How to Stay in Touch When You Travel

Finding the Best Ways to Communicate Overseas

It is 1995 and I have been away from home for over two months as I backpack my way around Europe, the desire to stay in touch as I travel increases daily.  Whilst I make new friends every day I long for a lengthy conversation with the ones I truly love.  But I have to wait until I arrive at the next town before I can collect mail from home and a $20 international phone card for a five-minute chat is not in the budget.

travel tips on how to stay in touch when travel

Please PIN/SAVE this for later.
Just hover over the image and use the red P button.

Fast forward 20 plus years and the world is a much different place when it comes to keeping in touch whilst you travel.  There are now so many choices that offer simpler and affordable ways to communicate as you travel.

6 Travel Tips to Keep in Touch Overseas


With the introduction of the internet writing mail suddenly became instant and you could access email just about anywhere as long as you could find an Internet cafe.

Today email is still a good way to stay in touch internationally and offers the option to securely share photos directly with those you love.

Switch off data roaming

But logging into the Internet can be expensive.  Ensure you have your mobile settings set up correctly when you travel overseas.  To do this go to the settings (gear icon) on your phone and turn off mobile data.  This will save you from any unexpected cost blowouts on your phone after you return home.  However, leave the WiFi setting turned on.

Find free WiFi

The best way to communicate for free is to utilise free WiFi.  The easiest way to find free WiFi is to book accommodation that includes free WiFi.  Be aware that the free WiFi is never going to be as fast as your home connection, but it gets the job done whilst you are away.  Allowing you to keep up to date on all your social media like Facebook or Instagram to showcase all those great travel photos.

If you can’t find accommodation with free WiFi perhaps find accommodation near free WiFi.  These days many city centres, shopping centres and McDonald’s offer free WiFi.

Free Apps

Besides sending emails and posting on social media through the free WiFi the other way to communicate internationally is to make phone calls.  To communicate for free by utilise free international calling Apps.

My favourite free international calling Apps are:

  • Skype
  • Viber
  • What’s App

Whichever mobile calling App you decide to use make sure your loved one at home has also installed the App onto their device.  To use any of these Apps you do not need to be connected to your mobile phone carrier’s international roaming service, but you will need the internet/free WiFi.

Get set price per day roaming

If however, you need to keep in touch overseas via the phone whilst you travel you possibly will need to set up international roaming on your phone.

To do this you will need to contact your mobile carrier service before you travel.  These days many mobile carrier services offer set price per day options.  Assess the rates your phone service charges, some fees may even include a small amount of internet data.

This option is not necessarily cheap but it does allow you to budget daily for the cost as opposed to coming home to a big unwanted surprise.

Buy local SIM card

Another option for communicating internationally is to buy a local SIM card once you arrive at your destination.  This could be a worthwhile option particularly if you are travelling in a region overseas for a long period of time or frequently return to that destination.

If you are on a holiday vacation for a short period of time (like me these days) it possibly is not the best option as you will spend your first day of travel at the shops purchasing the SIM card and getting it set up.

My advice, if you want this option, do your research on mobile phone services in your country of travel before you leave home so you don’t waste time looking for the best deal.

When we travel overseas now, my husband needs to stay in constant contact with his business so he arranges a set daily fee for his phone calls.  I book accommodation with free WiFi and have free international calling Apps installed on my phone.  No longer do I need to wait til I get to the designated town to collect my mail from the Poste Restante – now I can call my Dad internationally whenever I am in my hotel.

the best ways to keep in touch overseas when you travel

Please share this on Facebook.
Just hover over the image and use the blue F button.


  • We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.
  • Images courtesy of Pixabay


Toddlers On Tour

Hi, I'm a Perth born and bred travel tips blogger/writer with 20+ years experience in airlines, hospitality and tourism. I love sharing my travel lessons learned to help you plan for travel with my travel tips for trips. Please follow along to receive all my travel planning tips and destination inspirations.

28 Responses to “How to Stay in Touch When You Travel

  • chickenruby
    10 months ago

    I ALWAYS PURCHASE A SIM CARD ON ARRIVAL BEFORE LEAVING THE AIRPORT. Quite often when you purchase from elsewhere in certain countries they won’t sell you one without a residence visa, if it’s not the country that issued your passport.

    • Good tip about not being able to get a local visa if you are not a resident. Must check before you leave home.

  • So much easier now than 20 years ago. I always forget to buy a local Sim. Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes.

  • I have never bought a local sim card but it is a great idea. It is so important to have communication access now we have teens, their world could end if there was no wifi Thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes

    • Local SIM’s could be the answer with teens, especially if you want to keep track of them as they become more independent and head out on their whilst you are away.

  • A local Qatari provider

  • It is easy to forget how much things have changed. Travelling Europe as a teen I didn’t speak to my parents for the full 3 weeks, there was no obvious way to do so, that was 1984. What a differnece today! MondayEscapes

    • So true Fiona. Can’t believe your parents let you travel around Europe as a teen, mine were so stressed when I headed off in my mid 20’s.

  • Our mobile provide offers passports which are very reasonable and offer lots of data so Skype is always available #mondayescapes

  • So true that it’s so much easier to keep in touch then in the good old days, thank goodness that Poste Restante is a thing if the past, I never managed to keep plans long enough to pick up the post…too busy going with the flow #mondayescapes

    • I was forever having to redirect my mail Andrea as I had arrived at a destination before I had originally planned.

  • Great tips! Helpful post! My favorite way to communicate back to loved ones while on vacation is still through letters and postcards. Kind of old-fashioned, I know! Most often, I just use email these days though. #MondayEscapes

    • I love old school postcards. My grandmother use to keep all the postcards I sent so I could add them to my photo albums as momentos of where I have travelled.

  • Great tips! I remember hunting down Internet cafes to keep in touch with friends (email, MSN Messenger and ICQ!!) while traveling in the Philippines with my family.

    WhatsApp is what my husband and I usually to keep in touch while one of us is away. I use a Truphone SIM when we travel outside of Europe, particularly in the US, for those times I need to make calls or use data and just top it up when necessary. The service is all right and I can choose a temporary local phone number for people to reach me.

  • Great tips, we mostly get a local SIM card, and are always glad we have.

    • Do you stay in one destination for a long time, Paula? Do you find it takes a small portion of your first day purchasing the SIM card and waiting for it to activate?

  • I went to Ireland when i was 16 for 5 weeks and I called my parents once. It was no more than a 1-2 minute conversation — over when my pile of coins ran out. Now parents can be in touch as much as they and their kids want via skype, Facebook, email, etc. And it’s probably comforting for them. But there was something to be said for being really off on your own, too.

    • Modern technology is a bit of a mixed blessing Eileen. I know my parents are comforted knowing they can get in touch easily these days, but it also means you never truly have a break – my husband is still answering business calls throughout our holidays.

  • These are some good tips Sally-Ann. It has become easier than ever to stay in touch. This just makes it that much more frustrating when you can’t. We usually use free wifi when not traveling in Europe where we have free roaming in our plan. But we have gone with a local sim on a few occasions. Thanks for linking up, see you next weekend! #wkendtravelinspiration

  • I remember those times when you had to make a big line and wait to use the only public phone in a hotel. That was not good! I communicate mainly thru e-mail and messages using free w-fi. At the moment, I have not needed to get a data plans for my travels. #TheTravelPostcard

    • I’m with you, Ruth. I find the hotel WiFi sufficient for catching up on my emails and social media. When I’m out and about I just want to enjoy the experience.

  • I suppose it is a good thing to be able to stay in touch so easily but there was something really fun and exciting about the old days when you arrived at the Poste Restante with all your expectations of news from friends and family at home.

    • Yes there was something special about collecting your mail from the Poste Restante. All the travellers would be sitting just outside the post office devouring their mail some with a smile on their face and others with a tear in the eyes as they read about all the happenings back home.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *