We now live in a world of smart phones and tablets, so that where-ever you go on holiday there is wireless internet (you might not book if they don’t have it!) and this provides a number of different ways to keep in touch with family and friends while you are away, rather than use phone calls or texts which are often charged for. This is particularly relevant for teenagers who cannot go 5 minutes without sharing an event with the outside world.
Now we are talking here about using Wireless broadband as you MUST turn off your roaming data while out of the country as it could cost you a fortune if you use it while abroad.
So, starting simple, there is email. Yes, obvious, but some people do forget how easy it is to use.
The growth of social media of course means we are most likely to use Facebook, but here we would like to use an air of caution. For most of us when we go on holiday we leave our homes empty for 1 or 2 weeks. So from your sunbed by the pool you upload a photo saying “1st day of our two weeks in the sun”. That goes to all your Friends. Whichever of those friends ‘Like’ it or share it, that message now gets seen by their Friends. So now you have just announced to an unknown number of contacts that your house is empty for the next fortnight! This is made worse when you have no idea what your teenager is writing and they have 500 friends, who each have 500 friends. It becomes obvious how this can escalate.
So our recommendation would be to have a word with your teenagers and adopt an air of caution yourself, just so this social media doesn’t get used in the wrong way.
Next on the list is good old Skype. There is Facetime for iPhone and iPad users, but Skype works on all versions of ‘i’ device, Android, Windows, etc, so can be easier to get installed for some.
If the video signal is not very good you can just use it for voice communications and if that is too poor then you can use the instant messaging feature. Skype is Free and so is an effective way to chat. You can use Skype to call proper landline phones, but you need to add money to your Skype account to use this option, though invariably while abroad it is cheaper than using a phone.
Final one to mention is WhatsApp. Now there are lots of messaging services, including Facebook’s built in messaging service, but WhatsApp really is streets ahead of the rest. Now this is an App that works on Smart phones as it is linked to your mobile phone number, but it does not cost to send messages. WhatsApp can be used to send text messages, photos, videos and voice messages. A neat feature of Whats App is the fact you can create groups that you can send messages to.
So as you head off to the sun this year, remember to turn off data roaming while you are away and be careful what you tell your ‘Friends’ on Facebook as you never know who else might see the message!