POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 28, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 1:45 a.m. HST, Aug 4, 2013
» What it does: This app allows for free calling, text messaging, photo sharing and video chats among Vonage Mobile app holders. In addition, you can make low-cost international calls to those who don't have the app.
» Available for: Android, iOS iPhone, iPod, iPad
» Cost: Free
» What's hot: I downloaded this app so I could video-chat with my friends in Britain for free, but I was happily surprised to find the location-sharing feature in the "Chat" section. It has many helpful uses, not the least of which is keeping track of your teens in the neighborhood or backpackers on a round-the-world trip. Travelers in a foreign city can have their independent adventures and easily meet up later with this quick and easy-to-use tool.
» What's not: None of my friends had the Vonage Mobile app, so I had to spend some time trying to persuade them to download it. Make sure you take this step well before you leave the country if you want to keep in touch for free.
» Worth it: Yes. Just make sure you have strong Wi-Fi when trying to video-chat. Hotel Wi-Fi is fickle: Sometimes the signal is weak, and sometimes it seems stronger on laptops than on smartphones.
Jen Leo / Los Angeles Times