The best ways to stay in touch with home while travelling
26th of September, 2019
While many of us welcome a break from our normal daily lives to enjoy a bit of travelling, the thought of completely cutting ties with home can be daunting for some.
Escaping the demands of work and daily chores can be great, but many of us would like to stay in touch with family and friends while we’re on holiday. Life doesn’t get put on pause while we’re away. Birthdays take place, babies are born, and footy games are won.
But staying in the loop while travelling has never been easier or cheaper thanks to today’s technology. Smartphones and computers allow us to stay up to date on the happenings back home and let us share our exciting travel adventures with our loved ones in real time.
Whether you’re taking off for a simple two week holiday or a long gap year, check out these great tips for staying in touch with home while travelling.
Being able to stay connected to family and friends means you’ll never really have to travel alone, and purchasing travel insurance can keep you financially protected should you face any travel disruptions along the way.
Nothing beats hearing the comforting voices of the ones we love most.
The simple voice of a family member or friend can help lift our spirits when we’re feeling lonely while travelling and gives us someone to talk to about all our crazy adventures.
Using your personal mobile with an Australian plan is great for calling home during domestic trips but can prove costly when roaming kicks in during international holidays.
Be sure to turn off your phone’s mobile data and look into purchasing a local SIM card in the country you are visiting to enjoy cheaper calls back home. You will need to make sure your phone is unlocked and will be able to accommodate a SIM with another carrier.
Another option is to use Skype which offers free Skype-to-Skype audio and video calls between its users. Want to call your grandparents who may not have a computer or mobile? Skype also lets you call international landlines for very affordable rates.
Simply put some credit on your Skype account and you’re ready to hear a friendly voice back home.
You’ve Got Mail!
Long gone are the days of writing letters or sending postcards.
While it’s always fun to receive actual handwritten words, for most holidays this isn’t practical anymore. International letters and postcards can take several weeks to arrive, meaning you often arrive home before your mail does.
And there’s no need any more to waste that precious vacation time on searching for the local post office!
Emailing family and friends while you’re away is one of the best ways to stay in touch, though you don’t need to be emailing people daily.
Make things easier by setting up a writing schedule that will let your friends and family know you’re safe without giving them a play-by-play of everything you’re doing each day.
Write one general email with travel updates to send as a mass email that goes to a mailing list of your friends and family. This will allow you to keep in touch with everyone without having to write individual letters.
It’s also a good idea to avoid the automatic reply on your email, as this can alert criminals to the fact you may be away.
If it is necessary to set up an automatic reply for work purposes, be sure to be vague about where you’re travelling and specifics regarding travel dates.
Make use of Apps
Apps are another great way to keep in touch with family and friends while travelling.
Using your smartphone means you can message or video chat with nearly anyone, anytime you want. As nearly all communication apps will require being connected to the internet, be sure to make use of free Wi-Fi in hotels, cafes, or city Wi-Fi hotspots.
Remember to turn off your phone’s mobile data and connect to available free Wi-Fi instead. Of course there are security risks when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. If given the choice between a secured or unsecured network, always choose the secured option.
This will usually require a password or login and will be much less risky than using an unsecured network. Further protect yourself when using a public Wi-Fi network by not accessing your personal bank accounts or websites that require you to input sensitive personal data.
As for the best apps to use to connect with people back home, the top names are Whatsapp, Facetime, Facebook Messenger, Viber Messenger, Skype, and iMessage.
Many apps such as these will allow you to message, speak to, and video chat with friends and family who also downloaded the same apps.
Some of these apps even allow you to enjoy large group chats so you can talk with several family members or friends at the same time even if they are spread all across Australia.
Share your travel photos
While it may be tempting to share your travel photos on social media via Facebook or Instagram, it’s better to not do so while you are travelling.
Much like setting up an auto reply for your email, posting on social media potentially lets criminals know you are away and your home could become a target for theft or vandalism.
A better option for sending travel photos to family and friends is to use Dropbox. Using Dropbox allows you to share images just with the people you want to and it provides you with a generous online storage space for free.
If you do opt for posting photos on social media, be sure to set your profile settings to “private” to limit the amount of eyes that see them. Also be wary about posting questionable content online that could land you in hot water with local authorities.
It can be hard to know all the rules, regulations, and etiquette for different countries. Deciding not to post photos on social media shouldn’t stop you from logging on to view photos posted by family and friends back home.
Seeing familiar faces can be quite comforting while travelling and allows you to see important events you may have missed.
Create a blog
Take things to the next level by creating a travel blog to share your incredible travel adventures.
There are a number of great blog platforms that are free to set up and use, or you may want to create your own domain and possibly turn your travels into a small side business.
Having a blog not only allows your family to stay up to date on your travel experiences through your writings and images, it is also a great way for you to look back on all the destinations you have visited.
A blog is a much less pushy way of sharing your travels with friends and family since they can choose when they wish to see what you’re getting up to.
Creating travel blog articles can also help other travellers that follow your travel blog by providing them with helpful information, advice, and travel inspiration.
Arrange a house sitter
In addition to keeping in touch with family and friends, you may wish to make sure your actual physical home is doing all right as well.
One of the best ways to get updates on your house is to arrange for a house sitter to care for your property while you’re away.
This reduces the chances of your home being burgled or vandalised and a house sitter can help stay on top of things like watering plants, feeding pets, taking out the garbage, and collecting your mail.
Another option for keeping an eye on your house is to install video surveillance cameras that can be monitored via apps. You’ll be able to see what’s going on at your front door or in the kitchen straight from your phone while sipping that latte in Paris.
You can alert authorities if an alarm is triggered or when you notice something suspicious.
The best advice to remember when staying in touch with loved ones back home is to not centre your conversations on your exciting travels.
While it’s forgivable for wanting to share your travel experiences, you don’t want to rub in the fact that you’re enjoying a holiday while your friends and family are back home working. Keep the conversation two-sided and ask how your friend or family member is doing and what they are up to.
Remember to factor in differences in time zones so you don’t end up Facetiming or calling someone at 3AM.
For those you plan to keep in constant contact with, it may be wise to set up a schedule that works for both you and them. This will allow you to both be prepared for a conversation.
It’s always a good idea to let family know that you arrived safely in your chosen destination and to give them an overview of your itinerary in case something should happen.
Because travel can often be unpredictable, don’t set specific times for when you plan to call.
Giving approximate times or days when you plan to call will prevent family and friends from becoming worried should you be slightly delayed in contacting them.