Staying in Touch Abroad

keep-calm-and-keep-in-touchStudying abroad is about getting to know YOU while experiencing new things. But this means that it can be a huge break from what’s familiar. In this posts you will find 10 apps, websites and other online tools to help you stay in touch with family and friends, make travel plans while your abroad and reflect on your journey once you return home (eventually).

1. WhatsApp

This app allows you to text/message others with the app for no cost. All you need is a connection to the Internet in order to send or receive messages, which is great if you don’t want to spend money for international texting capabilities. You can also send photos or videos through the app, share a contact, share your location or even send an audio note, which lets you record and send a voice message.

2. Skype

This app on your laptop or phone let’s you call other computers or people with this app for free, BUT it also lets you call people’s phones when you buy Skype credit. Perfect when you have to call your grandma to wish her Happy Birthday without it costing a fortune (to call a landline from your computer costs you around $0.02 per minute!!)

3. Skyscanner

Skyscanner is a free flight-comparison website. You can also look at hotels and car rentals. Prices are checked daily and you can even sign up for a price alert emails if you want a more constant source of information. The site allows you to compare not only prices but also times or airlines to get a comprehensive overview of flights without doing extra research. My favorite part of this website is that you don’t have to put in a specific destination. For example for Springbreak I wanted to go anywhere in the US, so I put in my departure airport and put as destination USA (everywhere), this is one way to keep your life an adventure!

4. Converter Plus

This app is a lifesaver when it comes to doing multiple conversions. Through the app, you can convert almost any type of unit including currency, temperature, weight, volume, speed, pressure, length, mass, area and many more. The exchange rates are refreshed automatically every six hours for over 167 countries. The app also has a built-in standard calculator and a tip calculator.

5. Touchnote or Postagram

While there’s definitely a place for special handwritten postcards, Touchnote and Postagram are awesome for sending out postcards or greeting cards to a lot of people very quickly. You can upload your own pictures, write a message and fill in the address information. It ships automatically from the site. There’s no hassle in buying stamps and finding a post office, and friends and family will love seeing a picture you’ve taken on a postcard.

6. Hostelworld

Hostelworld is the place to look if you are interested in doing any type of traveling while abroad. Each hostel is given an overall approval rating and also a breakdown in terms of character, security, location, staff, atmosphere and cleanliness. You can read recent reviews of past guests as well. The website requires a 10% deposit and the rest is paid upon arrival. The site also has reviews of local tours and attractions, in addition to travel videos, podcasts and pocket guides to various cities.

7. WordPress

If you are planning on keeping a blog for family and friends back at home, WordPress is a great option. You can easily set up a feature to allow users to sign up to follow your updates by email. Posting pictures is a breeze and commenting is easy to figure out, especially for parents and grandparents. Statistics are also available to let you know how many visitors your blog receives, what links are being clicked on and the posts that are most popular.

8. WhereToGo

Finding your way around a new city, let alone a new country, can be scary. This is why the free to download WhereToGo app is an extremely useful tool when studying abroad. If you need to find a bar, supermarket, pharmacy or train station, WhereToGo offers you a way. It works anywhere in the world and has 500 location categories, meaning you can find pretty much anything. Not only is it extremely useful, but it is clear and easy to use, with turn-by-turn directions leading you to your chosen destination. And for those students who want some unpredictable exploration in their new city, it has a Shake-to-Suggest feature. This chooses a popular destination in your area at random and really lets you experiment with your new surroundings.

9. Kindle and Nook

The Kindle and Nook app are great for research and reading. Both are available to download for free and have a large book collection, with over 1,000,000 books in its library (a lot of them are free!!).

10. Facebook

An easy choice, your already on Facebook, so why not use it to share your experiences with your family and friends back home. Tagged pictures and status updates allow you to let the people back home know what is going on in my life.

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