The Most Difficult Part Of Long-term Travel | Lost With Purpose
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What’s the most difficult part of long-term travel?
It’s not the endless hours in transit. It’s not the need to plan your next steps every other day. It’s not the perpetually dirty clothes, living out of a backpack, or rock solid beds. It’s not even the need to constantly sleep through the incessant snoring of the guy in the dorm bed next to yours (that’s second).
In fact, the most difficult part of long-term travel isn’t even the travel itself: it’s the struggle to keep up with those you left behind.
The most difficult part of long-term travel
Initially, it doesn’t seem so difficult. We have Skype and Facetime to make video calls, Facebook and Instagram to creep on our friends, and Whatsapp and Viber and Telegram to send (too many) silly emoji-laden messages back and forth. It’s kind of like hanging out with each other, right?
It is… until the times that matter. In the past months, I had to console a close friend that had just broken up with her boyfriend through Facebook Messenger. I tried to Skype with my ailing grandfather, but he has yet to grasp the concept of video calling—he thinks he’s just looking at a photo of my face. My best friend’s mother was dying, and thanks to some terrible wifi, all I could do was send her consolatory Whatsapps. At least they were voice messsages. Showed extra sincerity, ya know?
And I’m privileged to have all of these (inadequate) options in the first place. I’m a backpacker on a tight budget, but I still have a smartphone and a budget big enough to afford sim cards with data in each country I travel to. Not everyone can afford data… or even a phone capable of doing anything but calling, texting, and playing Snake. Even if they can, there’s no guarantee they understand how to use it, or have the data signal to do so.
As we traveled through Pakistan, we witnessed this firsthand. We met goatherds using old plastic phones so worn down you could hardly read the numbers on the keys. 8-bit Nokia ringtones of yore rang in our ears as buses rumbled down the road. People with smartphones only used them for calling and selfies, connecting to the internet only when wifi was available. Seeing the little “E” for Edge was actually exciting in the north. Mobile service stands were all over the cities, installing smartphone apps for users that didn’t understand how—or that didn’t have a bank account to link to an app store.
E.T. phone home?
Many of these people had family and friends working overseas. Upon hearing we’re from America and Europe, they’d tell us of their cousin running a shop in the Netherlands, or a brother raising a family in the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin. I would smile and listen, all the time wondering: If I already struggle to stay in touch with all of my fancy smartphone apps, how could they possibly manage with their old school phones?
The answer is simple: calling!
… well, it’s theoretically simple. In practice, it’s complicated and time consuming.
International calling is expensive, and often paid for by those overseas. Many of you readers know the drill—you first wire money through a transfer service for a hefty fee, then your family has to pick up the transfer somewhere, head out to a local convenience store, and buy more phone credit to make a call. Not fun, not efficient… and it requires going out into the hot sun in many cases. Thanks, but no thanks.
So what’s the solution?
Luckily, there’s a service in town that eliminates all the struggle: Ding! You can use it to instantly send phone credit to your family and friends back home, no matter where they are.
Rather than waste money and time wiring money for calling (and selling your soul to Western Union in the process), all you have to do is enter a phone number, decide how much credit to send, and pay online with a card or PayPal. Done.
We’ve used it to send phone credit to our homies in Pakistan, and it was a breeze. It takes less than five minutes, it’s brilliantly designed (all I actually care about) and it works in 130 countries globally—Pakistan included! Plus, they’re celebrating their 10th birthday this year, so they’ve had the time to figure out exactly what you need and how to provide it.
Thousands of kilometers isn’t so far when it’s this easy to say hey to your loved ones. Why not try topping up their phone and checking in on them right now?