How To Stay In Touch When You Travel


Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you have to disconnect. These days it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with your loved ones when you travel.

Here’s some tips on how to stay in touch when you travel, so your family and friends can get back to supporting your decision instead of worrying.

How to Stay in Touch: Get Comfortable With Email

Everyone will have some kind of communication tool for traveling, the default they turn to get those messages home.

For me, it was email. Most of my travels have been through regions where internet access was readily available – hosts had wireless access in rooms or a computer lounge for volunteers with plenty of bandwidth.

This was a lifesaver.

Not only is email quick and easy, I liked having it as a fairly constant resource.

I simply kept up my usual contributions from abroad, though they started to appear a bit late thanks to lagging time zones or with strange new additions like what vegetable I’d harvested or what mountain I’d climbed that day.

Surprisingly, the familiarity made email a comfort while traveling. It was a wonderful way to keep up with their everyday lives.

How to stay in touch with friends and family when you travel

Stay Connected via Facebook & Social Media

If you’re a social media maven, you may be surprised at how these networks can continue to fit into the traveling life.

The Facebook news-feed has the same sort of instant gratification when you just want a little window into life at home. But what was better than that, for me, was discovering that Facebook truly is a global phenomenon.

As I moved my way around the world, I was amazed to realize my list of Facebook friends grew.

Soon I was scanning my newsfeed to see updates in Czech, English, Italian, German, Japanese and Bulgarian.

Facebook let me stay in touch with the people I was meeting on the road. You’ll often find that people in other countries LOVE Facebook. I’ve met so many locals and travelers alike that use this platform to connect.

How to stay in touch with your family when you're traveling

Keep a Journal or Blog

A lot of people begin blogs as a way of recording their travels and sharing their experiences with people at home, who can follow the tales of their favorite traveler.

Most of my first trips were recorded entirely in paper journal form.

On the road, I was more concerned about using the web to get updates from others, not to post my own (that came later).

One great idea is to be community-minded: try starting a group blog with friends or family before you take off.

That way, when you record your travel triumphs and travails, you can also read up about what they’re doing at home. Your posts can bounce off things that your friends are writing about, or be completely unrelated.

Call your family at least once a week

These days you can Facetime on an iPhone with another iPhone customer and it’s completely free.

If you have T-Mobile, you’ll also be able to text (and roam) for free with unlimited text and data. T-Mobile hands down has the best plan for travelers.

If you want to call friends in the new country you find yourself in, you can invest in unlocking your phone by calling your service provider, sending the phone in, or unlocking it yourself with software. You can also buy a pre-paid card that simply pops into your phone and turns it into a locally functioning cellphone.

Video Phone

Skype is probably synonymous with this.

You can download the Skype client to your computer, create a login and search for your friends’ Skype accounts and then video chit-chat to your hearts content for free. You can also call cell phones and landlines with Skype, for a small fee.

One exciting discovery I made on the road was Google Call Phone.

For American and Canadian Go! Girls, you can call cell phones or landlines at home for free from anywhere in the world! (Other countries can be called too, but there’s a charge.)

Nothing was as gratifying as typing in my parents’ home number, gasping as my laptop started to ring and then hearing my mom’s voice emanating over the speakers. And Google has video-chat too for when both parties have a camera set up.

You might want to bring a headset with a built-in microphone, for a feeling of a bit more privacy.

Tips on how to stay in touch while traveling

Send and Receive Snail Mail & Care Packages

Sometimes nothing beats the delight of picking out a postcard or quietly drafting a long, handwritten letter. I sent postcards as birthday cards, holiday wishes or just brief hellos.

And the tone of handwritten communication is utterly different – it’s worth giving yourself the task of drafting a few communiqués from a café table or the beach, capturing the details you can only get far away from the computer screen.

And your friends will be just as excited about getting hand-posted notes from you as you will be about receiving real mail while on the road! The more you send to them, the more you can encourage them to reply in kind.

I loved getting mail – real, paper, packaged mail – while away.

I got a few particularly thrilling care packages abroad, including one cardboard box packed with s’more ingredients that was shipped across the Atlantic just so I could give a few friends lessons in how I did campfires as a kid.

Don’t know exactly where you’re headed? No problem!

While you can usually give your address to folks at home as soon as you get where you’re going, there’s one fool proof way to make sure their letters get to you: ask them to give you their letters before you leave!

It sounds silly, but taking up hardly any room or weight in your pack, you can have a comforting, calming note from home on hand whenever you need a little pick-me-up.

Ask friends for a sealed letter you can stuff in your pack for later, and enjoy reading it days, weeks or months later. It’s a slightly counter-intuitive way to keep in touch.

Don’t Forget to Disconnect

Letting people know where you are and what you’re up to allows you more mobility and freedom because you have a greater safety net.

But one closing thought: though there are a million ways on how to stay in touch when you travel don’t forget the importance of disconnecting for a minute.

One of the most incredible parts about travel is letting yourself feel independent, free, and sometimes quiet and alone.

While you should definitely keep in touch, don’t forget to balance it with getting in touch – with your surroundings, your new circumstances and yourself.

When the last email is sent and your video call is done, step out into your new surroundings and connect with what’s right there in front of you.

Give everything and everyone their due while you’re there – these are the people and places that you’ll be wanting to keep in touch with upon your return.

What’s your style when it comes to how to stay in touch on the road? Constant contact or the bare minimum of messages?

How do you stay in touch with family and friends? Tell us in the comments!


About Author

When Julie was a little kid, she conspiratorially whispered to her dad, "You know what? I have powers." It took the world, and Julie, about 20 years to figure out what the heck she meant by that. But in 2010, when a chance backpacking adventure turned into a year of transformational travel, she cracked it: her super power is Wonder Wandering. Her mission? Using her powers of volunteering for globe-trotting good, not evil. Her kryptonite? Stayin' put.


  1. Using my website to keep family and friends informed about my experiences is how I make sure they still feel involved in my life. But I need more personal communication than that as well. Email, Skype, and Facebook are the best!

    Early in my trip when I was feeling especially alone (and had just gotten robbed), I actually sent a “cry for help” email to my best friends and told them we had to schedule a Skype call. I needed them, and despite being thousands of miles away, they were there for me.

  2. This is an excellent post on communication and don’t think I could add anything to it. I completely agree that it is VERY IMPORTANT to put down the computer, pen and paper, and technology and enjoy your travels. Make sure you connect with others and make memories. After all, you have nothing to talk about and share if you aren’t experiencing it!

    One other thing I may add to communication. Register your plans with the embassy or state department in case an emergency comes up and someone needs to get in touch with you or vice versa. Not always thought of as a communication thing but getting in touch with you when needed could be really important.

  3. What a great piece on staying connected. It really does feel good to have ways to communicate and feel the love of those we miss, when we travel abroad. I love Skype and facebook.

  4. Skype has definitely changed the way that I communicate with my friends and family. My parent’s have lived in Tanzania for a long time, when I was in University in the US, I wasn’t always e-mail reliable, but they could call my phone directly from skype (when their internet was working – 50% of the time).

    To those of my friends that use twitter now, it’s my preferred easiest way to communicate (little things) – no room for unnecessary wordage.

  5. Staying in touch is super easy while on the road. Now days access to the net is everywhere and very convenient. However, the digital world is taking over and we find more travelers submerged in their laptops chatting away for hours on FB. So travelers, make sure you balance a little bit of digital world is good but be careful not to get sucked and enjoy your journey.

  6. When I first got to Australia three years ago, Skype, my mobile and emails were my saving grace. I also kept a blog to keep everyone updated at the same time about everything that was going on – that way I didn’t have to worry about whether I’d told so-and-so that story. It also ended up being a great keepsake for me about my trip. But as time went on, the Skype dates and phone calls and emails became less and less as I became more absorbed in the journey itself. When I got home, I had so much to fill people in on that I never got around to sharing because I was enjoying my time without technology so much!

  7. Pingback: Missing Out On Events Back Home: How to Deal — Go! Girl Guides

  8. I love keeping in touch with people when I travel. I was an au pair in England, studied abroad in the US for a year and traveled to a few countries on my own or with friends and I always keep in touch with people.
    Skype has always been my savior to stay in touch with the people I love, being able to talk and see them live is just awesome and I’m so thankful it exists!
    But there’s on thing that I particularly love: writing postcards. It is slow and it’s completely different from skyping but the whole process is so worth it! From taking my address book with me everywhere I go, to picking the perfect postcards and hearing the thank yous when I come back. It’s like sending a little gift, a little part of me and a little part of my experience and sharing it with the people that matters. There’s nothing quite like seeing one of my postcard proudly pinned on my friends’ walls 🙂
    A lot of people say that sending postcards is old-fashioned, but I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like receiving them^^ So think about it when you’re abroad, sure it takes time but the responses you get are priceless and who knows, you might get one in return from a country you haven’t visited yet.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.