Whether you are taking a weekend holiday or traveling for several years staying in touch with family and friends is important. Social media has made it incredibly easy for any traveler with a smartphone to provide multiple updates on his/her daily activities, but what if you want to keep up with others on a more personal level?
For us, we require different levels of communication to keep up with all aspects of our travels. For friends and family, we need a more personal form of communication, while for the blog we need to keep updated in a more professional manner.
Here is a list of our favorite Apps/Programs and how we use each one:
WhatsApp – WhatsApp could not be any easier to use. We first learned of WhatsApp from our Rwandan friends. It has served us well in keeping in touch with our friends outside the US. Now that we are traveling we use it religiously to remain in contact with friends all over the world; including the U.S. Phone data service or the Internet is required to use WhatsApp. Get WhatsApp here.
Google Voice – We both decided to keep our cell phone numbers while traveling. Because we would be changing countries often, we thought it would be complicated and tiresome to continually update all our accounts with new local numbers. Although, we are paying for basic monthly service, it gives us peace of mind to have a local number. Especially for our credit cards, traveling insurance, banks, etc. to get in touch with us in case of emergencies. The best feature of Google Voice is the transcription of all voice mails into a text message. GV also allows for any of our US friends to text us at any time, and we can text right back – just as if we were still in the US. Get Google Voice here. *A U.S. phone number is required for use.
Skype – When we need that direct and visual interaction we use Skype. We could use Facetime for some friends, but we have a good mix of iPhone and Android users in our network. Skype is one of the most widely available communication tools available being on Android phones and tablets, iPad, iPhone, Linux, Mac, PC, Playstation, Windows phones and Tablets & X-Box. Get Skype here.
Facebook/Instagram – We do our best to provide daily photo updates of our activities onto both Facebook and Instagram. Currently, we are posting the same update to both, but I think we will be mixing that up soon to share more photos. Get Facebook here and Instagram here.
Messenger/Email – We have a few friends and family members who do not have smartphones, and the only way to keep in touch is through emails. Also, for blog business email is our first official form of connecting.
Sim Card– In the past, we have relied on purchasing a local sim card to provide data service while we are out and about. In Rwanda we did not buy a sim card because my iPhone 6 would not allow tethering, Matt’s Samsung Note 4 was stolen, so we decided to get a USB modem instead. Not sure we will go this route again, but for now it has worked fine but not great.
Phone Calls – For those areas where we can’t find the internet and/or the electricity is limited we rely on good old fashion phone calls. We have a cheap, reliable traveling phone that we use for local calls & texting. It also comes in handy when we are in places we either don’t purchase a sim card or don’t feel safe pulling out our smartphones.
Don’t have a smartphone or computer? Don’t fret! Most countries have small cheap phones for purchase. Another option is using internet cafes for computer time. Pay as you need.
If all else fails, remember snail mail? As much as we all seem to depend on technology these days it’s a lovely surprise to receive a handwritten letter or postcard in the mail. By the way, there is an app to turn your photos into postcards