It’s easier than ever to stay connected while traveling or working abroad. When you travel with a phone, tablet, or laptop, there are apps and software that allow you to stay in touch with home. If you’re travelling somewhere extremely remote, extra planning might be necessary. But for a typical holiday or work trip, staying in contact with friends, family, and colleagues is relatively simple and affordable. Here are some of the easiest ways to stay connected when you go abroad, including our preferred way to stay connected:
1. Connect to WiFi to keep costs down
Almost every hostel, hotel, and Airbnb offers free WiFi. So buying an international data plan isn’t always necessary, especially if you’re travelling on a budget. When you check into your accommodation, you’ll usually be given the WiFi details to connect your device. But if a reliable internet connection is important to you, it’s best to confirm this with the hotel before you book.
It’s also worth considering that some countries have better internet speeds than others. South Korea, for example, is the world’s number one in terms of fastest download speeds. Eastern European countries, including Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Latvia, are also known for their impressive download speeds. But if you’re travelling to a more remote or developing country, be prepared for an unreliable Internet connection and much slower speeds.
2. Send Messages via Whatsapp
WhatsApp is a free to download messenger app for smartphones. It allows you to send messages, photos, videos, and links over the internet to other WhatsApp users. You can also make free phone calls within the app. Whether you sign up for an international data plan or connect to WiFi while you travel, using WhatsApp will help you stay connected for free. Whatsapp is widely used internationally, so if you planning to meet people while you are traveling, chances are your new friends, no matter where they are from, are using WhatsApp too.
3. Make Calls with Skype
Skype is a software that allows you to make video calls, voice calls, and group calls to other Skype users. You can use Skype in any country in the world, just as long as you have an internet connection. The software is free to download, quick to set up, and can be used on a phone, laptop, or a tablet. There’s also an option to pay a subscription fee for extra functions, like making calls to phones or SMS.
4. Buy a SIM card
If you have an unlocked phone and are abroad for a significant amount of time, it’s often worth buying a local SIM card with a data allowance. This is the option we prefer the most, even when we are only traveling for a week. It allows you to stay connected all the time (not just in wifi spots) which can be useful if you are looking things up on the internet as you tour the city, and or you want to stay easily accessible to family or work contacts at home. It is also particularly useful if you’re planning to make lots of calls abroad. A local SIM card is more reliable than relying on Wifi and more cost-effective than making calls on your home plan. You’ll typically find SIM cards in convenience stores and phone stores around the world. But before you travel, chat with your phone provider to make sure your phone is unlocked.
5. Video Chat on FaceTime
FaceTime is another video chat app, but just for people with Apple products. The app only works if both you and the person you want to speak to are using an iPhone, iPad, iTouch, or Mac computer. FaceTime is a great way to stay connected while traveling and you can download the app from the Apple store.
6. Global Hotspot
If you’re working while traveling and need to regularly check emails and send files, unreliable internet can be a major source of stress. Global hotspots are portable devices that allow you connect to WiFi wherever you are in the world. You can subscribe to a plan with your chosen cellular provider or pay for day passes. It’s a more expensive option but the connection is reliable. It’s also an area where new companies are often popping up, giving you the option of hotspot not associated with your cellular carrier. Skyroam is one example. A global hotspot is also more secure than using public networks and WiFi in cafés.
Stay Connected While Traveling
So, no more desperately trying to find a public phone to call home when you travel. There are lots of ways to stay connected now and most of them are free and easy to use. Whether you’re working abroad or traveling for pleasure, it’s never been easier to stay connected while traveling with the people.