Staying in Touch While Overseas: Phones, Email and More!

by Narelle Webber on Thursday, 19 September 2013

You’ll want to communicate precious moments such as this one in Swaziland. Hopefully this blog will help you know the different ways to do so (c) ISV

As you prepare for your ISV program you’ll definitely be interested in knowing the options for keeping in touch with friends and family back home.

Staying in touch while overseas is easy if you know how, but there are definitely pros and cons of the different ways such as cell phones vs. calling cards, snail mail vs. email, etc.  As you prepare to travel with ISV overseas, make note of the following recommendations.

Facebook, Email and Internet Access

These days, even the most remote of countries have some provision of internet and wireless services. However the quality and availability of service is highly variable. As an ISV participant, you’ll get an indication of how much internet access or Wi-Fi you’ll have on your volunteer project when you receive your project overview (30 days prior to departure). Generally on ISV’s adventure tours you’ll have good internet access most of the time (but sometimes you’ll be without it for a few days in a row – depending on your itinerary). Of course when you have internet access, you can use Facebook, Instagram, send emails, use Whatsapp for texts or Skype/Viber call home.

We also encourage you to post on ISV’s Facebook page too (currently over 60,000 fans) or some students love to write their own blog on the ISV Online Community (over 11,000 users!).

Where there’s internet, there’s Facebook. Please post great pics and status updates on ISV’s page too! (c) ISV

Generally we don’t recommend you bring an iPad or laptop. There are lots of reasons, such as varying and sometimes unpredictable levels of Wi-Fi or internet access, threat of theft (you can’t tempt anyone to steal from you what you don’t have), and the possibility of them being damaged (e.g. in high humidity areas).  You should get by with a smart phone (e.g. iPhone or android) or connecting through internet cafes.

Snail Mail

Sending mail from the overseas to most of ISV’s host countries is not recommended. Why? First, due to the remoteness of most volunteer projects and second due to the rapid change of destination on tour – we’ve seen it happen that mail arrives days or weeks after you’ve already been and gone at a particular location. Sending postcards from your host country to family and friends is perfectly fine, but you might beat them home!

ISV takes you to many remote locations (like this one in Thailand at Khao Sok National Park). Don’t bother asking anyone to mail you something from home; once it arrives you’ll already be long gone (c) ISV

Cell Phones

Sim-cards: In most countries it’s easy to take your cell phone from home and purchase an inexpensive local sim-card upon arrival (make sure your phone is unlocked first!). You can then pre-pay for credit and monitor the cost of your local and international calls this way.  Your ISV leaders will be able to help you know where you can purchase sim-cards soon after your arrival.

Global Roaming:  You might want to bring your cell phone with you on your ISV program. While we can’t guarantee 100% cell phone reception on project or tour, you should be able to use a cell phone for the majority of your time overseas. However, BEWARE – used recklessly, you could ruin your trip with enormous bills due to VERY high “global roaming” fees for sending/receiveing text and calls. First, your phone service provider must be notified to enable international “global roaming”. Some brands have very reasonable plans if arranged in advance (eg Telstra, Vodaphone, Optus etc).  You should contact your cell phone provider’s customer service department to inquire about pricing and billing prior to departure.

Calling Cards and Public Phones

Sim-cards: In some countries it’s easy to take your cell phone from home and purchase an inexpensive local sim-card upon arrival. You can then pre-pay for credit and monitor the cost of your local and international calls this way.  Your ISV leaders will be able to help you know where you can purchase sim-cards soon after your arrival.

Calling Cards and Public Phones

Calling cards are an easy and inexpensive option for calling home from overseas. We recommend that you purchase a calling card upon arrival in your host country rather than prior to your departure, as rates are generally better for cards purchased in the host country. Your ISV leaders can help you with information as to where to purchase calling cards when you arrive.

In terms of your pre-departure preparations, start to think about your phone-situation now if you are travelling with us in a few months’ time.  Otherwise we hope this information is useful to you as you travel internationally.

To learn more about ISV and our programs visit our website.

 

 

 

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