posted by Guest blogger - Jane Meighan | 1 Comments
Our latest guest blogger is Jane Meighan, editor of travel blog Runaway Jane. Jane was bitten by the travel bug four years ago after going to Australia and now travels regularly around Europe. You can follow Jane’s travels via her Twitter page @runawayjane and by liking her facebook page. In this post Jane tells us of her top tips for staying in touch on the road...
Tips for staying in touch on the road
Staying in touch on the road is important to many travellers. Being able to do so in a way that does not cost a fortune, however, is just as important! It can take a load off your mind when deciding to embark on a trip, knowing you'll be able to keep in touch with everybody back home without taking chunks our of your travel fund. It can also ease the mind of your friends and family if they know they'll be in regular contact with you on your forthcoming adventures. Below I have compiled my top five cost-effective tips for staying in touch on the road...
Over the last few years Skype has become one of the most important tools for any traveller. It's completely free to sign up to, and you can call, message, or video call any Skype user completely free of charge. You can also call direct to a landline or mobile (cell) phone at a local rate i.e. if the person you are calling doesn't have a Skype account, or is away from their computer, then you can call them on their landline without having to pay any international call rates. There are also many mobile phones now which have Skype already installed on them as an application, so you don’t even need to have access to a computer to use it.
2. Social Networking
One of the quickest and easiest ways to stay in touch is online via social networking sites such as facebook and Twitter. You can update people daily on where you are, or what you are doing with just one Tweet or status update on facebook. This method of contact also saves a lot of time if you are being charged per minute for internet access, as all your contacts will be updated of your status, rather than having to contact them all individually. It's also a great place to share your travel photos and videos, and keep up to date with what's going on with your friends and family back home without spending time sending emails home to each person individually. facebook in particular now offers instant messaging, so you can also have a quick private chat if there is something you want to communicate to just that person.
Sometimes you just want to speak to someone more in-depth than is possible on a social networking site, but you aren't able or have the time to make a call home. In this case email is really great! You can type something up quick, it's private, and it's much more personal than just posting a comment or update on something like facebook. It's also a more professional way to contact people about work or business contacts, if you are taking your work with you as you travel. Email is also good for people who don't regularly use social networking sites. For instance, the person I contact most when I'm on the road is my mum. She likes a regular update of what I'm doing or she worries, but she isn't exactly Facebook savvy. She can work an email though, so I send her one every two or three days just to let her know how I'm getting on, and in turn she updates the rest of my family and relatives. I can also do this when the time difference would be bad for a call, and she'll just see it when she wakes up.
4. Calling Cards
When internet access is not available, or it may be a bit pricey depending upon where you are, then a calling card is the next best option to contact home. You don't have the personal video or free calls that Skype offers, or the ease of an email, but buying a calling card can provide you with cheap "local rate" calls home when other options are not available. You can then use these at any pay phone, landline, or mobile phone (make sure if you are calling from a mobile that it has a sim card for the country you are calling from or you can still be charged for an international call). Another thing to note is that calling cards are pre-paid, so you usually have to fork out at least £5-10 for one initially, and you should also check on the back of the card to see whether your country is included, otherwise it won't work.
5. Mobile/Cell Phone
Another important factor of staying in touch on the road is keeping in touch with the friends you make along they way. Although sites like facebook and Twitter will do for general chat, if you want to meet up somewhere that day for instance, then having a cheap mobile phone is the best way to keep in contact. You can arrange to meet someone and get an instant reply, rather than sending an email and turning up hoping they've got it in time. Also, if you get lost on the way you can call them and ask for directions. If I know I'm going to be in a country for more than 2 or 3 weeks then I'll buy a cheap sim card for that country. If it's less than a couple weeks I'll use my UK sim card, but only for texts. It usually costs me about 32p to send one international text, although this may vary depending on your country and price plan. It just makes things a whole lot easier when trying to meet up with people and communicate. Alternatively you can now purchase a global sim card, which offers affordable rates in most countries worldwide. Another important factor of having a mobile phone however is safety. I like to know that if the need were ever to arise, then I could call for help.
Staying in touch can be one of the most important aspects of travel. Knowing you can keep in regular contact with people back home can put your mind at ease to head off on that trip you've always been dreaming about. Following the tips mentioned above, you can stay in touch with friends, family, and any travel buddies you meet along the way. More importantly however, you can do so without paying a fortune.
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