If you’re someone who likes to travel for longer than the average 2 week vacation, there’s no doubt that one of the most challenging things you’ll face is staying in touch with people back home.
The simple fact is, to continually travel the world you sacrifice the majority of your pre existing relationships. Even if you’re close with your family and friends, it’s very easy to lose contact when you’re in completely different locations.
After-all, you’re busy traveling, they’re busy with their stuff, and without even realizing it, you end up missing out on milestones and momentous occasions because you’re on the other side of the world, in a different time zone.
But staying in touch doesn’t have to be expensive, and with tech nowadays it’s actually very easy to keep in contact.
Cheap Ways to Stay in Touch With Home While Traveling
Buy a Local SIM
First up, calling home!
When traveling internationally, many cellphone providers charge high rates to cover roaming fees. Sending a text or checking emails quickly becomes a costly expense, and you can wind up with a $500 bill quite quickly.
But, you can call home while you travel quite cheaply by buying local / travel SIMs, and ditching your home country’s SIM card (make sure your phone is unlocked).
Local SIMs are cheap and easy to find (you can often pick one up at the arrivals hall of an airport), and they have the added bonus of coming with data too, meaning you can stay connected with email and social media.
Or, if you don’t want to be switching local SIMs every time you land in a new country, you could buy a travel SIM, which is specifically meant for people who are travelling around a lot.
Most providers charge a fee to unlock your phone (meaning you can use different SIMs), but if you travel a lot, the money you save on roaming fees by getting a local SIM card makes the convenience worth the price of paying to unlock your phone.
Email & Faxing
One of the most common ways to write home when you’re traveling now is email. If you want to simply check in, or update people on what you’ve been doing, it’s so easy to send messages, especially with email apps on our smartphones.
That said, something to consider when you’re logging into your email account from different countries is that your email provide might block / restrict your account if they deem your location suspicious (just as banks freeze your credit card if there are foreign transactions they’re not expecting).
Email providers freeze accounts all the time if you’re logging in from somewhere unusual, or trying to gain access from a country you don’t live. Your account gets flagged, and you might have an uphill battle when it comes to restoring your account.
To prevent this from happening, use a VPN (a Virtual Private Network). VPN’s allow you to you can “spoof” your location to another country meaning when you connect to your email, your provider will think you’ve never left home.
You can also think about using a free fax service online, where you can send faxes without the use of a fax machine: a great way to keep in touch, and perhaps a quirky and interesting way to send a message.
Apps like Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and Skype are a godsend when it comes to staying in touch with people back home; not only can you call, but you can actually see each other’s faces!
Video calls with the above mentioned apps are free, so as long as you have WiFi you can chat for as long as you want to. Just be courteous and remember the time zone of the person you’re calling!
Additionally, international calls are incredibly cheap via Skype – something to the effect of 3-10 cents per minute depending on which country you’re calling to/from. So even if your parents, grandparents or siblings don’t have a computer, throw on $10 of Skype credit and start making calls!
Obviously, social media is a great way to stay in touch with people back home. Whether you’re on Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Twitter (the list goes on), social media is a quick and easy way to stay on top of what’s happening in the lives of your loved ones.
You can easily scroll through your feed and like and comment on people’s posts, without having to necessarily spend the time or money calling people individually if you’re strapped for time.
This is a great way for them to stay updated with your travels too, and feel as though they’re part of the journey with you. It’s the next best thing to shared memories.
Despite the fact that you don’t visit your letterbox anymore, the act of sending postcards is not dead. Secretly everyone loves the idea of postcards, but as social media swept in we lost the motivation to buy them, write them, and track down a local post office.
To revive the act of sending postcards, and make it easy and relevant for modern travelers, there are websites / apps like MyPostcard that allow you to upload your message and photos, and they print and mail them as a real postcard.
It’s easy, cheap, and solid proof that the age of the postcard is not dead!
And think about it; when you send a Facebook message or email, do people save and treasure it? Do they print out your tweet and stick it to the front of their fridge? Do they pass it around their friends and family?
No. But they do that with a postcard.
They do that with a postcard because it’s more exciting. More thoughtful. More interesting.
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