Don’t Forget to Pack Your Phone Number

There’s nothing worse than heading out on that big adventure or trip of a lifetime and discovering that you forgot to pack underwear, a tube of toothpaste, or something else. I’m pretty sure you weren’t planning to interrupt your full itinerary to find a store to purchase that essential item. Ugh! Few things are more frustrating or annoying to me.

To ensure that I never forget to pack the essentials, I start a packing list in the weeks leading up to my trip and then I experience the pure bliss of checking those things off the list as I prepare for the trip. If you’re an avid list-maker like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

We (hopefully) all agree that toothpaste and underwear are crucial when packing for a trip. But what about your telephone number? Yes, your telephone number absolutely belongs on your packing list.

If you’ve never traveled internationally or for long periods of time, you may be wondering what to do with your landline and cell numbers while away.

“Do I keep paying my monthly landline or cell phone bill even though I’m gone and not using it?”

If you have traveled abroad or for an extended time period, you know the challenges of navigating communication while trying to avoid additional bills for your unused landline number, or excessive roaming charges on your cell phone.

Include “porting” in your travel checklist

If you’re unfamiliar with porting, parking and forwarding, these little-known phone number tools can save you hundreds of dollars and help you streamline your communications while away. With number porting, you can transfer most landlines or cell numbers to a different carrier or companies like NumberBarn, and keep your original phone number even when you relocate or travel.

After you’ve ported, you can park (or store) your landline or cell number for however long you want and discontinue your service with your mobile carrier or landline company. To stay even more accessible to your contacts and loved ones, you can then forward your number (yes, landline numbers, too) to any other U.S. or Canadian number that you prefer (and many international numbers as well).

People calling your forwarded number won’t see the number it’s forwarded to, only the original number, making it an ideal solution for long-term and foreign travelers.

(So if you’re traveling to the U.S. from Canada, your Canadian contacts can still reach you via your Canadian landline number or wireless number. You can answer them from a cheaper U.S. mobile number and cancel your Canadian phone service while you’re away, for instance.)

When you forget to pack your number

Our customer support team frequently interacts with customers who are embarking on long, international trips, serving on a mission to a far-away destination, or participating in study abroad programs. We also work with many other individuals who’ve chosen to migrate from cold areas of Canada or the northern United States to the warmer climates of Arizona or Mexico. These people are often referred to as snowbirds.

They may encounter complications with their phone numbers when they wish to port their telephone number to NumberBarn AFTER their trip has begun. In short, they left for their trip and forgot to pack their phone number.

These complications aren’t insurmountable, however. We make every effort to help customers port their telephone number, regardless of timing, so they can:

  • Save money by canceling their pricey mobile phone plan. Rumor has it that Canadian customers save a whole lot on roaming charges when traveling south.
  • Continue to receive important text messages and even two-factor messages from institutions that support landline numbers.
  • Play a message to let callers know you’re on a trip or forward calls to another number — even international numbers.

Time zones & carriers: Ugh!

There are a few hurdles we encounter when attempting to port numbers after a trip has begun. First, imagine being in a European time zone and working with a carrier who offers customer support from 9 AM to 5 PM Pacific time. If you’re in Spain with a 9-hour time difference, that means you’ll need to contact your current phone company from 6 PM to 2 AM local time to work on your number port. Which isn’t exactly convenient, or fun either.

Also consider that when porting Canadian numbers, carriers often send their subscribers a text message giving them ninety minutes to reply. This timing can be a problem given the time difference.

Another challenge occurs when customers have already swapped their SIM card for an international one or canceled their prepaid wireless service altogether and have to reactivate service to receive that text message. It’s always best to keep your telephone number active with the current service provider until porting is complete. Don’t worry, many of these complications are avoidable. Here’s a less stressful approach to add to your packing and preparation checklist.

Remembering to pack your number

We love it when customers contact us and say something like “I’m leaving for a trip in a month or two. How can I ensure that my friends and family can reach me while I’m gone?” Now this is preparedness at its very finest!

For customers in this scenario we always direct them to our handy step-by-step guide on porting their number to NumberBarn which walks them through the process of porting their number. Key considerations in this process include:

That last one is a big one. It’s understandable that a customer would not want porting to complete until the beginning of their trip. And I’ve interacted with many a frustrated customer whose number ported quicker than expected  — leaving them without a working mobile phone for a couple of days. We will work with you and do our best to schedule the port on your day of choice.

Bon Voyage!

And just like that, your telephone number is ready for your trip and you’ve checked another item off your pre-trip list. Isn’t that peace of mind just the best?

Getting ready to spread your wings? Snowbirds (and other travelers) can learn more about parking and forwarding here. Enjoy your trip and feel free to contact our team with any questions and for any help getting started. When you return from your trip, we are happy to help you port your number back to your service provider or wireless carrier.

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Written by

Jeremy Watkin

Jeremy Watkin is Director of Customer Support and Experience at NumberBarn. Not only does he love serving customers, but he's a prolific writer and speaker on the topic and has been recognized numerous times for his thought leadership. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter. His handle is @jtwatkin.