Keeping In Touch While Overseas

Gone are the days when travellers would have to pay hefty telephone bills or walk miles to the nearest payphone and offload all their change in order to call their loved ones back at home. The advent of mobile phones, call cards and, more importantly, the Internet make keeping in touch whilst overseas a much easier and cheaper affair.

In recent years, the mobile phone has proven to be a welcome asset whilst travelling. Not only do modern phones serve as an alarm clock, diary and camera, they also give quick access to friends and family at home. A quick text or call to say that you have arrived safely is often enough to put a relative’s or friend’s mind at ease, and at a fraction of the cost of a similar service 10 years ago.

For a longer chat, international mobile phone charges remain expensive, and we are lucky to have a range of options available to us to facilitate cheap and quick contact. Locally produced SIM cards provide an excellent option for those with pay-as-you-go phones. They are relatively cheap, the card can be ‘topped up’ and they have the added advantage of being reusable. Overall, they are a worthwhile investment for the frequent traveller. Top-up Internet SIM cards are also available and enable the user to send an email from any location without having to connect to an hotel’s or café’s wireless network and pay their, sometimes extortionate, fees.

The Internet remains important in keeping in touch and is usually available in many public places, such as libraries. A quick email is a convenient way to keep those at home informed of your plans and you can, of course, attach photos to each email. Another very popular method of electronic communication whilst abroad is a ‘voice over Internet protocol’ (VOIP) service, such as Skype, available worldwide. As long as you have an Internet connection and a correspondent who also is connected, this, often free, service enables unlimited conversation, with the added advantage of video calls if you have the right facilities. VOIP also offers you the chance to call home to landlines at a substantially lower rate than a mobile or hotel phone.

Of course, there remains a lot to be said for the traditional post card—often arriving several days after your return home—but it is a nice way to remind you of your travels!

Date posted: 1st August, 2011

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