How to keep in contact when abroad

14/01/2013 - Vicky Lessen

When your child goes off to experience the world, delve into culture and discover themselves, one worry that consistently occurs in a parents mind is how on earth will you keep in contact? Similarly if you are a student, jetting off on your travels in your gap year before starting university or beginning your career, you will also be wondering how will you keep up to date with the latest gossip from friends and keep your parents relaxed, ensuring them you haven’t yet been abducted or run out of money (the main worries my parents had when I went travelling around South America last year).

So how exactly can you keep in contact? Everyone in today’s permanent social online and technology dominated world can easily find out what is going on with their friends and family just by logging into facebook or twitter or just simply sending an SMS. However as you leave the country this all becomes a lot more expensive and the so-called norm of contact vanishes. This is of course only unless you have unlimited funds or a very generous parent to pay your inevitable ever amounting phone bill. I am going to give you some tips I picked up from my travels to help with this problem and hope it will give you a little sigh of relief that you will not be completely out of reach from the rest of the world.

1.      Precautions

First off you are likely to be taking a phone of some sorts with you anyway as an emergency port of call. Do not take your swanky brand new phone with an abundance of apps, this will be a bad advertisement and may attract the wrong crowd. You also don’t want to leave it on a bus or drop it in the sea when learning to surf those waves in Australia. It is best to take an old phone, which your household should have at least one of lying about. I would check in the ‘’Man Drawer’’ to quote Michael McIntyre. It is also safe to say, using a brick phone will not damage your street credibility when you’re trekking to Machu Picchu or volunteering in Malawi.

You may need to let you service provider know you are going abroad to find out prices etc. You may also need to get your SIM unlocked. This article from The Telegraph better explains this.

You may also be interested in buying a local SIM when abroad acquiring local costs, which is far cheaper! If you are going to be going deep into the jungle, or some where completely off the beaten track you may want to take a look into getting yourself a satellite phone for emergencies.

2.      Write an Itinerary

What I did just before I went away, just for additional safety and for the family’s sake, was to give my parents a rough guide as to where I will be and when. I wrote an itinerary of place names, dates and contact information. It is really good for putting your parent’s minds at rest and is also fantastic if you end up in a pickle.

3.      Update your Status

Although you may think exploring long lost cities may leave you far from a source of internet, you are mistaken. In most cities and towns you will find local, friendly and incredibly cheap internet cafes. Your hostel as well often has free wifi at hand or a mini computer room to use. I used to go to an internet café once or twice a week and would catch up with all my friends via facebook or twitter. Just updating your status, letting everyone know you are safe and sound and enjoying your travels will keep a lot of people happy. Just remember to no get dragged back in to the continuous stream of social media too much.

4.      Blogging

 My friends and relatives were especially interested in what I was doing whilst in South America and so I kept a blog which I managed to update weekly with a day to day summary of what I got up to. I could even upload my photo’s which was comforting for my parents and caused a lot of envy amongst friends. It is also a great way for you to keep a diary so you can look back through each post when you are back and re-live the amazing journey you had. A well written blog can be a big advantage on your CV as well, showing off your skills for future employment!

5.      Skype 

Skype is a brilliant way to chat without paying a thing. Most internet cafés I visited were equipped with a webcam and headset allowing you to chat to your mates and family, one continent to another. If you’re not already signed up to Skype, sign up now following the link below. It doesn’t cost a thing and so really there is no reason not to!

Travelling can give you so many valuable skills for both your future career and your own personal development. If you want to go explore the world but are worried about keeping up the contact with family and relatives at home then I hope this article has helped solve a problem so many, many of us travellers face. You can still continue to keep in touch with all those important people, however remember that you are there to enjoy yourself, so relax and look forward to your adventure.

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