Travellers Phone Home: Talk Really is Cheap

by : Adam Singleton

It's oft said that the world is getting smaller, and whilst we can be fairly sure that the planet is not actually shrinking in physical size, it's certainly easier and cheaper to travel to other countries than ever before. In fact, with more airports and more flight routes offering passage abroad, getting to foreign soil can cost less than a trip within your homeland.

More and more people, especially young people leaving school or university are taking advantage of this golden era of travel and are jet-setting off to far away lands in search of adventure as soon as their studies are done.

But just because you're trekking through Nepal, teaching English in Taiwan or skiing the slopes of New Zealand doesn't mean you have to forget your less fortunate friends and family at home. The internet era that has given us email, blogs, shared photo hosting sites like Flickr and other personal pages like Myspace and Facebook means that those left at home can still keep up with your adventures abroad.

However, there's no substitute for actually speaking to your loved ones, so it's no surprise that phoning home still remains the primary method of keeping in touch, and here's where the internet comes to the rescue yet again. Traditionally, travellers would have to use a call box to phone home and either buy a prepaid international phone card or watch their coins being very quickly devoured by a hungry pay phone.

But in recent years, making calls over the internet using VOIP (voice over internet protocol) has allowed travellers the ability to make very cheap, or even free international calls. As more and more people are living for extended periods of time away from their home country, the ability to make cheap internet calls is allowing people to stay in touch almost as easily as they would if they were still at home.

And using the internet to phone home also has other benefits; with a cheap webcam, video calls are easy, and cameras have come a long way from the jerky models of yesterday. Many internet cafes in popular traveller destinations cater for internet callers - providing a headset, a webcam and sometimes even personal computer booths for extra privacy.

In short, there's no longer really any excuse for not keeping in touch with friends and family from home; even the most remote outposts in the world seem to have internet access these days, and with cheap or even free calls abroad via VOIP, there's nothing but the time difference to stop you from phoning home.