I am heading to Romania for work at the beginning of December. I was wondering if anyone could tell me the cheapest way to communicate in real time from Romania to the US? I am going to be taking my laptop. Is the bandwidth in Romania fast enough to do Skype to Skype from WiFi in my hotel room? Can I buy a cheap pay as you go phone from a Romanian wireless carrier? I have a Blackberry Storm2 on Verizon, but they want $1.29/min, can I use it some other way? What's my best option?
Your first choice is Skype. Skype has a helpful list of minimum and recommended network bandwidth needed for various types of calls. As you can see there, the recommended minimum for voice calls is 100kbps, which you should find easily at most WiFi hotspots. And this is a bit anecdotal, but if you have a smartphone then install Skype on it and use over WiFi: it sometimes gives better voice quality on low-bandwidth connections than taking the same call on a computer.
If you're a Gmail user based in the US, then Google Voice within Gmail should already allow you to make free calls to US phone numbers.
You could also take a look at Jajah. Jajah is slightly different in that you go to a website and you enter a number you want to call, and then it rings both you and the destination party on your phones. I used Jajah when travelling around in SE Asia as I wasn't sure of getting good/free WiFi everywhere. All I needed to do was to buy a local SIM card (incoming calls are almost always free) and then use Jajah to make international calls.
Easy. If you're taking a laptop, Skype is the answer. Romania has the second fastest internet speeds in the world (I know, I was shocked when I read it two months ago, which is why it stuck in my head).
Hostels have wifi as well, some hotels will too, so that's really probably your best option, if price is your primary factor to consider. Others may well have suggestions on phones though.
A Romanian friend who used to stay in the US told me recently that she purchased a cheap pre-pay card from the carrier Orange that included many minutes of free calls to the US. Perhaps this is something to look into if you don't have reliable internet access (in which case communication is a non-issue).
I suggest you find an Orange shop where they speak English (or take someone with you), and inquire there.
EDIT After a quick glance at the page I linked to it seems you'd get 75 minutes (perhaps only once a month?) for 5 euros. If you're under 26, you may get a better offer. I don't really have time to look at the pages in detail, so you should verify this.
EDIT 2 In Europe we use the GSM standard, I don't know if your phone supports that or not. Even if it does, it might be locked to your home carrier and might not accept a Romanian SIM card.
I would also checkout Rebtel. Basically, you call a local number and they handle the rest of the distance via VOIP for a low fee. Alternatively, you can hang up within 10 seconds (which is free) and get your friend to call you back. They will see a local number, so you both only pay for local calls and Rebtel will charge nothing. Note though, that if you don't have a local SIM, you will still be charged roaming fees. They support Romania.
Although this was asked a long time ago, perhaps someone would find this useful.
Orange has good services for international calls, you can get a prepaid SIM card, pay 6 euros and have unlimited minutes+sms in network, 500 minutes to other networks and other countries (US included), 500MB internet. These options change from time to time, but there is always something good enough for a cheap price. I know it is not enough for working remotely and communicating with the US for a longer time, so perhaps try finding open workplaces, there are a handful, as Bucharest is full of (IT) workers who need workspace while being on the move. Take a look at sharedesk or nomadlist - or directly to this workspace.