Staying in Touch When You’re Halfway Around The World

The time difference between Toronto and Seoul is 13 hours. I can truthfully say that I live halfway around the world, but in spite of the 10,590 kilometers that separate my cute little studio apartment from my parent’s home, I don’t feel like I’m very far away. That may in part be due to my independent wandering streak as well as the new friends I’ve made here, but the whole process has certainly been made easier by all the communication available out there!


Nothing tops seeing your family (or dog!) on video when you’re living halfway around the world. Skype dates are a weekly occurrence for me, and I love that my family gathers around the computer to listen to my tales of eating eel, getting scammed, and making new friends. Don’t they all look great spending Sunday night in their pajamas?


Postcards are nostalgic. Few things brighten up my day more than finding a postcard peeking out of my mailbox. They have the ability to transport me to whatever distant land or exotic capital my friends may be visiting. Leipzig, Paris, Melbourne, Stockholm – I got so many good ones this past year! And to return the favour, whenever I find myself trapezing across a new land, I like to plop myself in a quiet cafe with a great view and write to my friends and family about the city unfolding before me.

Phone Cards

Not only are phone cards great for phoning your loved ones, but they have also gotten me out of many a mess. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve arrived at a bus terminal or train station only to realize that my cell phone is dead, or even worse, it was left behind in the other city! Or the many occasions when I’ve waltzed out of arrivals at the airport only to discover that I don’t have a single quarter on me to call the house. All true. I learned my lesson after a few such incidents and started keeping a phone card in my wallet instead.

Tweets and Wall Posts

I’ll admit I spend far too much time on Facebook and Twitter, but what is great about these two means of communication is that you can message back and forth about your daily happenings no matter how silly they may be. With email I always feel like I need to write a structured message that has a point to it, but with Facebook and Twitter I can leave my sisters the randomest updates like “Sistah, I just drank a bottle of sweat!” and it’s perfectly acceptable. (Not as nasty as it sounds. Pocari Sweat is a Japanese sports drink!)

Make them Visit

And when these methods are not enough, I try to lure my family (hi mom and dad!) to come visit me in whatever part of the globe I happen to be passing through. Those close to me can attest to my ability to google postcard shots of a destination and sell it as ‘the next vacation spot’. Cough, cough – the Andaman Coast.

So there you have it. That’s how I make the distance seem a little bit smaller.

How do you keep in touch with your loved ones?


  • Jill says:

    I think you’re much better at staying in touch than I am!

    I always hear how great Skype is but it’s not permitted in the UAE so I’ve only used it a few times. (It’s technically illegal here but if you download it outside the country and use a VPN it seems to work for people. I had it but when I had my computer worked on they uninstalled it.)

    I’ve used Apple’s Face Time in the past few months but lately it hasn’t been working. There’s nothing more frustrated than looking forward to seeing your best friend and have your calls not even register on each others devices.

    I’ve had my mom, my sister, and a good friend visit and it was so much fun. It makes you realize just how much you’ve adjusted to a new life and new surroundings. Plus, it helps that they’ll get a better idea of all those things that you’re struggled to explain!

    Overall, blogging and email tend to work best for me.

    But I’ll be going home for the summer in 1 month and couldn’t be more excited!

    Great post. Long comment!
    I love Postcards too! I always make it a point to print out a list of addresses to take with me on trips. I really love sending them to my grandparents in particular.

    • Jill says:

      Um, not sure why the postcard part of the comment appeared at the bottom. Pretend it’s not! 😉

      • thatbackpacker says:

        I love long comments! 😀

        That’s so strange that Skype is blocked in the UAE! I’m curious as to what the reason behind that is… The thought of not having Skype makes me realize how much I depend on it. And I agree, blogging is a pretty good way to keep everyone updated. I’m always surprised when distant relatives drop by for a read.

  • Skyyyyype! Love it. Don’t need nothin’ else! 😉

  • Nomadic Samuel says:

    I honestly couldn’t imagine travel without Skype!

    • thatbackpacker says:

      Seriously! How did people function without it a decade ago?! Now a long journey no longer seems like ‘farewell’.

  • Zhu says:

    Skype is awesome. I bought an unlimited subscription to France for $3.95 (I think… exact amount?) a month. I don’t use video much and mostly call on landlines because it’s often more convenient for my family, but you can’t beat the price for unlimited calls.

    Some time differences are harder to deal with than other. I loved Australia/France because it was exactly 12 hours, if I remember correctly. Canada/France is 6 hours, not bad but I have to call before 6 p.m. and it can be challenging some days when I work.

  • Steven Taylor says:

    Just today we had a skype date with us in Chile, my mum and sister in England and my Dad in Saudi Arabia. The joy of Skype!!! I think we should start a postcard campaign though to get that form of communication back on the up!

    • thatbackpacker says:

      That’s quite the skype date! It sounds like you guys are really spread out over the globe! 😀

  • Michelle says:

    Hey, I’m from Toronto as well! I don’t know how any traveller can exist without Skype, haha! It’s a total lifesaver, especially when I was in a long distance relationship. Facebook is great as well, but a lot of times I prefer postcards/snail mail…I feel like the physical presence of a postcard or a letter makes it a lot more meaningful!

  • Elle says:

    Skype and Facebook are my main source of communication while I’m away. Facebook is perfectly convinient but there’s nothing like seeing your loved ones face on Skype when you’re feeling a bit homesick.

  • Jessica says:

    I would definitely say Skype is the most amazing thing ever. My husband and I are planning very long term travel starting in Jan 2013, so I have started prepping family and friends to download Skype on their phones and computers so we can stay connected. My mom and I are very close and used to talking on the phone pretty much every day , and although she isn’t very technologically savvy I have been grilling her to get Skype so that we can talk/video chat for free when ever we want. I love that even though I might be halfway around the world I can still see my family and be a part of my nephews and nieces lives!
    Jessica recently posted..Hiking at Grapevine LakeMy Profile

    • thatbackpacker says:

      My parents had to learn how to use Skype as well, but now they are pros! It really is such a great way to stay connected, and they can always skype you in for celebrations and big family events. 😀

  • Gezi Rehberi says:

    I use usually MSN, but now I must use Skype, after this month. I have sent just 3 post card while I was travelling over 2 years. Now tech is best way to communicate and connect with people.
    Gezi Rehberi recently posted..Sarong Nedir?My Profile

  • ashree says:

    Nice family you have in Skype. Bet it’s second to none to see them while you’re away right? I also keep Skype in my top list, even I am Skype-ing with my husband at work! I love postcards as well, the old-fashioned way never fail me. Good post!


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