Communication When On Your Trip Keeping In Touch
Communication back home can be tricky and often times very expensive. In many cases, you aren’t going to be aware of what the situation is like where you are going. Sometimes you may show up only to realize that it’s a lot more expensive than you had previously anticipated. Sometimes you will show up and realize that internet access is going to be scarcer than you had thought. Communication When On Your Trip Whatever your situation may be, and regardless of how much information you already have, you should take as many steps toward preparation as possible.
- Get as much information as possible. We have kind of already touched on this, but it’s important. If you know someone there or who has been where you are going, ask them what the phone situation is like. Ask them about access to internet cafes and a steady supply of electricity. The more that you know the more that you can prepare yourself and your family for the abrupt decrease in communication.
- Set up a Skype account. Skype is a great way to chat with friends and family back home. I even set up an account for my parents before strapping on my backpack and taking off into the sunset. As long as the other party has a Skype account, it’s free to talk. In desperate situations, I will even use Skype to make phone calls. You can put a minimum of $10 credit onto your account and make phone calls to anywhere in the world. Just be wary of the low costs Skype advertises. They lead you to believe it is one flat rate like 2 cents per minute, but rates do vary from country to country and fluctuate based on the time of the call.
- Keep connected via social media. I was anti Facebook, right up until I started traveling. Facebook is not only the most practical and economical way to let your family know that your heart is still beating, it’s also a great way to keep in touch with new friends that you encounter during your travels. I have friends in over a dozen different countries on Facebook, each of them a resource that I may very well need one day.
- Set up a Google voice account. If you are keeping your home based phone connected, this can be linked to your home phone so that you can check your voicemail overseas-for free! It is also an alternative to Skype for making phone calls back home.
- Consider an international phone. Some are more practical than others and it often times depends on your country. In Kenya it is mere pennies to call back to the states. In Peru it cannot be done from my basic cellular and calls back to the states cost a fortune regardless of if I am using Skype, Google Voice, or a phone booth. In Europe, it’s a fortune in general when operating under the depreciating value of the dollar. I try to steer clear of ever making international phone calls, but I do like having the option and I purchase sim cards whenever possible.
- Blog about it. For me, my objective is to always let my family know that I haven’t been eaten by feral dogs, kidnapped, crushed in an earthquake or driven into the hills by a plague. It’s even better if I am able to let them know that I am happy. As much as I would love to talk to everyone with diligent regularity, it isn’t possible. Most backpackers that I know blog about their experiences and then share the links on Facebook. It’s a great way of keeping everyone up to speed. It’s also nice to be able to dismiss complaints such as, “I never hear from you!” or “Gosh, I have no idea what you have been doing for the last few months!” Blogging covers your bases.
- Email the important people. Create a list serve before leaving. You can’t put everything on your blog. That would be poor internet etiquette. For the more personal updates, have a list serve. Try to do this at least once every couple of weeks so that the important people in your life feel like you remember them. It’s also going to reassure them that your newfound happiness isn’t just a front presented to the masses on your blog.
That covers the main forms of communication and gives you many options, thus taking into account that situations vary from country to country. It also gives your steps that you can take to prepare yourself for communication withdrawal.
I do have one more bit of advice. It has to do with not setting people up to be overly concerned about you or lining them up for disappointment. The bottom line is that unless you are very informed on the technological situation where you are going, you shouldn’t make promises that you aren’t %100 certain you can keep. Your mother doesn’t need the stress of wondering why you only sent her one email last week when you promised two. Your best friend doesn’t need to be worrying because you only updated your Facebook status twice this week when you promised daily.
Promise that you will do the best that you can, and do it. Don’t make unrealistic goals that will only turn into obstacles later down the road. One of the best things about traveling is seeing the world outside of home. So cut that umbilical cord and pry your prematurely arthritic fingers from the keyboard.
(This article was created with the assistance of Tina Stelling, Her Website is www.tinastelling.com I welcome you all to check it out.)
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