Americans love to travel. According to U.S. Travel, an association for the travel industry, they made more than 460 million overnight trips with hotel stays in 2012 for business. The number of leisure trips for the same year is even more staggering. Approximately 1.6 billion trips by U.S. citizens were for pleasure. Regardless of why or how far you travel, here are seven ways to stay connected while you do it.
7. Place a Phone Call
With global mobile penetration seeing a sharp increase in recent years, it’s easier than ever to rely on your cell phone to stay connected. When traveling overseas, make sure your phone is compatible with a mobile communication system in the country you’re visiting. It’s possible your phone may need a new SIM card. Despite these considerations, it’s possible to use your phone in many corners of the world. However, be prepared for rather large fees, even if you pre-pay for your overseas minutes.
6. Communicate Through Skype
Skype is a game-changer when it comes to making cheap phone calls. Download the Skype app for iOS and Android before you hit the road or skies. When you find a WiFi hot spot at your destination, connect to Skype. You can then chat and text at a rate that’s typically much lower than using your cellular phone service. Avoid using Skype when you’re not connected through WiFi, or you’ll find yourself paying for the Skype services plus roaming charges.
5. Install MagicJack Plus
This hardware lets you make free phone calls to most places in North America from almost anywhere in the world. You can use it with or without a computer. There is a yearly fee, but once you pay that, there’s no charge for phoning home. In addition, this device lets you have a U.S. or Canadian phone number, even if you’re overseas. This means loved ones in North American can call with paying, at most, domestic long distance fees from their landline, or no fees with their mobile phone.
4. Hook up to Satellite Internet
When you travel in the U.S. to remote areas where there’s no DSL or cable for connecting to the Internet, satellite technology can help you get online. Check out satellite Internet reviews before heading out of town to determine which provider gives the best and fastest service. Set up an account ahead of time so you’re ready to get online once you’re in an isolated spot. Expect speeds similar to DSL in areas where dial-up was the primary way to connect to civilization via the Internet. This technology proves its worth when you’re outside the reach of high-speed access but want to connect with family and friends through the web.
3. Discover WhatsApp
Avoid paying to send a text message by chatting with WhatsApp, which is available for most smartphones. The data package you have covers the service for accessing WhatsApp. As with Skype, if you’re traveling overseas, it’s best to access this app while connected through a WiFi hot spot. What makes this app so cool is its ability to let you send short voice messages. As with traditional SMS, WhatsApp lets you also send photos.
2. Do the Tango
Place international calls to other Tango users for free. The key with this app for iOS and Android is to download it yourself and have your contacts download it ahead of your trip.
1. Buy Time at an Internet Café
Image via Flickr by shinyai
Most countries have Internet cafés where you can buy an amount of time to surf the web. At the very least, you can send and read email, and read up on the latest world news. Remember that search engines such as Google may be set to the local language, making it a bit challenging to find your way around.
Keep in mind prices vary widely depending on the country and city you’re visiting. However, as a last ditch option, Internet cafés have a lot to offer anyone who needs to stay in touch while traveling.
No matter where you go in the world, you’re likely to have at least one option for contacting your home base. What are some of the ways you’ve used technology to keep in touch while you travel?