If you are an occasional traveler, you will know that wherever you decide to travel in the world it is always comforting to know that it is easier than ever to connect with friends and family back home.
Relying on only one way to communicate is not the best strategy since one form of communication may not work in all countries.
Having several means of communication means that if one method doesn’t work out for you, you will others to fall back on.
In this article, I wanted to share 5 different ways to help you communicate back home while on your travels.
1. Using your mobile phone
Whenever possible I opt for using my own phone which gives me a couple of handy options:
- Swap your existing SIM card out for a local SIM card
- Use a global roaming package from your current supplier
More often than not it is just cheaper to find a local telco store and purchase a local SIM card with prepaid talk time and data – it’s often very cheap and will allow for cheap international calls back home. The downside to this method is that now you have two SIM cards so you need to keep your primary SIM card in a safe place.
Alternatively, you could opt for sticking with your current telco provider and just use the global roaming option, this has a few key advantages:
- You don’t need to do anything, no purchasing a new SIM card and you can forget about the other options on this list, just set it up and you are on your way.
- People back home can text and call you as if you were still in the same country as them.
The disadvantage is of course the price of using global roaming, especially data, you need to keep an eye on your usage to ensure your phone bill doesn’t blow up.
2. Buying an international calling card
This is my go-to solution when travelling abroad mainly because it keeps everything super simple.
I can use my existing mobile phone or a hotel line and make super cheap international calls back home.
The best thing is that you can find international calling cards anywhere but mostly at supermarkets and newsagents or telco stores.
“The advantage to using an international phone card is that you can use any phone, as long as you are able to call the local access number you can make an international call.” JT, phonecardchoice.com.
The main disadvantage is that you will want to buy a local SIM card as well if you want to use your mobile phone to save on global roaming charges.
3. Downloading calling apps
The internet has given us some great options to help us connect with friends and family back home.
All you need is access to local Wi-Fi and this is free in most places including cafes, restaurants, airports, etc. Once you’ve connected your mobile you can access Google Play and the Apple store to download literally hundreds of different options:
- Calling apps
- Texting apps
- Messaging apps
- Video calling
The disadvantage here is twofold:
- You need to be in an area that has fast, reliable internet.
- Your friends and family back home also need to have fast, reliable internet.
4. Renting a Travel Phone
Not a lot of people know about this option but you can actually rent a travel phone which compared to SIM cards are a lot cheaper since you are not charged for incoming calls and texts.
There are two options available:
- Country specific
- Global travel phones
Most telcos will allow you to organize a travel phone before you depart on your travels where you will have main options either prepaid or pay-per-call.
5. Hotel phones
This is something that I use infrequently but is good to have as a backup option and that is using the landline phone at the hotel that you are staying in.
They do tend to be on the expensive side so it is a good idea to check in with the helpdesk to confirm prices.
This is a rather old-school method that is not commonly used mainly because of mobile phones and the plethora of options available on that medium.
Technology has made communication so much easier and offers so many different options to call back home to family and friends, which include:
Using your mobile phone: when travelling to another country it is super easy to wander into a telco store and pick up a cheap local SIM card and stick it into your mobile, the benefits are free local calls and cheap international calls.
Alternatively, you can set up global roaming before you leave so that you can use your mobile phone right off the plane without the need to do anything else, this also makes it easier for your friends and family to contact you as well, just keep an eye on your talk time since global roaming can be incredibly expensive.
International calling card: this is my absolute favorite method for calling back home. International calling cards can be found everywhere and offer incredibly low calling rates. Keep in mind though that you may also need to purchase a local SIM card.
Calling apps: calling apps are fantastic because they offer you the ability to make free calls (and video calls) back home as well as message, send photos, etc. all you need is a place to get free internet which can be found at the hotel, Airbnb, cafes, restaurants, etc. This is a good option if both you and the person you are talking with have fast and reliable internet.
Travel phone: before you set off on your travels, why not rent a travel phone from your telco provider? These tend to be cheaper than setting up global roaming and allow you to communicate with people as soon as you step off the plane.
Hotel phones: a good option to have if you are unable to secure a local SIM, international calling card or haven’t set up global roaming. Tend to be expensive, so is recommended as a last resort.