This blog post was updated on October 11, 2018.
Travelers today have a lot to be thankful for, particularly when it comes to staying connected with friends, family and the office while on the road. Those days of telegrams and long distance calls are behind travelers. Now there is an app to help you stay in touch while you travel at little to no cost. Here are four apps to try on your next adventure to help you stay connected.
Viber: If you simply can’t be out of touch from your friends and family while abroad, Viber could be the app for you. The app is pretty simple. It allows you to make phone calls abroad and send text messages without a big cost. There are a few catches however. While the Viber app can help you send free text messages and make free calls, you must do so on Wi-Fi to completely embrace the “free” element. While Viber works over 3G, depending on your data plan, this might incur charges for you. Also, in order for Viber to work, the person you are trying to connect with must also have Viber. This isn’t so much of a problem as Viber is free. It works on some Android versions, the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 along with the iPod touch and the latest version of the iPad.
Whatsapp: Cleverly titled, Whatsapp helps you stay connected while traveling by allowing you to message with friends without paying for the SMS costs. Available for the iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia, Whatsapp uses your Internet plan that you use for email and web browsing to make it possible to send messages for free. Travelers can also send unlimited images, video and audio messages through Whatsapp. Like Viber, the messages aren’t free if you are roaming. It is best to use the app on Wi-Fi to avoid the fees. Whatsapp is free for one year for users of phones besides the iPhone, but incurs a yearly charge after the first trail year. Whatsapp for the iPhone charges a one time cost that users can use in an unlimited fashion.
HeyTell: If you prefer to stay in touch by way of a walkie-talkie type app, HeyTell is the app for you. The app functions as a voice messenger, allowing you to either leave voice messages or instantly chat with friends and family. While the person on the other end of the tin can and string must be a HeyTell user, this way of messaging is much more simplified. You can start the app, choose a contact and start talking pretty easily. This is a good app for someone that doesn’t like to text and would rather just send voice messages. HeyTell is free for the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.
Wi-Fi Finder by JiWire Inc.: The trouble with travel apps designed to keep you connected is that they often don’t keep you connected for free unless you are on a Wi-Fi connection. Many are costly if you don’t use them on Wi-Fi. Hence, you will need the Wi-Fi Finder app by JiWire Inc. in order to seek out those places where you can talk and text for free. The app details around 500,000 free and paid Wi-Fi hotspots in over 144 countries. What I like about this app is that I can categorize the Wi-Fi spots I want. The app lets you select free or pay Wi-Fi locations along with where they are located from cafes to hotels. Information is also provided as to how to reach the Wi-Fi wonderland with complete directions and a phone number for the site. The app works on the Android, iPhone and iPad and comes at no cost.
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