Whether you’re a van-dweller seeing the country through an RV or international traveler, island hopping or seeing the world through your travels, there are always people you wish you could reach out and hug or at least talk to from time-to-time. When you’re always on-the-go, it’s hard to keep in touch, but the following 10 communications apps for digital nomads will help you stay connected wherever you roam.
10 Communications Apps For Digital Nomads
When it comes to staying connected, we often think about our phones. So, before you start down this path of the best apps for digital nomads, make sure you read through my 4 Tips For Using Your US Cell Phone When Traveling Abroad.
Now, on to the 10 communications apps for digital nomads…
WhatsApp Messager is currently a free ad-free encrypted communication platform that allows users to send text, voice messages, and voice calls across the world. You can download the app on your phone and anyone with WhatsApp and your number can contact you. While right now, WhatsApp is amazing, but it may not be the future of WhatsApp.
As a digital nomad, it can be hard to stay connected. It’s easy to make communication “hard,” but with apps like WhatsApp and access to either decent wifi or local phone service, it’s pretty easy for digital nomads to stay connected around the world.
2. Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is Google’s communication platform. It’s, of course, one of Google’s many apps and it allows you to send text messages, voice messages, and conduct voice calls with up to 10 people at a time for free! You can also send group text messages with up to 100 contacts.
You can download a Google Hangouts app on your Android or iPhone and as long as you have wifi or data on your phone, you’ll never miss your family or friends on your digital nomad journey.
For the Apple aficionados, I was so excited to learn that FaceTime and iMessage work on data everywhere in the world! Yes! That means that I can keep in contact with my iPhone-using family and friends through my iphone, ipad, and mac! Yay!! We text every day. I send them pictures of my family and our life in China. We send each other video messages. We make data-based phone calls and we use FaceTime. While all of the FaceTime/iMessage tools are FREE, you have to buy at least one Apple product to enjoy them. So, is it really free?! Not really, but if you have the product, make sure to get full use of all the tools.
Skype is Microsoft’s solution to communication. With Skype, you can do text and video messages and you can conduct private video calls and group conference calls with up to 25 people, which is amazing! Plus, it’s free!
And with all of the other tools, you can find the app for Skype on your phone for download.
Ok, so Vonage is NOT an Apple, Skype, or WhatsApp data based App. It’s a VOIP phone service. The cool thing about Vonage is that you can plug it in wherever you are. It’s basically just a small little box that you plug into your modem and you plug a regular landline phone into the Vonage box. Then POOF! You can literally call anywhere in the world.
To date, I’ve used my Vonage line in the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, and Mainland China. I kept my US number so that my family could contact us easily AND I’ve been able to work with clients in Australia, Nigeria, Mauritius, and Burkina Faso.
On my phone! The rates barely made a blip in my bill. In fact, my call to Australia and Nigeria were free as part of my World Plan.
Vonage also has a cool application where you can have your calls forwarded to your cell phone from anywhere in the world. With Vonage, it’s all wins.
6. Magic Jack
Magic Jack is similar to Vonage. The device, itself, is smaller than a Vonage box. Magic Jack is the size of a flash drive while the Vonage device is about the size of your palm. With Magic Jack, you can keep your number and you can call the US and Canada for free.
VOIP Review says, “Vonage phone service offers free unlimited or capped minute (3.9￠/minute after cap) long-distance calling to anywhere in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico on its monthly calling plans. magicJack Internet phone service simply offers unlimited calls to the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.”
If you only want to make and receive calls from the US and Canada, Magic Jack may be a better selection but if you want World Plan calling, at a fraction of the cost of Magic Jack, Vonage may be a better option.
7. Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger has come a long way baby! You can now send texts, voice messages, and make calls to other Facebook Messenger users across the world. It’s a pretty nifty system.
And it’s one way to make new contacts from Facebook Groups and from various corners of the interwebs (and the world) where you may never physically meet anyone.
For instance, you can live in the US and meet someone living in Singapore on Facebook Messenger. You can become internet buddies but never meet until one of you takes a long-haul flight. Now, in some instances, this is the stuff of horror movies but it’s also now the way the world works.
Being a digital nomad means you could be an American in Thailand, chatting with a Canadian in Italy because you happened to meet in a Facebook group while you were both in London—but you never met because she flew out the day after you landed—and you still became friends.
And you stay connected through Facebook Messenger.
If you’re in Asia, Wechat is the best digital nomad app for you. With Wechat you can text, send voice memos, send videos, pictures, and make voice and video calls. And one of the many unique attributes of this app is its translation capability. It translates Chinese into English. So, it’s also a built-in translator for foreigners.
9. Marco Polo
Marco Polo is a video chat app. You can send video messages and have live video calls. Unlike FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts, Marco Polo is a specialized communication tool. It focuses on just video, which is fantastic for people who want to have one-on-one and group video calls and video messages.
Slack is another tool for digital nomads and anyone who works remotely. You can start using Slack for free and there are various pricing plans if you choose to upgrade. With Slack, you can create a team and manage your communications, using what Slack calls “channels”. You can share documents between individuals and among team members. You can also use Slack for face-to-face conversations and screen sharing. It’s a great tool for digital nomads who are also business owners or remote employees.
Finding the best apps for digital nomads requires a bit of trial and error. Communication tools for digital nomads are really quite important to leading a fulfilled life as a digital nomad.
In the comments, drop a note to me know if you have any additional insights into nomad apps or additional communication tools for digital nomads.