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Keep In Touch With Our Favorite Apps

Posted by Emily Cummings on 1/24/20 11:29 AM

Volunteer with ILP in Europe

Data plan or no data plan, there are tons of ways to stay in touch with friends and family while you're abroad. 

Even though you'll be busy having the time of your life during your semester abroad with International Language Programs (ILP), you're going to want to take a break sometimes and talk to your friends and family. Whether that's a video chat home, sending pictures, or a quick text, there are tons and tons of ways you can stay in touch no matter where you are in the world.

And the good news? You're probably already using these apps anyways. 


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Many volunteers have an international phone plan (here's more about traveling with or without a data plan) so it's really easy to text friends anytime, no matter where you are. But if you don't, no problem because you can still keep in touch during times that you're connected to Wifi.

Another perk? Some of these messaging apps also have ways to track your location which is helpful for your parents who want to know where you're at.  Here are the most popular apps we use on WiFi (or on data) to keep in touch with people back home: 

Social Media Apps 

Snapchat

Snapchat is such a fun way to stay in touch during you semester with ILP. Sending quick videos back and forth to show off your day is awesome and can give your friends and family a glimpse into what your day is like as an international volunteer. If you don't use Snapchat, now could be a good time to start — plus there are now call and video chat features meaning you can basically text, call and video chat all from the same app. Yes, please. 

Your volunteer can share their location on Snapchat, so you can log into your account and go to the map and see exactly where they are. But the con is that everyone else can see their location, too. I would suggest this as only a last option but it's an option to consider. 

Download free on Android 
Download free on IOS 

Marco Polo

We also love the video-chat app called Marco Polo. You can film yourself hanging out and talking about your whole day and send it to a friend or a group of friends. The videos never go away (unlike Snapchat) so it's also a good way to relive your favorite conversations with your friends and family. We love this app! It's free and runs on data or WiFi which is also a huge plus. Now that I'm back from my ILP semester, I love re-watching my Marco Polos I sent to friends and family ... it's kind of like a video journal I can have forever. 

Download free on Android 
Download free on IOS 

Instagram 

Think Instagram is just for posting your stories and pretty pictures on your feed? This app also has a chat section where you can message back and forth, send pictures and videos, and you can even video call. 

Download free on Android 
Download free on IOS 

Messenger 

Run through Facebook, this is an app that you're probably already using. You can send pictures, videos, calls, messages, etc (you know, all the basics that work well to say "hi" with friends and family). It's pretty universal too, which is really handy for our international travelers out there. Another perk we love? You can create group chats so you can keep multiple people updated all semester long. 

Download free on Android 
Download free on IOS 

ILP Romania with ILP

Other Apps To Have 

Hangouts

Hangouts is one of my favorites too. All you need is a Gmail account, so if you already have a Gmail email then you're just going to connect through that. Then, download the app.  You can message, voice call, and video call anyone else who also have a Hangouts account. All for free while you're connected to Wifi. No international data plan? No problem for Hangouts.

Head's up — if you'll be living in China, you'll need to avoid all things Gmail unless you have a VPN. More on that here

Download free on Android 
Download free on IOS 

Skype

Skype is a classic that works well no matter what your budget is.  You can download it on your computer or get the app on your phone. For it to be completely free, just make sure whoever you are wanting to talk to has it as well. Skype is nice because you can call multiple people at the same time for a sort of party call. Not only can you use Skype for video calls, but for a small fee you can set it up to make calls to someone's phone for voice call. That's great to have if you want to get a hold of someone fast.

Download free on Android 
Download free on IOS 

Volunteering in Romania with ILP

Apps You'll Want While Abroad 

Certain countries really operate on certain messaging apps, so depending on where you're going in the world, you may want to download one or two of these options:

WhatsApp 

This is kind of like the world's messaging app, so you'll want it if you're traveling abroad. Again, you can message with your friends and family on the app, but you'll want to download it to message tour directors, companies, and local friends you meet while abroad. You can send pictures, videos, voice recordings, messages, etc — it's awesome. 

Download free on Android 
Download free on IOS 

WeChat

Going to China? You'll want a WeChat. WeChat is an app that allows you to make free calls and send free messages through an internet connection, similar to Skype. This one is super convenient because you can use it for messaging back and forth and it's really easy to figure out. With the ability to message, you'll be able to stay in touch really well. Your friends and family back home can also message you via WeChat, but if you make some local friends, they'll want your WeChat info. 

Download free on Android 
Download free on IOS

Line

Anyone going to Thailand? Everyone pretty much uses Line. It's similar to every other messaging app we have in this little section, where you can message, voice call, voice record messages, and take incoming calls. It's probably how you'll keep in touch with school staff you may be working with as an ILP volunteer and to keep in touch with any local friends you meet (friendly locals sometimes like to practice their English with you). 

Download free on Android 
Download free on IOS 

Volunteering in Thailand with ILP

For Friends + Family With iPhones 

If you have an iPhone and whoever you want to chat with has an iPhone (or an iPad or Mac) you're set. These Apple products already have a few messaging apps downloaded that work between other Apple Products. 

FaceTime

FaceTime is probably the easiest way to stay connected (as long as your friends and family also have iPhones). You can easily connect with them and you don't have to download anything additional onto your phone which is nice. This has been my go-to on all of my trips with ILP, especially since you can do an audio FaceTime which is basically like a phone call (and the classic video call). I sometimes found that my data didn't stream the video call quick enough, but I always could opt for an audio call. 

iMessage

If you have an iPhone and whoever you want to talk to has an iPhone you'll be able to text each other on iMessage. This app runs on WiFi or data, so you'll need to be connected to the internet if you're not going to have data while you're living abroad. 

Find My 

If you and your volunteer have iPhones, you already have the Find My app on your phone (but you can find similar apps for Android and Google - like Google +). All you have to do is share your location with each other and you can see exactly where they are at all times. 

This app also can keep track of your other Apple devices like your iWatch, iPad, or AirPods. Handy, right? 

ILP Europe

Have a few more questions about your international trip? 

Everyone who's working at the ILP office has volunteered for a semester abroad at least once, and can help you answer whatever you're wondering about. Let's stay in touch! 

 Text Me! I've Got Questions

Topics: All The Travel Tips, All About ILP + Volunteering

Hi!

We are ILP, a Utah based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

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