Keeping in Touch on Your Travels
In this day and age, even if you are travelling to the most far flung corners of the Earth, staying in touch with family and friends at home is still feasible. With more options than ever before, it is now your choice whether you want to hold long distance phone conversations, write old fashioned love letters, or just check in with a quick e-mail. Whatever you decide, remember that those at home will want to know not just what you are doing, but how you are doing as well. Save a few colourful anecdotes for each, and your correspondence will soon be in high demand!
Flexible Phone CallsLet family and friends know that you are thinking of them in the most personal way possible - with your own voice! The miles will melt away when you hear the sounds of home, but make sure to investigate cost effective options so you can talk for as long, or as often, as you like. Popular options include:
- Reverse charge calls. Otherwise known as calling collect, these conversations are initiated by calling the operator and having him/her ask the party you are calling if they will accept the charges. The benefit for you is that you end up paying no money, but the charges are high for those at the other end. You'll probably want to save these for emergencies only.
- Mobile phones. If you splash out on a mobile that works around the world, be warned that the calling charges will be high and some networks may even charge the receiver for the minutes they talk to you. Investigate the cost of text messaging as well since this is often a cheaper alternative.
- Calling cards. Buying prepaid calling cards is a great way to keep a lid on your budget. These cards come in prepaid denominations (usually corresponding to £5, £10 or £20) and come equipped with a local number through which you make your long distance call. Keep a calling card with you at all times and you'll be ready for anything your trip throws at you.
Super Snail MailMake like your ancestors and keep in touch with home via the post. From long letters to cute cards to perky postcards, there are many ways to let everyone know you are thinking of them.
- Postcards. Your friends will thank you for sending them a picture postcard to brighten their day, and not only will you have to scrawl just a few lines but they are cheap to buy and even cheaper to send. A winner all around!
- Cards. Whether hand made or store bought, cards let you write a bit and enclose any photos or other documents you desire. Browse markets and stores for a bit of local colour.
- Air letters. Inquire at local post offices if air letters are available. These thin sheets are incredibly economical as the cost of postage is included.
- Letters. From airmail to registered, there are a variety of options for the safety and speed of your post. Often standard postage stamps can be bought at local markets, newsagents and at train and bus stations, but if you require further options you will want to check in with the postal service in your host country.
Excellent Electronic OptionsIf immediate communication is more your style, then nothing beats a quick e-mail. Hostels often offer free Internet access from which you can access a web-based e-mail account, and Internet cafes usually offer a student or young persons' rate to help you save some money.
- Web-based e-mail. Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail are very popular web-based e-mail accounts that you can access from any Internet application.
- Address books. Use the address book of your e-mail account to save time. Simply type in the name of the person you wish to email and their address will be ready and waiting.
- E-cards. Many websites offer free e-cards for you to send as needed. These come in particularly handy for birthdays and holidays. American card company Hallmark offers a wide range.
- Mobile phone accounts. Some mobile phone providers offer free online tie-ins, such as a number of free texts from their Internet site. Investigate your options for when you are away.
- Internet telephony. Many applications such as Skype and other voice over Internet protocols act like a telephone you can access via the Internet. As long as you have an account and a microphone on your computer, you can "call" others via their computer or telephone. The cost of these calls is much less than using traditional telephone companies.