Family overseas? Here’s how you can stay in touch this holiday season
‘Tis the season for sunshine, gift-giving and spending quality time with the family. Of course, every year it gets a little harder to bring everyone together… It seems like someone’s always visiting the other side of the family or travelling abroad.
You want to be able to pick up the phone and give them a call to wish them a merry Christmas, but international calling can be confusing (and expensive).
Fret not! There are many cheap, if not free, ways that you can stay in touch with loved one this holiday season. Here’s what you need to know…
The trouble with international calling
International calls can get expensive quickly. While you can purchase a phone calling card, you still often have to pay a minimum rate of 5 cents per minute - and that can really add up when you’re trying to catch up on everyone’s latest adventures! Not to mention, a traditional phone call lacks video capability. And if you want to see their reaction to the present you’ve sent them, video is a must!
Fortunately, technology has plenty of inexpensive video chat options - many of them which are free. Let’s explore these now...
Cost-effective ways to stay in touch
Forget expensive calling cards. Check out these free calling and video applications instead.
Skype: This is one of the original telecommunications applications. It specialises in online video chat and voice calls which you can download right onto your computer or mobile device. If someones not online, you can also leave messages in the chat function for when they return.
FaceTime: FaceTime is designed mainly for mobile so it’s more convenient for chatting with family members who are on the go. Just make sure you’re phone is connected to the home WiFi so you don’t go over your mobile data cap!
Google Hangouts: The Google Hangouts feature is great if you already have a Gmail account (which is also easy to set up if you don’t already have one). It works similarly to Skype in that you can voice or video call right from your computer or smartphone if you have the application.
Tips for making the most of these applications:
If you have multiple globetrotters, set up a group chat so you can get the whole family together and have your Christmas lunch around the digital dining table. Just don’t forget to double-check time zones so you’re not trying to call anyone in the middle of the night!
And, communication doesn’t have to end once the video call does. Using apps like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp allow you to see photos of your family’s travels or leave messages when you’re thinking of them. You can also share updates of your own life - your family wants to know what you’re up to as well, after all.
Broadband fibre: The bow on top
If you’ve ever video chatted with anyone overseas before, you may have been frustrated with the buffering. Constant buffering is a quick way to end a chat early. However, it’s not the distance between devices that’s causing the delay - it’s the internet connection.
Fortunately, when you set your home up with fibre broadband, issues with buffering vanish. Fibre provides a reliable, consistent experience - and getting set up is easy.
First, head to the Chorus Broadband Checker to see if you can get fibre at your place. If you can’t, consider VDSL - that’s your next best option.
Next, talk to your service provider. They’ll guide you through the ordering and installing processes - they also send your order to us to help get you all setup. While you’re chatting with your service provider, make sure you ask for an unlimited plan of at least 100Mbps. That will allow you to chat without going over your data cap (which could end up costing you more money).
And that’s it! Now you’re ready to stay in touch with your family overseas this holiday season, and beyond. Merry Christmas!