Whether you are heading out on road trips with kids in tow, or you are considering backpacking by yourself, remember the importance of being connected. You might have heard your parents tell stories about when they backpacked in the 1970s, and all they had to keep in contact with everybody were postcards. The internet has made everything so much easier, but it’s important to understand the best ways to keep connected during your travels so you can ensure that everybody back home knows you are alright, but also know the little tricks to make keeping in contact easier. Let’s show you some approaches.
Jump Ahead To
Local SIM Cards
If you are globetrotting from place to place, the best approach is to have an unlocked mobile phone. An unlocked mobile phone means that you haven’t got a plan and therefore, no contract. You might be able to find a cell phone stall in your local market that could do it for you. If you cannot get your phone unlocked, you can purchase a cheap one online. The important thing to remember is that you only need it for the basics.
When you have an unlocked phone, you can get local SIM cards. There will be times when you may need more data and therefore having a portable dongle or a router can help, especially if you are in a place with incredibly slow Wi-Fi. You can easily get a data-only SIM for 4g router devices for cheap, but there are a wide variety of options. If you’re traveling around Europe, you can pick up a single SIM card and use it throughout your travels, as long as it’s within Europe. This means you could go from Germany to Croatia or Spain using the same SIM card. Make sure it has a good data package so you can make local calls or go online.
Find Local Wi-Fi
Of course, one of the best approaches to be in contact with everybody back home is to connect to local Wi-Fi. Most places usually have half-decent Wi-Fi that makes things a lot easier, but if you have an unlimited plan on your SIM, you won’t need to worry about this. When it comes to finding local Wi-Fi you’ve got to tread carefully, especially if it is a public Wi-Fi network.
When you are going around big cities, you can find a variety of Wi-Fi spots; you can venture into any McDonald’s or cafe and you’ll be able to connect to their Wi-Fi. The problem is that so many other people are doing the same thing. Therefore, when it comes to using the internet, you’ve got to think twice about the types of things you are doing over an unsecured network. When you are making payments online, and you are transferring sensitive information like credit card details, you might want to think twice about using public Wi-Fi, in case there are people waiting to steal your information.
When you are out traveling and you get hacked, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to solve these problems. When in doubt, you should ask your hostel or hotel if they have a private Wi-Fi network. A lot of hotels have an exclusive Wi-Fi network reserved for business people, so when it comes to making those payments and transactions, you can’t be too careful, and you should never use local Wi-Fi for this very reason.
Get Set Up on Skype
If you do not have an Apple device Skype is great for keeping in contact with loved ones if we are traveling all over the place. You can use local SIM cards, but third-party apps like Skype can always make the process even easier. When it comes to getting set up on Skype, it’s easy to do.
Before you head on vacation, set up an account and prepay it with $10, which should last you your entire trip. If you find yourself in an emergency, Skype is a very easy way to get in contact with family or friends back home. Making sure you have everything set up before you go is going to ensure that if there are any problems, you can be connected and can easily get to the people that you care about.
Use Messaging Apps
Some people still use SMS messages, but these can be costly, so you can use a lot of messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger to get through to people. You can use Skype, but if you use WhatsApp, which is uniquely encrypted, you can connect to a local Wi-Fi and use it to your heart’s content! When you are out and about, you can get unlimited SIM cards that will ensure you can stream calls on your phone.
Have a Book of Important Information
A little personal organizer is something that we don’t necessarily consider to be essential in this day and age. After all, if we’re taking our phone and a laptop or a tablet, this is usually enough to have information stored. However, we can’t completely rely on our devices. If you end up losing or breaking your mobile phone, at the very least, you should have a list of emergency contact numbers on you.
When you go to another country, you can register with your department of foreign affairs; this is a very simple thing, but it can be vital in an emergency. When you register your whereabouts with the country’s embassy or consulate, it is an extra thing that can give loved ones back home peace of mind. It’s such a simple thing, but if you have a personal organizer with emergency phone numbers, insurance details, and the contact number of your embassy written out, at least if you find yourself in heaps of trouble, you can get in contact to provide your whereabouts with the embassy or the people you love.
Don’t Forget the Simple Ways To Keep in Contact
When you are traveling with your family and you want to let relatives back home know how you are, as easy as it is to have a phone call, there are still older relatives that want postcards! The great thing is that these days, you don’t have to go and find a postcard from a local place, however, while this may add some of that local charm, there’re plenty of postcard services online that you can use.
But we have got to remember that we can spend a lot of our time traveling with our phones attached to our retinas. Instead, you might want to think about getting the kids to write on postcards so they can let their grandparents know how they are doing. It’s something that you can all do as a family.
When people used to travel a long time ago it was a phone call every few weeks, and while we can easily do a video call, sometimes we have family members that don’t necessarily understand technology, so a phone call to the house line can bypass a few of these issues. It’s also a very old-school and nostalgic way to keep people informed.
Being connected while you are traveling is a very easy thing to do these days, but you’ve got to make sure that you are prepared; rather than thinking that everything is easily done, there are always going to be problems with Wi-Fi. You also need to remember that not everywhere is connected to the internet! Rather than wondering what you are going to do if you run out of signal, think about some of the more practical things that make life easier.