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Most long-distance and international calls can be dialed directly from any phone. For calls within the United States and to Canada, dial 1 followed by the area code and the seven-digit number. For other international calls, dial 011 followed by the country code, city code, and the number you are calling.

To make a direct call to the U.S. from outside of North America, first dial 001, followed by the area code, and phone number.

Calls to area codes 800, 888, 877, and 866 are toll-free. However, calls to area codes 700 and 900 (chat lines, bulletin boards, "dating" services, and so on) can be very expensive -- usually a charge of 95¢ to $3 or more per minute, and they sometimes have minimum charges that can run as high as $15 or more.

For reversed-charge or collect calls, and for person-to-person calls, dial the number 0 then the area code and number; an operator will come on the line, and you should specify whether you are calling collect, person-to-person, or both. If your operator-assisted call is international, ask for the overseas operator.

For local directory assistance ("information"), dial 411; for long-distance information, dial 1, then the appropriate area code and 555-1212.

Cellphones

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Just because your cellphone works at home doesn't mean it'll work everywhere in the U.S., thanks to our nation's fragmented cellphone system. It's a good bet that your phone will work in major cities, but take a look at your wireless company's coverage map on its website before heading out; T-Mobile, Sprint, and Nextel are particularly weak in rural areas. If you need to stay in touch at a destination where you know your phone won't work, rent a phone that does from InTouch USA (tel. 800/872-7626; www.intouchusa.com) or a rental car location, but beware that you'll pay a premium for airtime.

If you're not from the U.S., you'll be appalled at the poor reach of our GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) wireless network, which is used by much of the rest of the world. Your phone will probably work in most major U.S. cities; it definitely won't work in many rural areas. And you may or may not be able to send SMS (text messaging) home from some of these states' most secluded corners, either, including areas in the national parks.

Internet/E-Mail

Without Your Own Computer -- Easy Internet access is coming quickly to Montana and Wyoming, with major tourist areas such as Jackson and the ski resorts leading the way. You'll have more trouble in rural communities, although cybercafes are beginning to pop up even there, and most public libraries offer Internet access. Cybercafes can be found in the downtowns of most major cities.

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Most major airports have Internet kiosks that provide basic Web access for a per-minute fee that's usually higher than cybercafe prices. Check out copy shops like FedEx Office, which offers computer stations with Internet access.

The national parks have limited connectivity; Yellowstone has almost none.

With Your Own Computer -- Most hotels, resorts, airports, cafes, and retailers have installed Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity), becoming "hotspots" that offer free high-speed Wi-Fi access or charge a small fee for usage. Wi-Fi is even found in campgrounds, RV parks, and even entire towns. Almost all laptops sold today have built-in wireless capability.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.