Over the past little while, I’ve moved to different countries, and changed cell providers a few times. However, if I’ve given you my number before, you’ll notice how it has never changed. And I’m reachable at that number no matter where I am in the world.
I’ve received text messages in Japan and taken phone calls while at the pyramids in Egypt without even having data.
It turns out it’s very easy and cheap to make this happen if you use the right services in conjunction.
Google Voice numbers -> Twilio numbers -> Local numbers
This is the main phone number that I pass around to my friends. It’s very easy to create a Google Voice account and set it up.
The reason you can’t just forward straight from Google Voice to your local number that you might have in Japan, or Canada — is that Google doesn’t forward numbers outside of the U.S.
From there – you have to connect your Twilio numbers (that are proxies for your foreign numbers) using Google Voice’s forwarding system here.
Since Twilio supports a lot of international countries and regions – it’s a great service to forward your calls with. It’s also very cheap to maintain phone numbers – I usually have one or two numbers that are setup for new SIM cards outside the U.S. ready if I’m travelling. It only costs $1 month for each number.
You’ll have to buy a U.S. phone number (since Google Voice can only forward to U.S. numbers) and configure it to forward calls and texts to your actual number outside of the U.S.
Here’s an example:
Buy number 415-XXX-XXXX (a U.S. California number) and configure it to call and text 011–81–90–xxxx–xxxx (a Japanese number).
This is where stdlib comes in – to provide an easy way for us to respond to the webhooks and not have to worry about maintenance of this whole system.
Twilio needs a response that tells it to forward the call or message to another number. This can done very simple using their Twiml system.
The good news is that if you’d like to do this – I’ve already written the code and open sourced it here. All you have to do is configure the service and put in the URLs into Twilio and you’re good to go!
You’ll need one for voice calls:
and one for SMS:
Of course, you’ll have to do this for every new number that you acquire in different parts of the world. I highly recommend keeping the same SIM cards and just reactivating them as you re-enter countries.
Thanks for reading about one of my weird life hacks.
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