I think for most travellers and in fact anyone who’s moving overseas for an extended period of time one of the hardest things to get over is the fact that you will be leaving your friends and family behind. Most travellers I speak to find this the hardest part of long term travel, just the fact that your support network, all the people who can make you chicken soup when you’re sick or have a beer with when you’ve had a rough day will be saying their teary eyed goodbyes to you at the airport. Homesickness seems to stem from this fact more than anything else, and fair enough, the people in our lives are what really matter.
Something I have been dabbling with while abroad is the best way to stay in touch with my loved ones while I’m away. Generally when I travel I’ll purchase a cheap mobile phone and/or local sim to make local calls and to have a local number (which helps with all sorts of day to day things, like booking things locally etc..) but the rates these carriers charge for international calls are astronomical… also I’ll generally have my trusty iPhone with me as a travel, not just for music, but also since I can hop into any WIFI network I find along the way and check emails, social media etc.. not to mention the absolutely invaluable Google Maps app.. (travelling back in BG times – Before Google – would have just been way harder… ).
Still this is only a local solution and it doesn’t really answer the question of what are the best ways to stay in touch with for family and friends while overseas. I’ll generally use a combination of Email and Facebook to share pictures, stories and those sorts of things, but for actual conversations it’s never been easier (or cheaper) then it is today to make international calls online also. I have had some great luck with a company called Rebtel, which offer amazing quality VOIP calls for hardly anything at all price wise. VOIP (voice over IP), for the uninitiated is a concept that allows phone calls to be made using the internet. You can make calls over WIFI and 3G networks which is really useful since you can simply download the app (across any device you have on you) add a few dollars to your account then call home for a fraction of the cost that local carriers will charge customers.
Good example, I’m in Turkey at the moment and to call hone (Australia) it will cost me roughly about .2c per minute.. (that’s 20% of 1 cent.. per minute) yep, crazy cheap. It also allows me to call landlines, mobiles and send text messages from my phone… Technology really does seem to make the world smaller and the only person who loves it more than I do is probably my mum..