As your pride and joy jets off on a gap year around the globe, parents often find it a bit of a struggle to get hold of their son or daughter during their travels. Although its reassuring to hear from them, remember that they are probably getting quite caught up in the incredible gap year adventures and experiences that they are having, so don't panic and immediately assume the worst if they don't get in contact when you expect them to. They are bound to be back in touch when they get a spare moment, or a phone or wi-fi signal!
There are many ways of staying in contact with your son or daughter during their gap year, some of them cheaper and easier than others. It's best to (realistically!) agree on how often they will contact you while they are away. It could be that you decide on once a week contact via text or email, a phone call every month or agree that they drop you a line whenever they decide to move onto a different destination. Make sure you make a mutual agreement about keeping in regular contact before they travel, so you both know what to expect.
One of the most popular ways of staying in touch is through using a roaming SIM card, which can be set up to be used in one or several different foreign countries. It's probably best for them to take a cheap mobile or buy one when they're out there as anything expensive will undoubtedly get damaged, lost or pinched. Many networks now have special packages or options for when travelling abroad, so make use of these as an international phone bill is not usually well-received. Foreign pay phones are generally best avoided as not only are international rates extremely expensive, you'll probably only get an earful of crackly background noise.
Another option is to stay in touch via email or social networking site, as most main travelling destinations, especially the big cities and towns, have internet cafes that can be used fairly easily and inexpensively. Many hostels have wi-fi access, and it might be worth your son or daughter taking a laptop or tablet, or linking to wi-fi with their smartphone. Email and social networking sites such as Instagram, Twitter or Facebook are a great way to stay in touch as they are quick and free, but don't expect long, descriptive passages on the great adventures of their gap year, just a short and reassuring catch-up. As well this, your son or daughter can upload photographs of their travels meaning you get to see some of the great things that they are up to.
Due to the popularity and availability of internet cafes, your son or daughter could even set up travel blog, which is basically a web page that they can use to write about their travels and upload pictures onto. It acts like an online diary and is a great way of catching up with where they are and what they are doing. On a travel blog they will probably go into more detail than if they are simply emailing you. As the pages are public, friends and family can also have a look, and it might even inspire others to go travelling. The blog can be added to and edited along their travels and it's a brilliant way for them to record their journey. As well as this, they can print off the pages they have returned and keep it as a memoir to look back on in the future. You could even set up your own blog to reply to theirs, swapping stories and photographs online, so it's a great option for both of you.
Whichever method you decide on as the best way of keeping in touch, with a bit of pre-planning and cooperation, staying in touch with your son or daughter whilst they are away shouldn't be difficult. Just remember to trust them and give them a bit of leeway as travel plans do have a habit of changing. One way or another, you can be sure that you'll soon be hearing all about their incredible experiences abroad!