Pre-Planning Communications Abroad

A question we have repeatedly been asked is how Tracy and I plan to stay in touch with family and friends back in the States after we relocate to Italy.

We are planning to make maximum use of today’s communication technology.  We won’t have cash flow to make frequent trips make to the US, so we plan to stay in touch through the constantly evolving technology.  The cost of international phones calls and the nine hour time difference the west coast can make traditional telephone calls problematic.

SOCIAL NETWORKING:  Tracy and I started this WordPress Blog with the principle goal of staying in touch with family, old friends, and new friends we will make.  We wanted a central platform to journal our new lives, share travels and events, post photography and communicate.  We will also create “An Italian Point of View” FaceBook page and link it to this blog to mirror the posts and provide an easy second method of access for FaceBook users.  FaceBook Chat allows us real time communication when we and another person are online at the same time.  A third access method is to link the Blog postings to Twitter so people know when we have updated our Blog.

E-MAIL:  The Blog allows for an e-mail notice whenever there is a new posting to the Blog.  Tracy and I both have new G-mail addresses for traditional asynchronous e-mail.  Google Docs (soon to be Google Drive) allows us to create real-time, cooperative documents, like a vacation itinerary, that can be shared a with a friend planning to visit while updates and edits can be done on both sides of the Atlantic before their departure.

WEBCAM:  We have had good previous experiences using Skype and ooVoo for free video chats with family.  We hope to expand on that to see family and friends frequently and see the grandkids getting bigger over time.  G-mail also have a video chat service available that we want to explore more.  There is also a premium service from Skype and ooVoo that allows multiple participants in a video conference call that we intend to investigate.

WiFi:  Italian anti-terrorism and anti-mafia laws limits free WiFi Hotspots like we are used to in the States.  There are free and paid WiFi locations in Italy, but there is a more elaborate sign-in process. We will also have WiFi at our apartment, a MiFi system, or mobile WiFi cards for our laptops.  Broadband Internet is one “luxury” that we consider a necessity for our life abroad.  It is our key to staying in touch with family and friends in the US.

TELEPHONE:  Before leaving the US we will purchase an unlocked cellphone with an Italian phone number that we can share with family and friends in the event there is an emergency that requires that we be contacted immediately.  Cellular Abroad, sponsored by National Geographic, has unlocked cell phones available with the Italian SIM cards and a “pay as you go” payment option.  This is useful for us since we don’t plan to have much need for a phone in Italy immediately, but still need one for emergencies and business related calls.  Italian government agencies will often use phone text messaging for notifying clients.  Cellular Abroad provides its cell phone services through the Italian cell phone company, Vodafone, which provides phone service nationwide in Italy.  We don’t expect family and friends to pay international rates to chat on the telephone when video calls, text chats on the computer,  and e-mail is free, but we wanted the telephone option for an exceptional events, emergencies, and for our local use in Italy.

Ask us next year if these “best laid plans” worked as we intended.

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2 thoughts on “Pre-Planning Communications Abroad

    1. That’s mostly Alan, he’s the analytical one, I’m the creative so I bounce and dance through my list, his tend to be quite linier.

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