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6 Options For Contacting Home When Travelling - For eGeniuses And Technophobes Alike

posted 29 Nov 2010, 14:47 by Mpelembe   [ updated 29 Nov 2010, 14:48 ]

So, the vacation plans are set. Tickets are booked, packing
is done, dog has been left with the neighbours. All the
vaccinations have been injected (ouch), visas are arranged
and there's no sign of political unrest on the television.
What have you forgotten?

Oh, that's right - you're leaving Mum behind, and she's
worried that you'll never come back. And all your friends
keep asking you to let them know about your adventures. How
are you going to keep everyone updated?

You may be escaping the country for a well-earned vacation,
but you'll probably still need to send word back home. Here
are 6 options for keeping in contact when travelling, no
matter if you're a iWhiz or you have trouble finding the
on-switch on a computer.

...low-tech options for staying in contact while travelling
Get confused working a microwave? These are for you...

1) Postcards
Ahhh, postcards; the classic option. Who really needs more
than a couple of sentences to say that you're still alive
and wishing that the recipient was there? You should be able
to find postcards all over the place on your travels, but you
can always take some with you just in case. If you're really
organized, you can even pre-fill the addresses.

Another option is to get a couple of your travel photos
printed as a postcard alternative - try taking the memory
card of your digital camera to a printing shop, and then
scribble a message and a sending address on the back with a
postage stamp!

Remember that in most places it costs more to send something
in an envelope; postcards are your cheapest option.

2) Pay phones/Call centres
A long time ago in a galaxy far away, people used landlines
to talk to each other. Believe it or not, this still happens
and you shouldn't have too much trouble finding a payphone.

To get the best possible deal with land line calls, you
should probably buy an international calling-card. Post
offices, call centres or even your hotel will sell cards
that give you a better rate when phoning home.

...medium-tech options for staying in contact while
travelling You're not afraid of a couple of gadgets. Bring
it on!

3) Cell phones
Most of us know how to work a cell phone these days, and
probably have our own. You've got a couple of options for
using it abroad; get an international talk plan from your
current network provider, or pick up a SIM card in your
destination country.

If you go down the talk-plan route, be wary of excessive
call fees, and find out if you can get a tariff that allows
you to call a limited selection of numbers for cheap. Also
check out other network providers - now might be a good time
to switch for a better deal.

To get a calling plan in your destination country, you'll
have much cheaper options for calls within the country that
you're visiting, and quite possibly when calling home. You
can even use your current cell phone in some cases, but most
likely you'll need to get it unblocked. Ask your tour
operator for advice on this, or any local vacation friends
that you make.

Either way, text messaging will cost you a lot less than
calls, so get those thumbs warmed up and practise
communicating in 140 characters!

4) Email
If you don't have an email account already, it's easy and
free to open one with companies like Hotmail, Yahoo or
Gmail; a Google search will give you the link to get

Gather email addresses from friends and family to get your
mailing list ready and send them all a test message before
you leave to check that all the addresses work.

If you really want to make life easier for yourself, try
making a group on your email program to avoid typing all the
addresses in every time; the program help files should
provide instructions on how to do this.

...high-tech options for staying in contact while travelling
You're reading this on the internet after running a search
for it - these options should be no problem!

5) Blogging
Blogging is an alternative to email. Instead of sending a
message to someone, you post stories, photos and videos on a
unique page on the internet and your friends and family can
visit it to see what you're up to.

Here are the simplest options to get a travel blog set up.
All these options are free. If you'd like to be handed a
travel blogging program on a plate, try websites like or

If you'd rather choose a more personal looking blog but
don't feel like writing an essay every time you post, Tumblr
is an attractive, simple option for short posting. If you'd
like the whole shebang for longer posting in an easy to
setup format, try Blogger.

6) Skype
You want to make free calls to anyone anywhere in the world.
So what's stopping you?

Skype is a revolutionary program that allows users to make
calls over the internet completely free between computers,
or very cheaply to landlines or cell phones internationally.
You'll find the program installed in most computers in
Internet cafes around the globe.

You can register for a free account on the website but to be able to make completely free calls
the person that you want to contact must have a computer
with the program installed as well. Clear, simple
instructions are on Skype's website to help get you

What do you think is the best way to stay in touch with
friends and family from abroad? What are your experiences
with these options? Are there any options missing from this

About the Author:

Gary Sargent is the Managing Director of the tour companies
Escaped to Peru and Escaped to Latin America and has lived
in South America for over 10 years. Gary is passionate about
Latino life, people, customs and places. To learn more or to
book your next adventure please visit