Teenagers are notoriously bad at keeping in touch at the best of times, so what hope do you have if your teenage offspring has jetted off to the other side of the earth on their gap year? Well, with more ways to communicate than ever before, be that via the world wide web, satellite communications or the good old fashioned land line telephone, there’s a good chance that there’ll be a way to get through to your teenager even if they’re busy building a school in the most remote of African villages.
So what are the options? Let’s take a look…
The good old fashioned telephone is still a great way to stay in touch so ask your teenager to give you a call when they get to their destination and give you any contact numbers they have to hand. And if you’re worried about the prohibitive costs of international phone calls then you can use an access code to cut the cost of calls; whether you want cheap calls to Australia or cheap calls to Zambia.
And the best thing is that these access codes are completely free to use, no signup is required and you’ll just be billed as normal by your phone company.
Another telephone option is for your teenager to take a mobile phone with them – a cheap model to be used solely for phone calls is probably a better option than an expensive smartphone – and then get them to invest in a local sim card while there as this can drastically cut call costs and mean that you’ve both always got a way to keep in touch.
If your teenager is going to a destination that has an internet connection – and even some of the most remote destinations do now, thanks to satellite technology – then there are a number of ways that you can stay in touch, from email, to social media, and everything in between.
Get your teenager to set up a free email account, such as Google mail or Hotmail and they can then access the account from any internet connected computer they have access to. In addition, by signing up to Google mail, you can set up a Google Hangout and video call with the whole family.
You can also keep in touch via Facebook, Twitter or any of the myriad of social networking sites out there, or it may be a good idea for your teenager to set up their own travel blog on which they can record their experiences. That way they can let the world know what they’re up to and keep in touch via a comments section.
Then there is Skype, an online voice and video call service. It’s free to sign up, and all calls are voice and video calls are free to those who have signed up to the network.
Letter writing is fast-becoming a lost art as people get used to more instant ways of communication, but is still arguably the most personal way to stay in touch – and you can also use the postal service to send supplies to your (possibly) homesick teenager. Unfortunately, if you have a typical teenager, you can also probably expect any reply to get ‘lost’ in the post!
If you need to work out the postage rates for any destination in the world then the Post Office offer this easy to use price finder.