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Keeping in Touch on Your Gap Year

Staying in touch with people back at home like your friends and your family can be difficult when you're travelling. If you're in different time zones, calling people back home can be antisocial either ends of the phone, internet connection is available pretty much everywhere nowadays, even in the most remote internet cafés, but the connection might not be as fast as it is back home and you could be spending hours trying to send one email. Phone signal can be poor, especially in those beautiful but hard-to-reach places or if you have too many exciting things planned you might even temporarily forget all about home! There are so many ways to stay connected these days that unless you're trekking through Outer Siberia, you should be able to stay in touch with as many people as you want.

There are a variety of ways to enable travellers to fill their friends with envy back at home - here are just a few:

Social media

Stay in touch as often or with as many people as you want with Facebook and Twitter, especially as there aren't that many people nowadays without a Facebook account. If you're limited on Internet access then a simple status won't take long to upload to let people know you're safe and well. Set up a location for each of your updates and tweets - this lets people know where you are and enables them to follow your journey.

Skype/Facetime

One of the most popular forms of long-distance communication as both the caller and the person called can see each other and speak in relatively real time from any tablet, phone or computer. You can also use Skype to make extremely cheap phone calls.

Blogs

Keeping a blog of your travels is simply like a public diary - you can update it whenever you want and include anything you want on it. Blogging sites with smartphone apps make it easier to blog and update your 'followers' when you're on the go.

Video diary

If you're not great with words, and your photography skills aren't that good either, people won't be appreciating the exciting things that you're getting up to whilst on your journey, and the beautiful views you're seeing. If you film yourself talking about what you've been up to, it'll be easy to talk about your great experiences and your emotions and excitement will come through a lot more to people watching, so they can really get a feel for what you're up to.

Email

Pretty much everyone has an email account nowadays so this is an easy and free way to stay connected. Plus, you can send them in bulk. Before you leave for your trip, create a contact list so you can write one email but update as many people as you want, which can come in useful if you have poor internet connection.

Apps

Because of the worldwide popularity of the smartphone, there are so many apps available to download (either at a price or for free) which give you access to messaging and communication services worldwide. Obviously internet access is sometimes required for these, so make sure you are connected to WiFi... or risk a huge phone bill!

WhatsApp is the world's most popular messaging app, allowing you to send messages and photos free of charge to anyone else with the app. Viber allows you to make calls for free to other people who have the app.

Track My Tour allows you to create an online map of your journey that updates as you do. People back at home can then follow you as you travel. So whether you're travelling and you don't have a reliable internet connection or an adequate phone signal, there's always one way or another to connect. Remember not to spend your entire time worrying about reaching out to home however - it's silly to surround yourself with great sights, interesting people and unique cultures just to panic about your lack of 3G.

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