For me, a massive part of the travel appeal is being able to fall off the grid a little. You are completely free, no longer bound by the pressures of a job, personal commitments or financial ties. However, this separation from the ‘real world’ definitely makes it harder to keep in contact. I will admit, I am a bit rubbish when it comes to staying in touch. Despite this, I do realise that communication is important, especially if you are overseas. What happens if there is an earthquake and you need to notify call the army to come and save you?! Not that exceptional doom-filled circumstances are the only reason you would need to stay in touch…
1. Use apps
If you’re a twenty-first century kind of person, this is probably your preferred method for keeping in touch with your loved ones. In the age of social media and now that all phones have cameras, apps are probably the cheapest and easiest way to stay connected. Here are my favourite apps for keeping up with the latest drama back home.
This tends to be the favourite for special occasions where there are a lot of people to speak to. Skype always comes out on Christmases when I’m not home so I am able to catch up with all of the family. Skype seems to be the app favoured by the older generation too, even my grandad was able to get on with it!
The monster of all social networks, Facebook is second to none when it comes to keeping in touch. You not only keep up with who is getting engaged and popping out kids but you can even see what your brother had for breakfast. Facebook is an over-sharers paradise but luckily for you, it means you’re probably not going to miss out on much, even if you are thousands of miles away.
This is probably more applicable to keeping in touch with your friends and siblings as the average user age is a lot younger. I am not a huge fan of Snapchat (I personally feel that I was born about five years too late for that train) but in my opinion, Instagram gives you the best of both worlds. Being able to physically see what your friends are up to and even watch live videos is a very immersive way of staying in touch.
FaceTime is similar to Skype but in my opinion, it’s easier to use on the go. Personally, I find FaceTime much more user-friendly and generally more reliable but be aware that you are limited to who you can contact using it. It is an Apple only app so if you’re not a member of the Apple Club, this is not the one for you.
WeChat (sorry WhatsApp)
Queue unpopular opinion… I hate WhatsApp. Everyone tells me there must be a problem with me as WhatsApp is great. However, I have always found it to be slow and laggy, so much so I actually loathed it enough to delete it from my phone. I instead favour the Chinese equivalent, the app called WeChat. It is similar to WhatsApp but instead runs more efficiently. It also allows you to connect with strangers. Something else I particularly enjoyed is the ease of use of the WeChat voice recorder system. This means you can easily send voice messages back and forth to your friends. It is amazing how close someone feels when you can actually hear their voice!
2. That old snail mail
I am a bit old-fashioned in that I love receiving a letter. I have used the snail mail technique whilst abroad but I must admit that it is not one of my favourite methods of staying in contact. All too often, mail is lost or responses take ages to arrive with you. It is becoming increasingly expensive to send letters from certain countries overseas now too, so generally, I prefer to save my money and use it on important things
like beer, I mean food… Despite these functional flaws, there is something very endearing about receiving a handwritten letter and for those of you that are sentimental, it is a nice physical memento to accompany you on your adventures.
3. Care packages
This is a use of the postal system that I can totally get on board with. What is not to love about receiving a package from home!? I used to adore getting parcels when I lived outside of the UK, especially during my time in China. With so many amazing foods being downright impossible to come by, there was nothing better than cracking into a cheery box full of Pickled Onion Monster Munch or Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. The main downside of care packages is that they are hella expensive to send and can take an age to arrive. Assess the worth based on how much you are missing those homely essentials.
This is the all-encompassing method for the person with so much to say and such little time: start a blog. Your family and friends have the option to sign up for a mailing list and get regular updates from your trip (Sign up to my newsletter for exclusive content) and you only need to do one lot of writing to update everyone on what’s going on. By enabling comments on your most recent posts, you invite conversation and don’t need to worry about messaging individual people. You just put the content out to the masses and whoever cares can get involved. Voila! One disclaimer I will just include here is that whilst blog writing saves a lot of time in comparison to individually emailing ten different people, keeping a serious blog is by no means a small hobby. If you’re anything like me, it will take over your life.
In all honesty, it is easy to forget about the people you have left behind when you’re out and about revelling in your new found freedom. Time differences and life commitments can make keeping in contact difficult, so communication often works better if you arrange mutually convenient times to get together. Out of sight all too often means out of mind so make the effort to bridge the gaps in geography and stay in touch.
What are your favourite ways of staying in touch whilst travelling?
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