Only a few years ago, it made more sense to leave the cell phone at home rather than deal with sky-high roaming costs and exorbitant per-minute rates. Today, travellers have a bevy of free apps to choose from which can make communicating both easier and more cost efficient. Download the following apps before your next international trip and you’ll find it easier to stay in touch with friends and family back home as well as new friends at your destination.
One of the peskiest problems faced by travellers is data roaming charges when travelling abroad. One way to deal with this is to purchase a SIM card or travel phone that allows you to make pay as you go calls, and leave your regular phone at home. Another option is to use local Wi-Fi at your destination, which can reduce data roaming fees. You can find the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot without wasting any time with this free Wi-Fi finder.
Once you have located Wi-Fi, the next step is to use a service like the WhatsApp Messenger to send data or text messages anywhere in the world. This service has been downloaded over 1.2 million times, making it one of the most popular communication apps in the world today. WhatsApp’s beauty is in its simplicity. You can easily send messages or photos to friends without paying a cent, and also allows you to share your GPS location or take part in group chats.
Another popular communication app for sending messages, Skype goes a bit further and allows users to place phone calls as well. Calls are free to other Skype users, but you can also place low cost calls to South Africa, the UK, or wherever you call home. Skype allows you to place free or low cost calls to landlines or mobile phones, and also has a handy video chat feature which can help cure a case of homesickness.
The apps mentioned above provide an easy way to stay in touch with your friends and family back home, without paying out the nose. However, there are also a number of translation apps which can help you communicate while travelling. Word Lens allows you to take a photo of foreign text, instantly translating it for you. The app is free to download, but you’ll need to pay for the language pack of your choice.
Another option is to download Speeek, which works as an oral translation tool. You can speak the phrase you want to say into your phone, and it will then translate this into the language of your choosing and say it back to you. There are over 1,500 useful phrases for travellers included in the app, so you’ll always know how to ask if something’s vegetarian or where the bathroom is.
Although nothing can beat sending a real letter or postcard to your loved ones, Touchnote provides a personalised service using your camera’s photos. You can turn any of your holiday snaps into a physical card, which is then sent anywhere in the world bearing your message.
It’s best to download these communication apps before you depart, to avoid maxing out your data allowance while travelling. Whether you need to place a low cost phone call or learn some new travel phrases, today’s technology can help you communicate more effectively.