How to communicate with friends or family while travelling? If we now have the experience as we’ve been living in Australia for many years now (originally from France), we found out it was good to do a small post about the different ways to keep in touch even if you are far away! Mobile, Skype, Whatsapp, Viber…quick list ot different ways to stay connected!
The modern technique, using smartphones or laptops
What are the different apps? Install them on your smartphone (that you previously unlocked in order to be able to integrate local chip if any urgency/need) and give calls or send messages, photos and videos to all your friends!
- Skype. It is the option number 1 when you are abroad and if you want to reach friend stayed at home! First thing, or you can connect to your skype account either on your phone or your laptop and you can call another skype account easily. And you can benefit from the camera to see each other. Note that a discussion can be held between several persons as long as they have a skype account. Of course it is free! Second solution is to use your Skype account to call landline phones and mobile phones even if the person you are not calling is not connected to its skype account. Unlike the first solution, it is paying but you are able to reload your skype credit very easily online. Note that it is more expensive when you call a mobile rather than when you call a landline phone. Anyways, these two solutions whenever you are abroad and you have access to internet and your skype account, whether on your laptop or on your smartphone.
- Whatsapp: You can also call with Whatsapp, send pictures or videos to someone else who has also downloaded the Whatsapp app on his smartphone. Very convenient and free, but again, you have to be connected on internet (wifi or 4G, but be careful to roaming fees then when you are abroad!)
- Viber: Similar to Whatsapp, Viber is a good application available on iphones.
You can use these sevices as long as you are connected to internet (wifi or 4G). However, in the countries you will visit, you will see that web is still developing very quickly everywhere, so we are more connected every year!
Compulsory connexion in this dynamic world!
- In the “rich” countries, Europe, North America or Oceania, most of people have internet at home, so finding a cybercafe can be very complicated. Some convenient stores can have computers, particularly in Australia, New-Zealand, Japan but check the prices. Public free wifis are developing everywhere, restaurants, cafes, parcs so keep informed! And of course, you can find some in backpackers hotels which let customers use their computers available to their customers
- In the “not so rich” countries, very classic to go during world trips, like South-Est Asia or Latin America, it not a problem either as most of the hotels have wifi for their customers and it is relatively easy to find cybercafes.
- And in some “remote” islands, particularly in Oceania, like Fijis, Vanuatu, New-Caledonia…you can forget in some islands! And that is awesome! That’s exactly what people are looking for when they choose to go to these remote Pacific islands, to be disconnected from the world, the feeling to be far from the world and the XXIth century innovations. Of course, if you don’t plan to connect to Internet for some time, just tell you family/friends before you won’t be able to be reached!
- Lastly in Africa, Internet is expanding very fast but in a unequal way. It is mainly happening in very big cities but out of them, it can be a challenge to find a cybercafe.
- The public wifi is mostly in “rich” countries, not so much in other countries.
The classic technique, calling with a mobile
Different ways to call with a local phone. Of course you can also use your own mobile, but think about unlocking it in your home country before leaving. Indeed, many mobiles are locked with the original operator. Unlock it and use with every chip!
- So you can unlock it after the compulsory period of subscription you have with your local operator. Indeed, the operator may ask you to wait a certain time before being able to unlock your sim card. After that, just go to a specialized store.
- You can also do it if you are not linked to any operator.
- Finally, you can also unlock your sim card with specialized shops which can do that for very easily, just get informed, not too complicated!
So, your mobile is ready to call, you can call anytime, anywhere!
- First you can take a local chip and you call. Easy and simple. Very convenient to keep in touch with everyone and the friends you just met. It is not too complicated to find a local chip with prepaid options included already, which will give you the amount of minutes you can talk or the Go you can have when you go online, until the credit expires. In each and every country (like Optus in Australia), very easy, it has the huge advantage of being convenient and without any commitment. And it may be possible to call to your home country, even if the chip is a “foreign” chip. Anyway, it will always be cheaper than with your usual home chip…Open your eyes! Usually a good and not expensive solution, flexible, so you can have quiet holidays if you stay for sometime in the country you visit (particularly the case for working holiday visa holders for example).
- You can keep you home chip as in certain cases, the subscription can be very cheap, which will allow you to receive text messages for example. Some begin around €2 per month. And being able to receive text messages is very important when you buy some expensive products abroad as it is a way for the bank to check your identity and avoid scams. So that is almost the only particular case in which you could consider keep and use you home country mobile and subscription while you are in a world trip. Because don’t try call your family/friends at home (except urgency of course) as call fees and roaming fees will go through the roof (except in European Union). It is not the best solution, better talk to your bank about this specific case, doing an important purchase while you are abroad so that they can find a solution for you.
- So, you can choose to keep the chip you got before leaving for your trip if you need to validate important purchases you make abroad, as they often require to be confirmed by sms (asked by the bank for security reasons, you will receive a code by text message you will enter in the website to confirm your purchase). So either you keep this chip to confirm, or you tell your bank you will travel abroad for a long period and check with them what is the best solution in this specific case.
The archaic technique, calling with a landline phone
Not really archaic but to be used if you can’t have anything else! Phone booths almost do not exist anymore, but there are still some in a few countries, and they can really help you!
- If you give local calls (to reach friends, reconnect with people you met a few days ago…), phone booth work with prepaid cards you can find in convenience stores.
- For international calls, here again, the prepaid cards are useful to be used in phone booths, you usually call a specific number then you select the pin code written on the back of the card and you can call whoever you want, as long as there is credit on this card. It is a good solution if you don’t have any other option and they can be found in convenience stores. Fees may vary depending of the geographical zones.