How to stay in contact with friends

How to keep in touch with friends: 6 free communications apps

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Travel insurance is researched, currency is ordered, waterproof coat is packed – gearing up for a long-term travel trip is exciting yet exhausting! You never really understand the negative impact of life on the road until you are sleeping in the tenth different bed in two weeks or hunting for a quick turnaround dry cleaners and it’s during those lows that you wish you could have a hug from a parent or a moan with a familiar face. Fear not, although physical touch can’t be made, yet, there are apps to help you keep in touch with friends while touring and here’s the lowdown on our (Gemma and Craig) six favourites.

How to keep in touch with friends

1. WhatsApp

Everyone has WhatsApp or Telegram on their mobile phones now which is great for sending free images of you swinging on a hammock to the folks back home and keeping up to date with stories and gossip. One of the neatest aspects of the best wifi texting app, WhatsApp, is the group function. I have a series of group chats such as one with my friends from university called ‘Put On The Red Light’ (named after The Police song, Roxanne, as we used to do the drinking game to that tune at the student union) and countless country-specific groups to help arrange our trips. Craig has ‘Therapy’ with his pals from the home area, you are best not knowing what is said that group.

Understated functions of WhatsApp includes GIFs (found in the emoji section) and the option to edit and type/draw on pictures. WhatsApp also allows calls and video calls for one to one chats.

2. Facebook Messanger

Like WhatsApp, the Facebook Messanger app gives travellers the opportunity to chat with people in other countries via typing, call or video. It also has the option of group chats. Facebook Messenger is where I conduct most of my business chats with other digital content creators (as you can see in the image below, we discuss very important business details). Since I’ve only ever met a few in the flesh (internet friends!) we’ve not exchanged numbers so don’t use WhatsApp.

FB Messenger has a great selection of GIFs too and digital icons like floating hearts and confetti! I like how you can search chats for topics discussed in groups via Messenger on FB desktop and also mute chats that you don’t want notifications for.

These free group communication apps, WhatsApp and Messenger, have a recording function which is lovely if you want to hear someone’s voice. Our Colombian friends actually use voice record more than text!

Note – why don’t you just use Facetime? Well, my friends, I moved away from Apple phone last summer and I don’t think I’ll be going back.

3. Skype

Since the creation of WhatsApp and Facebook video, Skype has become pretty much redundant however Skype Credit for mobile is still useful if you are passing through a country fleetingly and it doesn’t make sense to invest in a new sim package.


4. Spotify

So obviously we all know that Spotify is a music streaming app which I love and mention frequently in gift guides but how can this app help communicate with people back home? Playlists! You can create a ‘collaborative’ playlist which allows another Spotify user to contribute. Why not create a theme challenge for the week? An alternative way to stay connected.

5. Send a postcard

In this digital age how often do we print our holiday snaps? Go one better and make family back home envious as they go about the 9-5 grind by posting pics of your hiking, surfing and skiing! Stay in the good books and never miss an event again. These apps let you send a card online for less than $2 which is cheaper than buying a card on Etsy. Photos can be put into themed templates, ‘framed’, text font adapted and envelopes added for additional charge. Another plus? Dates can be stored in the app diary so you will never forget a birthday or anniversary again.

6. Words With Friends

An oldy but a goody! This app is essentially Scrabble with a different name but you don’t need to be around the same board to play it. Users can play all over the world so not only are you checking in with friends, you are also exercising the brain. You’ll miss that, believe me!

Whether you are touching base at home or keeping in contact with new travel friends these recommendations will get you chatting and keep you ‘appy.

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Travel apps - communication apps

How do you stay connected?

Comments 6

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          They Skype features are free when on WiFi? The credit is for anything that isn’t free like calling mobiles and landlines. I used it in Vancouver to landlines for booking restaurants etc. I just had a UK sim which wasn’t open for use in other countries so I couldn’t get a Canadian sim.

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