The great thing about moving country in the modern era, is the fact that technology makes it so much easier to communicate with your loved ones back home! Whilst it might not be the same as seeing them face-to-face, we now don’t need to deal with ridiculously expensive phone bills or worse, waiting for a letter in the post!
Today I’ll go over the ways in which I keep in touch with my family and friends and I’ll also give you some alternatives!
With more than 1 billion users world wide, this is probably the most common form of international communication! Most people I know use WhatsApp in everyday life, not just for long distance.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it (a lot of my friends in the US hardly use it!), it is an instant messaging service owned by FaceBook that uses internet to make voice calls, video calls, send text messages, videos, voice notes and more! The app is available to download for free, both for iPhone and Android, all you require is a smartphone with an active cellular number.
Set up is very easy as your existing contacts that you have saved will automatically show in your WhatsApp contacts, if they are using the messaging service also. Another great feature of WhatsApp is that you are also able to sync all of your messages to your computer (both Windows and Mac devices) via WhatsApp Web allowing you to switch between devices, however the web based program doesn’t support video or voice calls.
Obviously as this service requires internet, you will be eating into your data allowance when you make long phone calls, the best way to get around this is to make your calls over Wi-Fi.
You can view a full list of features on the official WhatsApp website.
International Phone Plans With Your Phone Carrier
Most network providers offer some type of international calling plan, whether that be for your landline or your mobile device. I got a US phone about 2.5 weeks after I got to the states and as my husband and all his family are with Verizon, I am too!
Verizon in particular offer a really great international calling plan called ‘Unlimited Together World’, for an additional $15.00 a month you can get unlimited international calls to the UK, as long as the numbers you call to are included in Verizon’s participating carriers. The people in the UK will not be charged for answering your call!
This rate may vary for other countries, you can check the rates by clicking here and entering the name of your country. If you are with Verizon and decide the plan is for you, then all you need to do is call their customer service line and ask them to add it to your plan and ensure they activate international calling at the same time!
Why bother with additional paid services, if you can use WhatsApp for free?
There are two reasons why I opted to go for an additional paid service on top of using WhatsApp:
- My Grandma doesn’t know how to use a smartphone, therefore can’t use WhatsApp and as I’m really close to her, I like to phone her every week. With this service I can phone her for as long as I want, whenever I want.
- As WhatsApp runs through your phones data allowance, the application wont work if you don’t have an internet connection. This can sometimes be an issue if you or the person you want to call, doesn’t have a good coverage or have run out of data, so I like to have a back up so I can always phone my nearest and dearest!
Other methods for long distance communication
- Skype – is a really popular video messaging app. I used this a lot to communicate with Anthony when we were doing long distance, as you can video call/text on either the app or on the desktop platform. However when WhatsApp introduced video calls there was really no need to switch between apps. I know that Skype also do prepaid phone credit, where you can phone any number via their platform – but again it’s over an internet connection, so you might occasionally run into the same issues that I mentioned previously!
- Viber – This is available in mobile and desktop versions. Similar to WhatsApp but less people use it, so for me personally, using this can be difficult to keep in touch with everyone and it’s easier to keep everything on the one app.
- FaceTime & iMessage – If you have an Apple iPhone or Apple Mac you can video chat/audio call and text with other iPhone users as it runs through your data allowance or Wi-Fi. This may seem the most straight forward option for people but not all my family have an iPhone and I no longer have one either!
Technology like this will never fully close the gap between you and your loved ones, but it definitely makes the distance feel less and the time in between seeing each other much easier!
What is your preference for maintaining your long distance relationships?