The best ways to stay in touch with friends and family when travelling abroad
22 Feb 2018
Being away from home can be hard. Whether you’re on holiday, taking a gap year or have moved abroad permanently, sometimes all you need is to chat with your friends or family back home. And thanks to the internet, staying in touch is now easier than ever.
From messaging and photo sharing, to video and audio calls - there are plenty of great apps and services that can help you combat homesickness and keep in contact with your loved ones overseas.
WhatsApp is the king of mobile messaging and now boasts more than 700 million users worldwide. WhatsApp gives you the ability to message anyone else who has the app, regardless of their location, for free. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection or mobile data. One of the apps’s niftiest features is the ability to see when your messages are delivered, if they’ve been read and the last time the recipient was online. WhatsApp’s group chat function lets you invite your whole family or friendship circle to the same chat so you don’t have to type the same messages over and over.
You can also place voice and video calls through WhatsApp. This is great for those times when messaging just isn’t enough. And if you don’t have time to make a call, you can send a short (on long) voice message. This means your loved ones can play your ‘I miss you’ voice note as many times as they like.
international phone calls
Making international phone calls can be incredibly expensive and it’s hard to know how much money you’re burning through until that dreaded phone bill arrives.
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This list would not be complete without Skype. As one of the most popular video chatting apps, Skype has become a household name. Skype gives you the ability to connect face-to-face with your loved ones for free. And its simple setup makes it easy to connect with even the least tech-savvy family members.
Skype can accommodate groups chats of up to 25 people which makes it perfect for families that are spread out around the globe.
One of the best features of Skype is that you have the ability to call a mobile or landline from your account, even if you don’t have a SIM. This is great for all those travellers out there who have turned their data roaming off but need to call a phone rather than wait for their loved ones to come online. While you have to pay for these calls, the international rates are very affordable.
Facebook Messenger’s ability to message, call (voice and video) and send files makes it incredibly versatile. And it’s all free! Staying in touch with friends whom you don’t have contact information for is very easy thanks to Facebook Messenger. Once in the app all you need to do is type their name in the search bar and click call – what could be easier?
If you’re an Apple user, FaceTime is for you. Just like making a call on your phone, FaceTime lets you search through your contacts and either voice or video call them (as long as you are both connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data). This a great way to stay in touch with parents or family members who haven’t installed any of the other video apps and as long as you are both connected to Wi-Fi, won't cost a thing!