Due to the progress of techonology, internet has brought us many advantages and become simpler to communicate inexpensively with anyone in any part of the world. Certainly, it is lucky and useful for travelers and expats living abroad. This article will share you seven main ways of keeping in touch with family and friends at home while traveling abroad.
In the 1970s my only method of reaching my wife in Florida from India was by telephone. Just getting the connections set up between the two countries could take hours. By the early 1990s it was easier to make international connections but still slow and inconvenient. I still use landlines and cell phones but making international calls with either is not the best use of your time and money. So how do I communicate with home while abroad?
Cards and letters. This is the only method I presently use that does not in some way depend on the internet. I still find that friends and relatives get a kick out of receiving a picture postcard from overseas. The underdeveloped nature of the postal system or even the lack of one in some countries limits this method.
Email. Ten years ago having email was less common. Today it is rare to find anyone without email. Almost everyone today not only has email but checks it at least once a day. If your message does not require an immediate response, email is a good means of communication.
Internet VOIP Services. VOIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol is most commonly known as internet telephone service. I know of at least a dozen providers. My favorites in the last few years have been MagicJack and Vonage. Both provide a “back home” telephone number which allows you to make internet calls to family members as if the calls were local calls. Skype in some cases is cheaper, but only when making calls to other Skype members.
AIM, Yahoo, & MSN Online Instant Messaging. Each of these can be used when your established friends and relatives are online. The messages are instantaneous but has the limitation of only having the capability of messaging while both parties are online. These message systems are particularly appealing to the youth of today, and many adults are being converted to their use.
Facebook & Other Social Network Sites. You can also instant message with Facebook and some people do. But Facebook’s advantage over Yahoo & similar sites is that you can leave comments or messages that can be responded to at a later time. Posting regularly on Facebook can give your friends a running account of your activities at any frequency you desire.
Online Diaries Or Blogs. The terms are not mutually exclusive. Any blog can be used as an online diary. There are however specific online diary services designed specifically for the traveler. By simply giving your friends the URLS of these diaries or blogs, they can keep up with your activities.
Family Websites. The free Google Apps, for example is designed for families or organizations and provides a customized gmail account specific to your domain name. However, unless you get the paid premier edition (still a bargain at $ 50/year), you are limited to only 50 user accounts. I have one, but have to admit that I have only used it very infrequently.
Keeping in touch with home once meant writing a diary or letter and having it sent by ship or air in a process that could take weeks or even months. Today, instantaneous communication is not only possible but with the internet, has become the norm. Being able to communicate with family and friends daily if desired makes traveling or even living abroad much more enjoyable.
Dr. Lamar Ross, a cultural anthropologist by training, has a special interest in training individuals for expatriate living and providing information on unique travel destinations. He is an author, educator, photographer, internet entrepreneur, and international traveler. He has lived in the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and India and has traveled extensively in 29 different countries. His pensionado visa for Panama has been approved and he will be spending more time in Panama in the near future. For more information on expatriate living, check out the blog Expatriate Traveler Notes. Check out also his Everything Travel Blog.
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