How to Keep Your Cell Phone Number While You Travel

A little less than a year ago, my husband and I decided to sell our things, pack up four suitcases and move from the USA to Salzburg, Austria. Why? Because we were searching for a new adventure. Living abroad would allow us to step outside our comfort zone, become familiar with the unfamiliar, and, most importantly, travel throughout Europe.

There was a lot that we needed to accomplish before our big move. We had to get rid of some of our most prized possessions, which was not easy by any means. But there was one thing that we simply could not give up. One thing that we needed to save for our return to the USA years down the road…

Our cell phone numbers.

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international phone number
© Hassen Salum

It seems so minor but think about it for a second. When you’ve had the exact same digits from your teenage years to your 30s – since the days of Nokia and hours of playing Snake to smartphones and making video calls – it’s not something you can easily give up.

We knew we’d be living abroad for 2-3 years and then we’d settle back in the USA to start a family and put down our roots. So what would happen when we move back? Everyone important has these specific cell phone numbers saved. There had to be an option other than saying goodbye to our beloved digits.

Listen to Erin tell their story about moving to Austria on the BMT Podcast

So, we began our research…

We found that regular cell phone carriers like Verizon cost $20 per month to keep your cell phone number reserved with no plan. That would mean over $700 in our case (= trip to a new European country.) Not worth it!

Then we thought maybe we could suspend our account while we’re living abroad instead and reactivate it when we return. Nope! They’ll only suspend your existing account for 6 months total, which clearly wouldn’t cover our 3 years.

After we thought we’d exhausted our options, we came across Tossable Digits, a Virtual Number company.

Virtual Phone Numbers are telephone numbers without an associated telephone line. They can be set up and changed within minutes and can ring to any existing phone. Essentially, they allow you to have multiple lines without having multiple phones. With your Virtual Number, you also get tons of free features like call recording, call forwarding, custom voicemail, and a whole lot more!

It’s clear they can do wonders in the business world – through tracking SEO advertising, managing multiple departments through one line, etc., but a Virtual Number can also be helpful in your personal life too…

How Virtual Numbers Saved Our Day

aka How to Keep Your Cell Phone Number While You Travel

Okay, so any phone number can become a Virtual Phone Number. Through a process called porting, you can turn any landline, business, or mobile phone number into a Virtual Phone Number by transferring it to Tossable Digits. Then you can choose to let it sit, or you can choose to forward it to a new existing local line.

Travel Planning Tip: Order a prepaid SIM card before you travel!

Tossable Digits - Call Rules

This is just what we needed. There’s even a simple plan that’s perfect for expats or those traveling long-term. It only costs $3.50 per month to “park” your number with Tossable Digits, or $40/year (half of what you’d normally pay for your cell phone bill in one month!).

In other words, let’s say you have a Verizon cell phone. While you’re living abroad, you port your Verizon number to Tossable Digits, allowing you to cancel your Verizon phone plan completely. Tossable Digits will then save your number without an associated plan or telephone line. Note: Once you port your number, your current carrier plan is canceled. For example, you cannot stay with Verizon AND use Tossable Digits.

And when you return, you simply port the number from Tossable Digits, who’s been keeping your number safe since you’ve been gone, back to Verizon — and voila! Everything is back to the way it was before you left.

The best part is there are no cancellation fees whatsoever! When you move back to the USA, you can port your phone number back to Verizon instantly, with no hidden charges from Tossable Digits. It’s one of the most flexible and inexpensive options we came across in our mission to save our own digits.

To top it off, we learned about this option from their website’s live chat and were guided through the entire process by their seriously helpful (and patient!) customer service team. Another huge bonus of working with Tossable Digits – both cost AND customer service are top-notch. Since we signed up, I’ve had at least 3 different questions regarding our account and they’ve answered every single one, every single time.

They now have a mobile app with features to make using your virtual number as easy as possible. Features include SMS text messaging, outdialing, voicemail, call recording, and call logs.

Call-Forwarding: Keep Your Business Running While You’re Abroad

We also learned that the company works great if you’ll be running a business while you’re living abroad or traveling long term. You can implement call forwarding on your business line (aka your Virtual Number) to your new local line abroad for low per-minute rates. Yes, you need a local phone number for this to work, but clients will have no idea they’re calling an entirely different country. It will be a local call for your clients, no matter where you are physically located.

Lite Annual Plan

The possibilities are pretty much endless, but for right now, we are happy that our cell phone numbers will be kept safe and sound during our adventures in Europe. And when we move back to the USA, our friends and family will know exactly how to reach us.

To them, it will seem like nothing’s ever changed. We’ll pick up right where we left off with the same digits, settling in the same country we left behind. BUT with a whole new perspective and appreciation for the beautiful and wonderful world that we live in.

A true win all around – for us, for our future, and for our friends and family.

See pricing and plans for Tossable Digits.

Feature by Erin Zipperle | @survivingeurope

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