Gone are the days of penning letters or cutting calls short because of sky-high costs. The internet has opened up a daring new universe of staying in touch - from anywhere. Travel is more fun when you can share updates.
SKYPE (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry) Free
When travelling abroad, Skype comes in handy to stay in touch. Users can send instant messages, exchange files and images, send video messages and create conference calls. Skype is available for downloading onto computers running Microsoft Windows, Mac or Linux, as well as Android, Blackberry, iOS, and Windows Phone smartphones and tablets. Much of the service is free, but users require Skype Credit or a subscription to call landline or mobile numbers. Staying in touch is easy.
WHATSAPP (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry) Free
Whatsapp is the latest entrant in VoIP calling apps. WhatsApp Calling lets you call friends and family using the app for free, even if they're in another country. Currently, WhatsApp Calling is available on Android, iPhone and BlackBerry 10. The quality of calls seem alright, but not on the same level as dedicated calling apps like Viber and Skype.
GOOGLE HANGOUT (Android, iOS) Free
Google Hangouts link your existing Google account letting you view all Gtalk and Google+ contacts in one place. Start a hangout where you can message each other or use Google's video and audio calling feature. Hangouts also integrates well with other Google apps for iOS. You can turn a Hangout into a live video call with up to 10 friends. Good for conference-type interactions.
LINE (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry) Free
With Line, exchange free instant messages with friends either one-on-one or on group chats. This one's available for PCs as well if you don't want to finish all your mobile data. Voice and video calls with friends are free with LINE. You can make unlimited free calls to other Line users and send and receive text messages even when roaming.
VIBER (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry) Free
This one allows you to call or text national or international Viber users for free. Not everyone in your group has Viber? 'Viber Out' is a new feature that lets you call landlines and non-Viber users at low rates, helping you connect across the globe. If you'd like to pay VoIP calls to landlines and other mobile users, this is your go-to feature. Viber Out calls will cost you, but they start at 1.9 cents per minute and vary depending on the country you're calling. Viber is also cross platform, with apps for Android, iOS and Blackberry.