We used to send messenger pigeons. Then we wrote letters. Then we used tin cans connected by a wire. Then we made collect phone calls. Then we sent faxes. Then we sent emails. Then we updated our facebook status. Then we tweeted. Then we called for free. Wow!
People long to connect, especially while abroad. Whether it's chatting with locals or updating our friends and family back home, we are constantly sending and receiving messages.
Communicating internationally used to come at a big cost. Now it doesn't. Here's how to communicate for free while traveling:
On your Computer
- Skype: download skype, then talk, video chat, text and leave voice messages for free with other skype users. Want to call someone who's not a skype user, no problem, you're simply charged a minimal fee.
- Google Voice: Direct your phone calls to one master telephone number from whichever phone you want, wherever you may be... keeping the calls local for your peops! (not yet available in Canada)
- Google Talk: Google's instant messaging service also has chatting, video and voice mail function
- MSN: if you've still got friends who use MSN's instant messaging, you can take it to the next level and call them through the service.
*note that all of these services are dependent on a good wifi connection *if your computer doesn't have a built in microphone, or you don't want the rest of the lobby patrons to talk to your grandma, you'll need a headset with mic
On your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad There are multiple apps that offer free chit-chatting on your iPhone, but one of the best and easiest is Skype. It's a free and allows you to make free calls to other Skype users as long as you are connected to wifi. (Note... until the new iPhone OS 4.0 comes out, turn off all notifications prior to making a skype call to ensure your call isn't disconnected).
Yep, you can turn the iPod Touch into a phone. I've done it! Simply attach a headset and follow the same directions as above. You may need 3.0+ OS for this... but it's well worth the upgrade.
Your iPad also has a built-in microphone and speakers... but if you want to keep your convo private then use a headset.
On your Android Phone If you've concluded that Google is God and Apple is the devil and are rocking a droid-powered phone, then you too can download the Skype app, assuming your phone has wifi capabilities.
On your Blackberry Download the Skype app for your Blackberry, so you too can make free calls like all your cool friends with iPhones. Just remember to enable your wifi and disable your cell network connection if you want to avoid data and voice roaming charges.
On your Cell/Mobile (not free, but cheap)
- you'll need to buy or rent an unlocked GSM tri- or quad-band phone & SIM card (purchased online or in your destination)
- talk and text with local rates (make sure you're on the correct plan for your needs!)
- note that your phone # will correspond with your SIM card
With all this talk of free communication, the irony is, the lost art of letter writing is making a comeback. Maybe messenger pigeons will too?