Expats know it, corporate travelers get it: keeping sane and happy when you travel for long periods of time means keeping in touch with friends and loved ones back home. The way we keep in touch has changed so much over the years. Once upon a time we had letters and expensive long-distance phone calls, now we have so many ways to keep in touch to choose from that it can be overwhelming!
At the CorporateStays.com offices, not only do we cater to international clients staying far from home, but we are ourselves an international group hailing from all around the world! For our article on keeping in touch with friends we didn’t have to look to far, we decided to ask our friends at the CorporateStays.com offices what applications and technology they like to use when keeping in touch with their friends and loved ones living far away.
Our favorite service for keeping in touch had to be Skype. Skype allows you to make free video calls to anyone with an Internet connection and a webcam the world over. Skype has a bunch of features and can be used on your computer, your tablet or your smart phone. If you don’t have a webcam on your computer you can hook one up, or simply plug in a headset and use the voice feature. Here’s what we had to say about it:
“I like Skype because I get to see my family and friends as though they were right in front of me! We have a great time organizing multi-conference video calls where we can all see each other and laugh together, even if we can’t always hear everything that is said since we often speak all at once and some of the conversation gets missed. I don’t mind it’s still so much fun! I think that it’s important to see the faces and reactions of my loved ones and video calls provides such a sense of closeness. You feel like you are near even when you are actually far away.” –Hanna Azaïz -Marketing & Communication Specialist
Facebook and Facebook Messenger
Whether you like it or not, you’re on it. Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with friends over long distances. You can keep updated with what your friends are doing by checking out their status updates, and you can easily create alerts for the friends you want to hear more about.
Facebook messenger allows you to chat with friends who are also on Facebook. It also lets you know you have a message, and lets you check your messages outside of the app. It is a separate application from Facebook, but it connects with Facebook messages if your friends do not have the app.
“I think that the master application of ’em all is Facebook! My friends and I sort of stalk each other, being sure to react to our respective status updates. This way it is easy to keep up with what everyone is up to when we’re all living in different places. Facebook messenger is great for quick updates or even long messages.” – Erika Degoute Marketing & Communication
Google Voice and Google Hangouts
Google voice lets you make voice calls from your computer to computer, computer to phone, or from phone to phone. Make free phone calls with Google Voice in Canada and the US and make international calls for very low rates. Google voice has other interesting features as well, like letting you choose one google voice number that will connect to whichever phone you want it to, and which remains the same if you move.
“I depend on Google Voice for cheap international calls right from my computer,” – Adrien O’Leary
Google hangouts lets you chat with friends who also have gmail accounts, send photos and videos, easily arrange group conversations, and video chat. Google hangouts lets you chat over all your devices and is completely WiFi and data based.
“Google hangouts” is a great chat application! All my close friends use Gmail (but I promise I don’t discriminate potential friends who don’t!)” – Erika Degoute, Marketing & Communication
WhatsApp is a cross-platform messaging service that lets you chat with other users without paying for SMS. When you download the app it automatically scans your contact list for other WhatsApp users and creates a contact list. It is a great app for chatting with friends who also use it, and it has a lot of users so chances are some of your friends are on it. WhatsApp is free for the first year, after which there is a subscription fee of $0.99 a year, but messages and photo texting is free.
“I use WhatsApp or Viber for texting – I have to use both, depending on which one my overseas friends use. “ – Erika Degoute
Like WhatsApp, Viber is a cross-platform messaging service that lets you chat with users all over the world for free, but Viber also has extra features. In addition to sending text, photo, voice, and video messages, you can even make high quality voice calls to other users. Viber also lets you check your messages on your computer as well as on your mobile device. Like WhatsApp, you are only limited by which of your friends are on the network.
So there you have it, from Skype to Facebook, Google Hangouts to Whatsapp, it’s never been easier to keep in touch with friends and loved ones when staying away from home for long periods, or even living internationally. Now it’s your turn to tell us: What’s your favorite application for keeping in touch?