Many times on mission trips people struggle to stay in touch with loved ones. Honestly one of the biggest spending mistakes I have had happen on a mission trip was on phone calls. We had several devoted husbands on a trip in South America who rang up a $1500 phone bill calling home every night. They were using American calling cards to try to minimize expenses but were calling the US through the hotel’s switchboard and being billed $3 dollars a minute by the hotel. I think we all learned a valuable lesson on that trip about being careful on how different and difficult it can be to communicate while in a different country.
Here are some great options that I have found for communicating back home while abroad.
1. Email, blogs, twitter and Facebook.
I know these are almost no brainers today but I am always amazed by how helpful they are to keep large numbers of people connected with your team while you are abroad. Most hotels have free internet overseas so it is easy to keep people connected with what is going on on the trip by daily communicating through blogs and Facebook. On our last trip to Israel we had several people even tweeting and checking in on Facebook.
Skype allows you to do a couple of cool things. First of all it is free if you are connecting to someone else online either through voice or video. However you can also get a really cheap calling card option through it to call land lines and cell phones. There are other great options like skype out there as well like Face Time, Google Talk and Qik.
3. International calling cards, international phone plans and rent a phones
There are several options for calling cards and international phone plans. Many times you can get a roaming package through Verizon or ATT for about $30. Usually there is a limit to how much information you can download (usually about 20 MG) but you can use your iPhone or Blackberry that way while you are overseas. You can also get some calling cards through other online sites. I recommend http://www.nobelcom.com/ and http://callbacktoday.com/ . One thing I have seen be really helpful too is having a cell phone for use in the country you are serving in. I recommend http://www.mobal.com/international-cell-phones/. They will actually mail you a phone and assign you a phone number.