And by essentials I mean they’re completely optional. We all travel differently and have varying expectations and goals for our excursions. Some of us have embraced technology and the age of social media and [over] sharing and others like to keep things decidedly simple, or at least as simple as travel. However, for those who have embraced technology and are looking for ways to keep in touch with home, there are several ways to go about doing just that. In fact, there are five major ways you, the social traveler, can maintain communication with home and the world.
A Travel Blog
While a travel blog is certainly not for everyone, it’s a fun and engaging way to keep family, friends, and—if you have any—internet followers. Blogs are a great alternative to journals because, not only can other people read them (which may cause you to hold back certain, ahem, “details”) but you can also incorporate pictures into your posts creating a highly visual experience allowing your readers to follow you on your journey. Of course, if writing isn’t something you want to put time into, you could make it strictly a photo blog. The problem with blogging, as highlighted in the last sentence, it the time requirement, you have to write and keep it up, otherwise there really isn’t a point.
The time investment of keeping a social media presence is less than keeping a travel blog, but it still can be fairly intensive, depending on how much you actually want to put into it. You can keep a low or a high profile, choosing whether or not you engage people. You can effectively use some social media sites in place of a blog, or you can offer mini updates through a site such as Twitter, or update a photostream on Flickr.
World Cell Phone
If you still want to be able to call home, having a cell phone capable of dialing internationally is a must. US travelers may need to check with their phone provider to see if their phone will work internationally. If it doesn’t, you can take the necessary steps to render the phone capable of international calls (which, depending on the phone may require unlocking and a new SIM card) or you can purchase a new phone at your destination, which is generally an inexpensive route to go.
If you do decide to pick up a new phone, you may need to pick up an international calling card to keep service charges and fees in control, since fees to call to various international destinations vary wildly, usually toward the ridiculously expense end of the cost spectrum. Like cell phone plans, calling cards come in a variety denominations and it’s usually best to pick up smaller denominations to avoid wasting money and minutes you may never use, depending on your calling habits.
When you have regular internet access, using a phone, either cellular or landline, might not even be necessary with all the voice-over internet protocol (VOIP) services out there. You can maintain contact, either voice or visual/voice, and it’s a great way to keep in contact for cheap, but at the same time you will need a stable and fairly decent internet connection.
About the Author: Andrei Milosevic is an international student, traveler, and writer. Over the past few years, he has been studying international business and providing advice and insight into making international calls. In his free time he kayaks and Skypes with his best friend back home in Serbia.