If you are taking off on a long-term adventure, then you are probably going to want to keep in touch – both with family and friends back home and all those new friends you meet at home. Long gone are the days when a long-term traveler heads out on the open road only to be heard from sporadically when he or she purchases a calling card and hunkers down in a phone booth to call home once ever few months. Staying connected has its obvious pros and cons, but by and large, it’s quite nice to be able to keep in touch.
Whether it’s being able to update mom and dad and grandma and grandpa and keep them comfortable and knowing your safe and sound, keeping up with your favorite sports team back home, being able to see and talk to little nieces, nephews, and children of friends and family,or staying in touch with all the new friends you meet on your trip, the pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to our societies’ connectedness.
You don’t even have to bring your own computer with you these days in order to stay connected. There are plenty of internet cafes in nearly every city in the world (you can even hop online after day 1 of hiking the Inca Trail), and most hotels and hostels around the world have computer stations of some kind to get online and check email, write a blog post, upload pictures to Facebook, or make a quick Skype call back home. If you bring your own laptop, netbook, iPad, or cell phone, things are even easier.
The following resources all help you stay connected while on the road. How much you do so is up to each traveler. We understand that many take a trip like this to be able to unplug and get away from the chaos that is the daily, working life of most of the world’s citizens. But after that first month or two on the road, you may start to feel a little homesick or get a bout of travel burnout, so be sure you know of all the ways to keep in touch. For traveling families, you may want to educate yourself about all the available options before telling the family – that way you can you show the concerned grandparents all the ways you can stay in touch while gone.
If this was written 5-10 years ago, email would probably top the list of ways to keep in touch with everyone, and it is still a good way. Sending out mass emails to everyone you know keeping them up to speed with your epic trip is still done, but it’s just there are now better, easier, and more efficient ways of staying in touch.
There’s an entire generation who relies on email only for school and work purposes, instead using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to stay in touch. With a quick sentence or two and a quick upload of a picture, and everyone you are friends with, your followers, or your circles can see where you are and what you’re doing. Much easier than sending out an email to everyone you know.
In addition to letting everyone know what you’re doing and where you’re at, social media is great for staying in touch with people you meet on the road and getting information about the place you’re currently visiting or what’s next on the itinerary. Just arrived in Bangkok and need a place to stay, ask Twitter, and chances are you’ll have a bunch of suggestions within minutes. There’s nothing better than social media to get up to the minute suggestions, reviews, and tips for traveling.
Being 35 years old, I have obviously traveled many, many times without the advantage of Skype. But honestly, I have to say that I often wonder how I used to do it. Skype is a program you can install onto a computer that allows you to call (with VIDEO!) another computer with Skype installed or cell or land lines around the world. Skype to Skype is free, but it does cost to call a land line or cell phone; however, it’s usually pennies per minute, which makes it much cheaper than any other available option.
Traveling with your own computer is always nice, and if you are doing so, Skyping will be that much easier as you can do it anywhere there’s an internet connection. It’s nice to have privacy to make calls back home, and your own computer will allow you to do that. But even if you don’t have your own laptop, netbook, or tablet device, most internet cafes, hostels, and hotels have Skype installed on their computers. Many provide headsets as well, so getting in touch via Skype really is a cinch. It’s a great way not only to talk to loved ones but see them, too. If you have any young babies in your family or group of friends, it’s pretty awesome to be able to see them grow, literally, as you are gone. And if you are the ones with the babies and kids, your family (especially grandma and grandpa) will be ecstatic to be able to see and talk to the kids as you travel.
Skype is about as easy as it gets when it comes to installation and set-up, but if you really want to make sure friends and family are going to use it to stay in touch while you are gone, then offer to set it up for them. Show them how it works, make a few test calls before you leave (there is a bit of a learning curve to talking on Skype), and verify that the people you are really going to want to talk to regularly are comfortable using it. When you’re on the other side of the world and the time difference is huge, make sure you set up times to call instead of just calling out of the blue. If you’re feeling a bit of homesickness, there’s nothing better than being able to look forward to a call home.
Start a blog
There’s plenty of information on whether or not you should start a travel blog for your RTW trip, so I won’t go into too much depth concerning this right here in this article. There are a few things you should know before heading off to WordPress to start your own blog, though:
- A blog is a great way to keep your family and friends up to speed with where you’re at and what you’re doing on a daily basis.
- It takes time to write blog posts, upload pictures, and comment on your blog – keep in mind that it will get in the way of actually traveling.
- If you hope to monetize your blog give you supplementary funds, know what you’re getting into – it’s NOT easy to make money from your blog despite what all the ebooks tell you.
If you want to start a blog to stay in touch and connected with everyone from home and have a great account of your trip, it is a great way to do that. I encourage anyone who is interested in writing and photography to give it a shot, but it can easily turn into a part-time (or full-time depending on what you want out of it) job. There’s nothing wrong with spending a portion of your trip blogging, just so long as you are comfortable doing so.
For more in depth information about starting a blog, read Should I Start a Travel Blog?
Staying connected while you travel long-term is becoming easier and easier with each passing month. While this does have some downfalls, it is nice to be able to stay in touch when you want. You can still unplug and be unavailable so you don’t have to field phone calls all the time, but it’s nice knowing that when you want, family and friends are usually just a few clicks away.
Photo credits: 2Next: Budgeting While on the Road »