2016 Nomad Guide: Staying in Touch on the Cheap

In my 20’s my Mom traveled internationally for work. The coolest Ohio Mom ever, she gave the best gifts. A Chop from China, a Swiss Army Knife from Switzerland, a Pashmina I still use every day.

It was her way of saying, “I think about you when I travel.” 20 years ago, when Mom traveled, calling home, was expensive. Our family motto was “no news, is good news.”

Travel Tip Tuesday

A lot has changed since those days. WiFi and iPhones revolutionized communication, giving birth to Generation Nomad. People like my Husband and I, who can, and do, work all around the world.

Tips to Stay in Touch

Not a Nomad? No matter. The tricks we use are money savers for anyone calling internationally.

WiFi Calling

It’s become easier and easier to find free WiFi. Free WiFi = Free Calls. Once enabled, a phone will connect automatically when you find WiFi. NerdWallet has a good WiFi Calling 101.

Communication Apps

There is a lot of competition in the appmosphere these days. What, no appetite for Pun? Ok fine. Here is a no joke list.

  • GoogleHangouts: Provide an air of professionalism when hosting a video conference call… from a beach in Oregon… which I’ve done. Add a “video call” to your Google Calendar invite to embed a link in meeting reminders. Total Pro on the go.
  • GoogleVoice: Voice mail transcription save time and money, plus you can assign one phone number to multiple phones.
  • Oovoo touts group chats and there is also Pinger, Viber and Line which is popular in Asia. Got an Android in the family, try Tango. For us, we stick with…
  • WhatsApp: Easy to use it works on laptops, iPhones, blackberries, Android and Windows phones. Send text, photo and video clips without SMS charges.
  • There are plenty more out there, PCMag lists a 100 but… what if you have no WiFi?
  • Skype On: Yes, I know, everyone knows about Skype! But did you know it’s only $0.02  a minute, to place calls to any number?
  • Twitter: Travel bloggers and nomads love Twitter for its immediacy and ease to sending updates. Twitter chats are a great way for nomads and remote workers to feel like part of a community no matter where in the world, we are.
  • Instagram: The best hack I’ve learned along the way as a travel writer was to start using Instagram to check into places along the way. It gives you a timeline of where you have been and keeps your family and friends up to date. Plus, when you look back, you won’t have to struggle to remember the name of that small town, it’s tagged for you!

The Internet Without WiFi

Hiking in the Alps near Bardonecchia is a treat this remote couple recently enjoyed. The only drawback, WiFi-less lodging. Enter GlocalMe. The size of a bar of soap, this gadget connected both Bello and my iPhones and laptops to 4G WiFi.

It’s not free but you can budget it up front and buy data as you go in over 100 countries.

International Phone Plan

When it comes down to it, if we need to call home, we’re calling no matter what the cost. Before embarking on a 90 Day road trip, we switched to a Cell Phone Plan that actually saves us $1,080 this year, traveling or not!

Data can get expensive quick. So we’re careful to ensure our iPhones don’t act like data vampires. Here are our 28 iPhone settings to help save data.

Let’s face it there is still no better way to say “Hi Mom” and catch up over an international glass of red, then Skyping at Sunset from Spain. Now our family motto is “Cheers, love you.”


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