How We Stay in Touch With Loved Ones While Traveling

We’re often asked how we stay in touch with our adult kids as we travel.

Yes, our phone conversations with family and friends almost always begin with the question, Where are you guys?

Honestly, in the days before cell phones and the internet, we’re not sure how anyone would have been able to stay connected while leading the lifestyle we’ve chosen… CONTINUE READING >>

We had plenty of outlets to keep us charged up and ready to rock on Amtrak's Empire Builder!
Staying in touch on The Empire Builder

We’re often asked how we stay in touch with our adult kids as we travel.

Honestly, in the days before cell phones and the internet, we’re not sure how anyone would have been able to stay connected while pursuing the lifestyle we have chosen.

Mostly because our phone conversations with family and friends almost always begin with the question “Where are you guys?

Those of us who have reached a certain age remember the days of sky-high long distance rates. Heck, I still pick up the cell phone and listen for a dial tone on a regular basis.

But the times are not only a-changin’, the sci-fi future of our black-&-white-TV childhood is here.

Back in the B.C. (Before Code-a-phones) days — no answering machines or voicemail — calling our folks involved setting a time during the cheaper late-night or weekend rates and then having fast-paced conversations highlighting only the most important news. Always with a clock ticking in the back of our minds to remind us of the fortune it was costing us.

How to Stay in Touch with Loved Ones While Traveling

Ma Bell may have charged by the minute (and the mile) at home, but it was always way worse when traveling. I seem to recall little cards by the hotel phones that said “Dial 9 to double your bill.”

That may be a bit of an exaggeration. But the fact remains that these days staying in contact while away from home is not only much easier, it’s way cheaper too.

Dragging Ourselves into the Modern World

Now we never have to be out of touch just because we’re on the road. Our phone is always there, with us wherever we roam, and can do much more than just place a call.

Decibel's text reaction to Mommy paragliding in Lima Peru
Our favorite text from Decibel right before we went paragliding

We can send a text message or an e-mail right from the palm of our hand.

Oftentimes we simply send a photo of something funny we see along the way.

If that’s not personal enough we also have live video chat capability through serves like Skype or Facetime, so seeing our adult kids while wandering the globe is not only possible, it’s simple.

These services are generally reliable for us throughout The States, but can vary depending on the provider. One thing to remember though, it is very important to check with your service provider before any foreign trip because fees for using your U.S. phone outside of the U.S. can be crazy high.

Veronica keeps in touch with family from a hammock in Mexico. GypsyNester.com
Keeping in touch from a hammock in Mexico

Most providers offer add-on packages for various countries, so it is definitely worth checking to be certain your destination is on the plan you chose.

Be sure to ask exactly what is covered, because text and web usage are not always included in a phone plan – an extra data package is often required.

Then, double-check because the charges, especially for Internet services, can make for a very unpleasant welcome-home surprise.

How We Use Our Phones Overseas

If we are on a longish overseas trip, we sometimes buy a pre-paid phone for in-country calls. It’s usually cheap, and it gives us a local phone number. Another method is to buy a sim card, but be sure to check that your phone isn’t locked to your at-home provider before you go. They almost always are.

We generally don’t go the sim card route because we prefer to keep our U.S. cell phone available if The Spawn or our parents want to contact us. When you change cards you get a new number and your old phone number won’t work anymore.

While smart phones are little modern marvels, for typing out emails we prefer a bigger keyboard and screen. Our tablets are small enough to fit in our carry-ons and to take on the go, yet still do everything the big behemoths do. Including worldwide video link-ups for face-to-face chats.

Veronica keeps in touch with family from The Galapagos Islands. GypsyNester.com
Staying in touch in The Galapagos Islands

But video can have its drawbacks. The comfort factor isn’t always there. Veronica still can’t do it without getting all dolled up first. So things must be prepared for and planned with the precision of a live television broadcast. There are camera angles to lay out, lighting scenes to test, sound levels to check, and hair and makeup touch ups, until we end up with production values somewhere between a broadcast of the evening news and the Academy Awards show.

Just kidding, but seriously, nobody wants to be seen by anybody, on any camera, in any time zone first thing in the morning. Still this Star Trekesque technology of global video connections is nothing short of amazing, and ready for our close ups or not, we love it.

How We Always have Wifi Domestically and Overseas

Keeping in touch in Queensland, Australia
Keeping in touch in Queensland, Australia

But we need WiFi to take advantage of these capabilities.

Not a problem, as most hotels and airports, many restaurants, and even airplanes now have WiFi available.

And if there’s no WiFi around in the States, several providers offer portable hotspots that create a wireless connection from a cell phone signal.

Ours does it right from our iPhone — talk about don’t leave home without it — we never do.

Tweeting from our balcony of our cruise ship using Tep Wireless
Staying in touch from a balcony on a
cruise ship in Europe

When we’re overseas, we use a pre-paid portable hotspot, so we have reliable internet anywhere – without losing our minds or our shirts.

All in all, there has never been a time when keeping in touch was easier.

I might still pick up a cell phone and listen for a dial tone from time-to-time, but I can’t remember the last time I had to dial 9.

David, GypsyNester.com

YOUR TURN: Questions? Comments? Further tips? Let ’em fly!

21 thoughts on “How We Stay in Touch With Loved Ones While Traveling”

  1. We love using Facebook calling now that they have it to talk to our daughter in Australia or wherever she happens to be in the world. On our recent trip to Ireland, we did buy a SIM card so that we had data available to us for maps. It was only $30 for a month and was very helpful and cheaper than renting a local GPS with the car.

  2. Thank goodness for technology! I remember having a set time each week that my husband and I would call each other when he was stationed in Korea in 2002. We used phone cards because there was no such thing as Skype or Facetime.

    Technology definitely makes staying connected with family and friends easier these days. We too keep our US number and are on an international plan. We just use wifi as much as possible and have a MiFi device that we can buy local country SIM cards for to have data when wifi isn’t available.

  3. It’s rather easy to keep in touch these days with loved ones!
    thanks to the way communication is going and the internet, but also all the tourists now know where all the secret and hidden places are around the world! untouched and unexplored lands are a thing of the past!

    I miss home too when i’m away… especially my mums cooking 🙂

    /Wilfy

  4. Keeping in touch while traveling has changed so much. I did almost 100% business travel for six years and looking back I don’t see how I did it. No phones, internet, nothing.

  5. The internet makes anything so much easier 😀 . Love it.

    I must admit I’m pretty bad at calling my parents, friends and brothers. I’m better at chatting with them but it’s not quite the same as talking to them. I try to get better. 😀

  6. I remember the days of not being able to screen calls, even when caller id came out we never had it and didn’t get an answering machine until I was in my teens, heh.

    I do do the sim card thing, mainly because I can get internet with it as well. I’ve also got a dedicated skype number than my folks can call whenever they feel like getting in touch. Though skype isn’t always the most reliable – signal wise – especially on my cell.

  7. I remember those days of not calling before 11:00 PM (when the rates went down) and then it better be because someone died—-actually, no, if they were dead, you could just write because they were dead already. But, if you were in the process of dying, you could call. If I arrived safely back at college after a break, I would “signal” my parents that all was well by calling collect and asking for the dog. This worked because the dog was named “Stuart”. Unfortunately, sometimes my father would say something like, “Stuart isn’t here. He escaped again.”

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