Staying in Touch: Keeping Connected
You are a long way from home, you’ve been on the road now for a while, it’s the holidays and you miss the familiarity of home, family, and friends. It’s ok to admit it, but what are you going to do about it? There are plenty of ways to stay in touch while you are on your career break. I was lucky enough to never really get homesick, but I also was lucky enough to always be connected to my friends and family even though I was frequently in remote countries and areas.
I had a large email list of friends and family that I created before I left and constantly added to it. I periodically sent out updates on my where-abouts and latest adventures – an easy way to stay in touch a lot of people at once. Plus, don’t be too proud to beg for emails, I frequently asked people to write me so that it would feel as if I were more connected to ‘home’.
The obvious question you may be wondering, though, is how accessible is email while you are traveling. I found that even in the most remote areas of Egypt, Tanzania, Laos, and Borneo there were internet cafes. Granted, just because there is an internet café, that doesn’t mean that it is good equipment or a good connection. Many internet cafes were the cemeteries of pc’s I had used back in 1992! You wonder where that old IBM 386SX went? No doubt it’s in a dodgy internet café in Egypt or India.
You can normally check your email with some success, as long as you have a lot of patience and there isn’t a power cut. Downloading video or uploading photos is another thing; these processes can take excruciatingly long and sometimes you have to try it in another location.
There are a ton of free travel blogging solutions out there. Blogs are a great way to stay in touch because you only have to update your stories and photos once and anyone can go out and see what great travel adventure you’ve been on lately! Plus, it’s a great way to document your travel adventures as you go. It will be memories that last forever. Some blogs even allow you to download your entire blog and pictures and make a book out of it.
I used a BootsnAll travel blog. It was free to use and more than adequate for my uses. There are many different kinds of travel blogs out there – you just need to find one whose layout and features you like and get started!
Here is a short list of some other blogging options worth checking out:
Internet Phone Calls:
My preferred way of keeping in touch is with Skype. No, that’s not a typo – that’s the future. Skype’s popularity has made it into our mainstream vocabulary now, I often find myself saying “Let’s Skype tomorrow.” Or “I tried Skyping you, but you didn’t answer!” Skype lets you make free calls over the internet to anyone else who also has the service. It’s a free, easy to download software application.
Internet cafes always have it loaded on their computers so you can expect to be able to use it anywhere. You can make free calls to people with the service, or simply open an account with $10 via credit card and then you can call land lines and cell phones around the world for about 2 cents a minute – a bargain! The call quality is good and it also has a simple chat feature and the ability to do video calling.
There are many applications like this in the market these days. The Indie Travel Podcast did a great show on this recently with a lot of great information about the choices out there in the world of Internet calling.
I didn’t always travel alone. Instead I gave my friends my itinerary and said “come meet me on the road!” I was surprised at how many people took me up on this offer. I had many friends and family use their 2 weeks of vacation to travel halfway around the world and travel with me for a few weeks. This was my favorite way to stay in touch as nothing beats face to face contact. You may be surprised at who will drop everything and come see you, but you’ll never know until you ask!
Finally, don’t forget to grab English newspapers and magazines whenever you can. Most larger cities have international versions of Time or Newsweek that helped me keep informed on world news when I felt like it. Also if you are carrying your iPod and can synch it, I highly recommend downloading news podcasts. I stayed in touch with NYC by downloading the daily NY Times Front Page podcast.
So – even though you may feel alone out there, you aren’t! Home is only a quick internet café away!
We’d love to hear from you:
How do you stay in touch with friends and family while on the road? Share here.