Using Your Smartphone Abroad

How to keep in touch with friends and family while travelling

A promotional article in association with Phones4u

Going backpacking and travelling is an exciting adventure, but you may find heading off alone without your friends and family there for support quite daunting. Luckily, in the 21st century we have modern technology that allows us to keep in touch with people whether they're round the corner or on the other side of the world. In fact, you may just find that you'll speak to your friends and family even more on the road than you would back at home!

So, regardless of whether you've got a HTC One, an iPhone 5, or any other smartphone, we've got a few tips on how to use your mobile to keep in touch with your nearest and dearest when you're travelling...

Jump On Free Wi-Fi

If you weren't already aware, it can cost you an absolute fortune to use your texts, minutes and data abroad (trust us on this one). This is because when you connect to a network in another country calls are routed via that network provider instead of your home network, at an increased cost. Calling and texting could end up hitting you in the wallet quite a lot, but data roaming is likely to be where you will get stung the most.

As such, it's advisable to turn off your 3G or 4G connection and data roaming, and wait until you can access free Wi-Fi to use the internet. Lots of bars, restaurants and hotels will offer free Wi-Fi to entice people in, so keep an eye out for these and jump on free Wi-Fi.

Video & VOIP Calling

Once you've hooked up to a free Wi-Fi connection, you'll be able to take advantage of free video and VoIP calling apps such as Skype (Android/iOS/Windows Phone) and Viber (Android/iOS/Windows Phone/BlackBerry). Skype allows users to make video and voice calls to anyone else who has Skype on their mobile or computer. Alternatively, Viber enables free voice calls to other Viber users on any device, network and country, so if you get all your friends and your family to download it then you can speak to them for free! Also, both Skype and Viber have instant messaging so you can text your anyone and everyone while on the road.

Using Your Smartphone Abroad

Instant Messaging & Social Networks

If you prefer to communicate by text rather than calling, a great alternative option for messaging people back home is WhatsApp (Android/iOS/Windows Phone/BlackBerry). This handy (and free) app allows users to exchange messages over a data or Wi-Fi connection, without any charge other than that of your data connection. Users of WhatsApp can also create groups and send images, video and audio media messages to friends and family completely free. You can show everyone where you are and make them all jealous (warning: this will happen). Or, if that doesn't sound particularly appealing, you can always use social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to message your pals instead.

Create Postcards Online

If you want to keep in touch with folks back home in a more tangible way, there are apps that you can use to design real life postcards. Touchnote (Android/iOS) can be used to take a snap on your travels, add text, and put the two together to create a postcard. Touchnote will then produce the postcard in the recipient's country and ship it within a matter of days. Using this service means your mum and dad will have something to put on their fridge to see how you're getting on, without having to wait months for it to arrive. Don't let the postcard die out; use Touchnote on your travels.

So remember, your loved ones will never be that far away as long as you've got your trusty smartphone to hand. Kit yourself out with the apps we've mentioned and you'll be able to tell friends and family about every step of your journey without racking up huge phone bills to come back home to.

Further Information

If you're looking for more advice and information then head over to Phones4u's website.

Also, if you're about to go backpacking and travelling then make sure you head over to our travel mates section to see who's about to go too!