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.”
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.
Not a Nomad? No matter. The tricks we use are money savers for anyone calling internationally.
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.
Best Free Communication Apps
- Zoom: During the COVID-19 outbreak, everyone turned to Zoom and shortly after that, hackers took over the headlines by hacking free accounts. The key, SET A PASSWORD! Once you do, you can have friends dial in from all around the world for free and even set fake backgrounds.
- 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?
- Facebook: Facebook now allows you to “call” friends through the messenger app. So if you’re not up for downloading yet another app, this might just be your jam.
- 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.
- Oovoo touts group chats and there is also Pinger, Viber, Houseparty 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?
- 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!
There is a lot of competition in the appmosphere these days.
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.”