The Best Apps for Keeping in Touch on the Road

best apps for keeping in touch on the road

Keeping in touch with friends and family while traveling is much easier than it used to be before the days of the Internet. We no longer have to reply by letter writing and awkward street phone booths. And once we’ve finished our trip, it’s simple to stay in contact with friends we’ve met along the way.

So which smartphone apps are the best for these purposes?

Skype

Skype is a traveler’s necessity, as you can use it to call other Skype accounts and chat for free, as a video phone and even as a forwarding service for an international cell phone. The basic plan is free, but you can pay for credit for certain features, such as calling a landline or mobile phone (great for those people in your life that aren’t always connected to the internet). You can also upload pictures from your trip into the chat feature, so you can show your friends back home how beautiful that sunset was in Thailand. Download Skype straight onto your computer or use on the go with their app.

Price: Free

Available On: Windows, Android, iPhone, Blackberry

Viber

Viber is an app similar to WhatsApp, which is the one I use, that allows both calling and messaging functions through the Internet. I downloaded WhatsApp after leaving Australia as a way to keep in touch with friends back in Sydney, but it doesn’t have the call function. Viber has desktop call features like Skype, but its app offers free photo and video messaging, VoIP calls over 3G or WiFi, group messaging and access to call landlines for low rates.

Price: Free

Available On: iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Bada, Nokia

Gmail

It may seem old fashioned in comparison with other apps, but email is still one of the top ways I keep up with friends who are far away. The advantage is that messages can be longer, rather than the quick text features of messaging apps. Some people might not want to download Viber so they can speak with you, but already have an email account and can chat that way.

Price: Free

Available On: Android, iPhone

FaceTime

Users of iPhones and iPads have come to love this feature, which comes pre-loaded on their devices. Your camera is used as a video screen so you can see the person you’re chatting with. The app works with both phone numbers and email addresses.

Price: Free

Available On: iPhone

Foursquare

Foursquare was created as a way to “check in” to places you visit frequently and read tips on the best dishes to try or special features of the location. But I use it as a way to let my family know that I’ve safely arrived at my destination. When I was in Turkey, I checked into each hostel I stayed at so that someone would know where I was in case something happened.

Price: Free

Available On: iPhone, Android

Facebook

It’s no secret that Facebook is one of the most popular ways to stay in touch. I’ve been a member of Facebook groups with friends from my travels where we talk about what’s going on and where we are now and sent messages to friends on the other side of the world. Facebook may have plenty of downsides, but the upside is that nearly everyone in the world has an account, so you can bet that it’s the best way to communicate with traveling friends and family.

Price: Free

Available On: iPhone, Android

Postagram

Bringing together the old fashioned and the new, Postagram allows you to take pictures from your trip and send real postcards to your friends and family back home. The app itself is free to download, but you may have to spend $1 or so to mail your postcard, depending on how far away it’s going.

Price: Free

Available On: iPhone, Android

What are your favorite apps for keeping in touch while traveling?

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Emily says

    For about $20 you can transfer your phone number to Google Talk and people can CALL your cell number while you’re abroad without any international fees. You just have to have G-Mail open!! So yes, it requires internet on your end- but anyone else can just call you like normal!

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