Most travellers these days bring electronics—smartphones, tablets and laptops. With Wi-Fi available practically everywhere, keeping in touch with friends and family is easy. Simply log onto a network, open an app and message away.
In most cases, social media will suffice. Using apps like Facebook and Instagram, you can write to people back home and post your favourite videos or photos. That said, depending on with whom you wish to speak, social media might not always be an option. So here are a few alternatives.
Skype allows you to make face-to-face video calls with up to 25 people simultaneously. On premium plans, you can use the app to call mobiles and landlines, avoiding hefty long-distance rates through your mobile carrier.
Much like Skype, Google Hangouts is an SMS, MMS and audio/video calling app. It synchronizes with your Gmail, making it convenient for those checking their email on-the-go. Google Hangouts also has multiparty functionality available.
ZoIPER is a free softphone for iOS and Android. A softphone connects to a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) service and allows you to make international calls at a cheap rate. Through your VoIP provider, you get your own local phone number for anyone to call. Many VoIP solutions offer other value-added features like call queuing and voice menus.
WhatsApp is the most popular cross-platform mobile messaging app. It doesn’t use SMS so you have texting functionality without incurring carrier fees. In addition to texting, you can send photos, videos, audio notes and more.
Foursquare is a “check-in” app where you pin places that you’ve visited (i.e. restaurants). HerPackingList.com makes interesting use of this app: the blog recommends downloading Foursquare to notify your friends and family when you arrive safely at your destinations.
Stream lets you broadcast audio or video right from your phone, letting you share your vacation moments with friends and family in real-time.