February 25, 2013
Four Fab Ways To Keep In Touch
One of the questions I get asked about the most, as a long-term-ish expat here in Korea, and as a traveller, is how I keep in touch with my family and friends when I’m abroad. There are lots of great ways to stay in contact with loved ones, like a SIMSmart Pre Paid card so that you can make a call internationally without spending through the roof, the Internet, and good old-fashioned letters.
Gil Dong and I will be travelling together for the USA portion of my round-the-world trip, but after a couple of days in San Francisco, he’ll be hopping on an Asiana flight bound for Incheon, and I’ll be heading south to Bogota via Fort Lauderdale, and probably panicking because I’ll have under two hours for my connection (I usually like to leave a lot longer). Gil Dong and I aren’t breaking up any time soon (unless there’s something he’s not telling me), so naturally I’ve been thinking a lot about ways to keep in touch with him on the road. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far, and what I’d advise others to try.
The classic. Sure, the video chat function sucks – I live in South Korea, the country with the highest internet speed in the world, and everything is still super slow and delayed – but there’s more to the world’s favourite social networking site than that. Facebook is the main method which I’ve used to stay in touch with my family since moving to Korea, with everyone from my little brother to my Nana June (yes that’s right, my nana uses Facebook) having a profile. Most recently, Harry and I had a slanging match using quotes from the most recent season of RuPaul’s Drag Race – something that wouldn’t have been possible without Zuckerberg and company.
One mainly designed for couples with smart phones, Pair is a super cute app that’s designed for lovebirds who want something a little bit more private than Facebook and their own snuggly slice of bandwith. I think bandwith is the right word, but I’m not tecchy enough to verify that information. You can work on shared tasks, draw pictures for each other, or simply send a little, “thinking of you” message. Gil Dong and I both have it downloaded on our phones and have tested it here in Korea, and it’s won us over with its general air of warm fuzziness.
I’m a bit of a weird one when it comes to Skype. The only person I’ve ever used it to talk to is Gil Dong. Not my family, not my friends. Just Gil Dong. Don’t ask me why, because I have absolutely no idea. However, when it comes to video chatting, Skype is no doubt the best way to go by far. Sure, connections can be spotty sometimes, but it’s much better than any of the video chat alternatives offered by the likes of Facebook and MSN Messenger.
The free messaging app that has taken Korea by storm, I now use Kakao as a verb in the same way that many people use Google and Youtube. “I’ll Kakao you later!” “Someone just Kakao-d me!” “He didn’t Kakao me back. What a slag.” If you have it downloaded on your smartphone, you can message other users for free, send them voice messages, and utilise some of the free emoticon packs for when you just can’t be bothered to write words. You can also voice chat, and even alter your voice so with the ‘monster’ and ‘alien’ options.
So there you have it, folks! Now, I want to hear from you! How do you keep in touch with your loved ones while you’re on the road? Have you used any of the apps of websites here? Let us know in the comments below, or shout out on Facebook or Twitter.