Keeping in touch with friends and family – Backpacking tips

Keeping in touch with your friends and family during your trip

Like many other travellers, we also had the difficulty of keeping in touch with those who stayed at home. Due to the time difference and the many experiences, we have tried various possibilities. Normal phone calls are very expensive, but nowadays there are plenty of alternatives, whether via smartphone, tablet or laptop. And even the good old postcard gets a special charm on a trip like that.


Today we show you some simple and cheap methods to stay in contact with your beloved ones all over the world.


What possibilities for short messages or telephone calls do I have

  1. International call packets from the phone company
  2. Facebook Call or WhatsApp Call
  3. Facebook Videocall or WhatsApp Videocall
  4. Voicemail
  5. Group messages via Facebook or WhatsApp
  6. Skype and other telephone services
  7. Blog / Online Travel Diary
  8. postcards


1. International call packets from the telephone company

Based on our experience in New Zealand, we have found that most cell phone service providers also offer International Minute Packages. You have to book this separately and then you have a number of minutes that you can use for international calls in a period. With Vodafone NZ, we had these these packages and then it was a normal phone call for about 3-5ct the minute to Germany. Whether mobile or landline call, was in the case no matter, other telephone companies offer similar packages which you need to book. If you are unsure, just ask in one of the phone shops of the provider you chose, staff can help you quickly and easily to find the right package for you. Important for international calls is also the correct country code. For Germany, instead of the first 0, it is the +49 (or even 0049). Remember to correct the number in your telephone book if necessary.

Also popular methods are phone cards for the classic phone booths, and here are cheap packages that even beat the mobile phone providers in price. Due to the inflexibility we did not try this system, but we have seen some offers on the phone booths.

This method for calling is suitable for anyone who does not have a smartphone with WhatsApp or Facebook. For other people there are cheaper options.


2. Facebook Call or WhatsApp Call

If you have a smartphone and the person you want to contact has one as well, then Facebook or WhatsApp might offer the easiest way with their phone option. Here, the calls are free, as long as you have enough data available on your plan. We have used this option most of the time, but only with all those who had WhatsApp or Facebook. For all others we have used variant 1.

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The voice quality is ok as long as the data connection is fast enough, but cell service is good in most places. Minor dropouts may occur but are not the rule, in case of problems it helps to recall again.


View on a smartphone screen with all the phone apps

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash


3. Facebook Videocall or WhatsApp Videocall

Again, a smartphone or tablet is required. With Facebook or WhatsApp you can also call with video recorded with the integrated camera of the device. Here a good data connection is even more important than the previously mentioned calls. The advantage for you, you can see yours opposite face and the person called also can see you. Disadvantage is, you have to be constantly attentive because. Also, the required data volume of a video call is much higher than just transferring the voice share. Nevertheless, this is a nice variant if you want to show more of yourself. According to our parents, they enjoyed a video call much more than a voice call.


4. Voicemail

For example, if you do not have time to call live due to the big time difference, then a voice message is a good idea. This can be heard by the receiver when time is available and then answer via voicemail as well. With the duration of the voice message, you should be a little careful, a message with well over 10 minutes running time is really exhausting and not many people listen 10 minutes without any answering in between. We've had good experiences of piecing longer messages into chunks of no more than 10 minutes. You can send voice messages via Facebook or WhatsApp, but also for example by e-mail if you have recorded and saved them with the voice recording app of your device.


5. Group messages via Facebook or WhatsApp

If you want to save work, it makes sense to create a group with all interested people. You can bundle these interested people for example in a Facebook or WhatsApp group. Of course, every other chat tool works as well, as long as groups are supported. This will save you from sending the same messages or photos to different people again and again. Invite anyone interested or tell them how to join the group, as soon as you send a message to the group, they can all read and respond. This saves an incredible amount of time and work for you. Besides, you cannot accidentally forget someone to send a message.


Girl looking on her smartphone

Photo by Kev Costello on Unsplash


6. Skype and other telephone services

In addition to the services already mentioned above, there are also the so-called VoIP services. The most famous one is probably Skype. With this you can start cheap calls to most countries. The costs vary depending on the destination country, but are always quite cheap. You need a cell phone or a PC, the appropriate program / app and a balance that you have to recharge before the call. The data stream with the voice is then fed into the local telephone network in the destinations country, so you can conveniently reach and call someone conveniently anywhere in the world. In addition to Skype, there are also the apps Discord, Apple Face Time or Google Hang Out suitable for such calls. Since the possibilities here are changing fast, it may be that there are other apps that work well. If you find one that is missing here in our post, we look forward to your comment under our blog article.

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7. Blog or online travel journal

If you would like to show everyone what you are experiencing, but do not feel like addressing anyone personally or calling, then a blog or an online travel diary is the right choice. Here you can even write articles, add photos and even decide when you publish something. Popular platforms for your own simple blog include Blogger (https://www.blogger.com/*) or a slightly more extensive version under WordPress (hosted on WordPress website* for a small amount per month). Larger variants with more options, you can book for example with All Incl. Hosting it yourself, here we also hosted our blog. All Incl. Can be tested for 3 months for free, for example with WordPress (Link to All Incl. https://projekt-neuseeland.de/allinkl*). For questions about blogging you can also send us a message, as we have knowledge in this business since 2016.


8. Postcards

A simple and beautiful way is still a postcard. If you have the address, a postcard is created quickly. Mail delivery from New Zealand is also relatively reliable, but it may take a few weeks for your card to travel halfway around the world. However, the bigger the surprise and the pleasure of the recipient when your postcard arrives. Especially our grandparents were very happy about postcards and have so been able to participate in our journey.


Questions, comments or ideas

Then we look forward to your comment in this blog post. Did you find another useful app or something similar? Then we are also happy if you share your tip with us.


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