A lot of travelers don't give much thought to their loved ones back home, but staying in touch is a vital component of traveling safely, especially for solo travelers. What would give you peace of mind, but also what do your folks at home expect?
Put together a plan for staying connected with your friends and family, that way they know where you are and can raise the alarm if you don't turn up as expected.
Here are seven ways to keep in touch:
Leave a copy of your itinerary with the folks at home, including details of where and when they can contact you. This works well if you’re the kind of person who plans out every detail of your trip in advance or goes on an organized tour. But, if you roam wherever your bank account and desire takes you next, leave as many details as you can.
For those old enough to remember snail mail, keeping in touch on your big trip meant buying a postcard once a month and dutifully mailing it back home. It gave family a sense of how much fun you were having but was totally out of date by the time it arrived. Nowadays, you'd be mad not to use email for that purpose. It's easy to drop someone a short note, it arrives instantly and doesn't cost a cent if you use free Wi-Fi when it's available.
Most people now stay connected via social media, but if your grandparents are hoping to hear from you every once in a while, sending them an email is a nice thing to do.
International roaming charges can be huge, but if you have a WhatsApp account (used extensively across South America and parts of Europe), you can send text messages for free via Wi-Fi. When traveling through countries like China, where access to everyday applications and websites you use back home is prohibited, consider buying a local sim card and pre-paid credit from local providers.
If you're planning to go off-grid, send a quick text message to someone back home outlining your plan, and let them know that you'll be in touch when you're back safely. Always remember to send that second text so you don't set alarm bells ringing.
Setting up your own travel blog has many benefits:
Even if all you can manage is to regularly post a brief status update (the kind your desk-bound mates at home will wince at), at least it's a form of letting people know where you are – and how much of a great time you're having.
The only downfall of using social media is that it's not personal, and rarely goes into much depth. Make an effort to contact your loved ones with something more personal every once in a while – even if it is via Facebook Messenger.
You may also be able to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs (or equivalent) in your country of residence. This shouldn’t usurp your other efforts to stay in touch, but can greatly help with contacting you in an emergency. If you're going to be in the same country for a while, it's also a good idea to register your whereabouts with your country's consulate or embassy in that country.
Remember to alert your bank of the countries you will be traveling to, otherwise you might find your cards are frozen while you are overseas. Usually, you can fill out a form online before traveling.
Keep these contact details and documents in your luggage, or atleast online somewhere you can access them while traveling:
Leave a hard copy of these at home with a friend or relative in case of an emergency, where they might not be able to get in contact with you, but will require your details.
Send a copy of these files to yourself via email so you have them electronically – just in case you lose your luggage that contains all of these important documents.
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