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Texting or Emailing US from Tanzania

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I'll be in Tanzania for 2 weeks in July. I'm trying to find the least expensive way of occassionally staying in touch with family in the US while gone. I have an iPhone through AT&T. I know I can buy a small international text package but I seem to recall reading about a way to text or pseudo-email for free/close to free however I cannot find that post.

Does anyone have suggestions? I usually don't worry about texting/calling family while travelling internationally but I'll be climbing Kilimanjaro and want to let everyone know we made it!

Would it be best to find an unlocked phone and buy a local SIM card? Has anyone done this?

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