Travelling the world can be a great and fulfilling adventure, but it can also result in some pretty serious homesickness. Likewise, travelling for business can expand your horizons and bring a company to a new level, but there is a great need to keep the lines of communication open. So how does one stay connected while travelling the world without paying a fortune to do so?
The cost of staying connected will depend largely on your needs. Will you want to call home every night and have continuous internet access throughout the day to look up directions and sites to visit or will a weekly e-mail to let people know that you are doing well be enough? Are there friends you need to contact within the country you are visiting or will all calls be directed back home? Are you willing to catch up on the news when you get back or do you need a daily report to feel comfortable? All these questions will affect what system you use and how much it will cost to keep you connected.
The first step is to research before you go. Most cell phone companies offer reasonably priced international plans that can help lower costs. It will be much less costly to sign up for these plans in advance than it would be to pay the overage charges when you return home. Your cell phone provider may offer good rates both for simple calling plans and for mobile broadband around the world. However, you should expect to pay more for this service than you would at home.
If you are on a tight budget or cannot find a plan that works with your needs, international phone cards are another option. These cards can be preloaded with minutes, allowing you to pay as you use them, rather than paying for a large chunk of minutes that may or may not be necessary. Just be certain to purchase a card that will work in the correct area.
Many areas, especially in Europe and the United States will offer free or low cost internet to travellers. Free WiFi is common in many places, and establishments such as internet cafes allow use of their wireless or broadband services for a low hourly fee. Many hotels will also offer free or low cost high speed internet. A laptop that can access wireless internet may make a good travelling companion, as it will allow you to take better advantage of these opportunities. There is no need to haul a large, heavy machine along, as there are a wide variety of net books, small laptops made primarily for basic functions and on the go communications, available to consumers for a relatively low price.
There are also a few free options for maintaining connections back home while travelling the world. Skype is a free service over the internet that allows you to connect and hold video conferences with anyone who also has a Skype account. This company also offers a no-frills mobile phone that can be used abroad to connect with other Skype users or even other cell phones for a much lower fee than is found with many cell phone companies. Magic Jack is another technology that allows for unlimited international phone calls for a low, one-time price, using internet access and a cheap phone that can be plugged into your laptop.
International travel can be intimidating, especially when it comes to keeping up communications with people back home and staying abreast of what is going on in the rest of the world. However, with a little early planning, communication back home can be a breeze.