This week in the United States, a promotion called Wireless World Travel Week is taking place. Spearheaded by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), the initiative is designed to increase awareness for how people can stay connected while travelling abroad.
As someone who is frequently travelling and in constant need of staying connected to family and friends in various parts of the world, I thought that I would include my own tips for staying connected.
First, before you depart for your trip, notify close friends and family at home of your upcoming travels; tell them when you will be away and how often they can expect to hear from you. If you are on a two-week jungle safari, let them know it may be a few weeks before they hear from you. If you are on a work trip, let them know you’ll be connected often. Notify these people of your travel plans in writing with an email or txt, so they retain a permanent record that can be referred to.
Secondly, make a decision on how often you will stay in touch with people at home, and by which method. Email access is available in nearly every corner of the world nowadays, and this is an easy way to remain in contact. VOIP is another good way of course, especially if you want to stay in touch by talking with your contacts. VOIP connections are not always possible, so you may need to make international phone calls. If so, you need to be aware of your native country’s international calling code. (South Africa is 27 – see countrycode.org for a list of all countries)
Regarding your mobile phone, check two very important things before you depart. One, ensure that your phone will in fact work in the country you are visiting. If it will, find out how much it will cost to make and receive calls and text messages. Failure to do this can leave many a traveller disappointed, when they get home and find their mobile bill cost as much as their flight did. You should also compare these mobile rates with using calling cards in your country of arrival. If there is a big discrepancy, calling cards and having your friends call you at your hotel can save you oodles. Lastly, don’t forget your mobile phone charger! I once spent 2 weeks looking for a compatible mobile phone charger in China, a colossal and frustrating waste of time.
Most importantly, remember that staying connected while travelling should be a convenience and not a bind. Don’t over-promise how often you will stay in touch. Enjoying your travels is very often not compatible with being constantly connected to home. Like many things in life, finding the proper balance is the key to an enjoyable experience.