check your phone company’s specific policy prior to travelling if you plan to travel internationally for more than 90 days.)
While I tried to tell all of the important people in my life that I would be unavailable via my regular phone number during my time in South America, it was impossible to contact everyone that had ever passed through my life. Plus, it was inevitable that someone (ahem, my landlord) would forget and try to reach out to me. The other factor was that I felt a sentimental attachment to my phone number. Perhaps too sentimental, but I had had the same number for the past 12 years and felt like it was a part of my identity. Even if I had kept paying my bill, my phone company would have likely given away my phone number due to its inactivity.
The solution? Enter Tossable Digits, a company that allows you to “park” your phone number with them for as long as you like. Tossable Digits has a number of phone plan options, but I chose the pay-as-you-go option, which costs $3.49 a month plus some additional fees. For roughly $4 a month I have any texts from my US phone number forwarded to my Google Voice phone number (you can also set up texts to be forwarded to your email), which I have access to in South America via wi-fi. I also have any voicemails forwarded to my email as sound clips. The pay-as-you-go plan allows me to set up a personalized voicemail so callers don’t know that I’m having my calls forwarded. Some of the more expensive plans allow for call forwarding, which means that you can actually answer any calls to your US phone number using a virtual number provided to you by Tossable Digits.
Another benefit of Tossable Digits is that I have a phone number to give out to potential employers while job searching from South America. I started looking for jobs in DC about a month ago, and knowing I could provide them my actual US phone number – and that I would be able to know if they reached out to me on that number – provided some piece of mind during the stressful job application process.
I’ve been using Tossable Digits since I started my trip in October and have no complaints. The website set-up was a bit confusing initially, but after contacting customer support they guided me through the correct set-up and I was able to port my phone number easily and quickly. Once I return to the US I plan to switch back to my $6 a month Tello plan, but I would recommend Tossable Digits to anyone travelling for long periods of time who wants to maintain their US phone number.
P.S. One of my favorite travel podcasters, Traveling Jackie, has teamed up with Tossable Digits to offer new users their first month of usage for $1!