Keeping in Touch | Travel Guide
Travel Blog Travel Guide - Beginners Guide to Independent Travel
Planning and Preparation
Keeping in Touch
Email and the Internet have revolutionized the independent traveller's experience, no more late night reverse charge calls, postcards and rambling wish-you-were-here letters, arriving weeks after being sent, if at all. This has been replaced by the near instantaneous delivery of emails from nearly anywhere in the world.
The crucial thing to ensure prior to going is that you have access to a web based email account. Three very big players that offer these are: Hotmail - from Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Gmail from Google - get one of these if you don't have one already - ignore the ridiculous claims of 1Gb - the most important factor is - how many ad's you are bombarded with, and how long the account stays active between subsequent logging in's. Hotmail is one which everyone has heard of - but has historically had a very short length of time before deactivating accounts.
The most economical way of making a phone call is via an international phone card, where you dial an acccess number and an account code, and finally make your call. Be aware at peak times (such as Christmas and New Year) these services can be swamped, so make your calls a few days early to be sure to get through.
Make sure you know the international dialing codes for your home country, and the international dialling code for the country you are in. +44 is the international dialling code for the UK - to dial the UK substitute the + for the international dialing code - typically 00 - and dial this followed by the number - often some digits are dropped from the national number - preceeding 0's.
eg. Australia -> United Kingdom - UK number 01254 322xyz - dial 00 44 1254 322xyz - 00 (international dialling code) 44 (the UK) 1254 (note the dropped 0) 322xyz (the final destination)
Example for US - Germany - US - - To Follow
Many people now take mobile phones on their travels. It's something nice to have, to be able to send back a text message to friends from somewhere exotic, but in the end unless you are planning to stay in a country for a while, it is an extremely expensive way to stay in touch.
TravelTip! - Take an unlocked phone, buy a local SIM card if you are staying for more than a few weeks. (a SIM card is the chip in the card that gives the phone it's number and network, they are usually cheap to buy and often include some money for calls). You should only sign-up to a "pay in advance" or "pay as you go" account.
Text messages/SMS are the cheapest way to stay in touch, sending international text messages is slightly more expensive than national ones.
One other thing to be aware of is that different mobile phone systems exist. If you are planning to go to an area where a different system is in use, you will have to obtain a phone that specifically works with more than one system, known as a TriBand phone, or buy a phone at your destination. Examples of different systems :
N. America: GSM1900/CDMA/TDMA
S. America: GSM1900/CDMA
More information on this: LAN's Travel FAQ
Next: Keeping in Touch (continued)