Itâ€™s nice to be away and disconnected. However, whether for your own needs or for those back home, you will need to stay in touch during your Gap Year. So whatâ€™s the best way to do this? Youâ€™re lucky. Youâ€™ve got optionsâ€¦
Everyone is on some form of Social Media these days and a tweet or Facebook status is quick fire way for all your friends to see what youâ€™re up to. One of the functions of Facebook that I personally find useful is the location tagging.
The location is clickable and it provides some basic information about the place youâ€™re in. This is a great way for people to track your movements and see what youâ€™re up to.
Youâ€™ll also find that Facebook is the number one way in which you keep in touch with other people you meet on the road. Just remember to edit your privacy settings otherwise people may not be able to either find you or send you a friend request.
I also find that words on a page donâ€™t really convey what itâ€™s like to be in a place so Iâ€™ll normally sum up parts of my trips with YouTube videos. These are really easy to put together and I donâ€™t use anything fancy, just Windows Movie Maker. For Mac users, iMovie is also just as good, if not better, for putting videos together. Hereâ€™s an example from the sailing trip I just did.
Two great apps that I use for instant messaging whilst abroad are Whatsapp and Viber. Both of these apps tap into your address book contacts and you can message other users with the app for free. I use these apps also to send image updates of what I am doing and the things I am seeing to my parents. Itâ€™s quick and easy and allows them to feel connected to what youâ€™re doing. Viber also has the functionality to make calls through the app to other users provided you are on a WiFi connection. I sometimes find calling through Viber more stable than Skype.
Another app I love using is called Track My Tour.
This is a screenshot from the app and the tour I am currently tracking. I started in Canada and I am heading down to Antarctica. You can drop a pin on the map and include an image. Itâ€™s a great way of reminding yourself of names and dates of places you visited. Itâ€™s also a great way of visually portraying your journey for others to see.
Skype is a free piece of software that allows you to make voice and video calls. You can use it on a mobile device if you have the app and a laptop or PC. Being able to physically see the person you are talking to is fantastic, especially if you have been away for sometime. The only downside is that you need a fairly decent internet connection for a webcam conversation to work. my advice would be to slip away from the hostel (where everyone is sat on their iPhones drinking bandwidth) and head to an internet cafe or coffee shop. Yes it might cost you but itâ€™ll be quieter and you wonâ€™t have to deal with the conversation cutting out every thirty seconds.
In addition to Skype to Skype calls I also always have Â£10 credited to my Skype. You never know when you might have to call a landline back home or make an emergency call. Skype is relatively cheap to call landline numbers. Rebtel also offer cheap international calling services in addition to international texting.
For longer updates or messages of a personal nature, e-mail is still a classic. Consider having a mini distribution list on you e-mail client (check that people want to receive your e-mails first!) and you can write to your hearts content.
To share your updates with friends, and for a budding writer or photographer, the world, why not consider setting up a travel blog. I set up my blog back in 2009 and 4 years later I am still travelling and still blogging. Check out the first ever post I wrote on Gap Year Escape. Nothing ground-breaking but we all have to start somewhere. For a free and simple solution to start blogging and sharing your stories check out WordPress.
A bit old school for some but thereâ€™s something about putting pen to paper and setting that letter or postcard off on its journey. Sure you never know how long it will take and the information about your trips progress will b obsolete by the time it arrives, but itâ€™s all about how far itâ€™s travelled. The foreign stamp, the accidental smudge, the smell of it and the time you took writing it.