I travel a lot and keeping in touch with family and friends back in Germany and Europe is important to me. While in Europe, voice roaming charges have fortunately come down to a level in recent years to make calls back home, even longer ones, pretty much headache free. Still not cheap, but not expensive enough to look for a more complicated alternative. Outside of Europe, however, things are still different.
When I am in the US, for example, the price per minute for a voice call back home is a staggering 1.49 euros a minute. That is almost 90 euros per hour! That's a bit much so I have found myself the following alternative that you might be interested in if you plan to travel to the US as well:
I went to an AT&T store and got myself a prepaid SIM card, which is now free by the way, and activated the 2 dollars voice+sms a day option. This includes all national calls to US numbers. Since my calls all go abroad that doesn't help much by itself. To add the international calling ability I use Rebtel for many years now. They are giving me national numbers in the country I am that I can call for fixed and mobile numbers abroad. The call to those numbers are part of the 2 dollars a day offer. And from there Rebtel charges a cent or two per minute to a fixed line destination or around 12 cents a minute to a mobile. So for one hour of calls a day to fixed line destinations I pay 2 dollars + 60 x 2 cents = 3.8 dollars. Compare that to 90 euros a day if I dialed direct and sum that up over a week…
And for Internet access on the move or in overcrowded meetings, my D100 Wi-Fi/3G router with a US band capable 3G stick + an AT&T prepaid SIM card with one of their data options serves me good as well. Skype calls are possible, so I can enjoy better voice quality when calling other Skype users when I am stationary.
For more tips on how to save on communication charges while traveling, have a look here.