It used to be the case that the only reliable method of communicating with people back home when you were on holiday abroad was the humble postcard. This would invariably have a short message hastily scribbled on the last day of the holiday, before being shoved into the nearest mailbox to arrive at its destination several weeks after you’d returned. And that was if you were lucky; very often it never showed up at all. Fixed line telephones were prohibitively expensive, not to mention unreliable and often hard to find.

Even with the advent of mobile phones, the costs of making international calls were high, thanks to expensive roaming charges that made you paranoid about even switching your phone on. One tactic was the reverse call trick, where someone made a reverse call home. When the operator rang to ask if the person back in the UK would accept the charges, they would say ‘will you accept a collect call from’ and then leave a few seconds for you to say your name.

Money-conscious people perfected the art of cramming an entire message into these few seconds such as ‘HiMumHavingAGreatTimeSendMoneyLoveYouBye’ before simply hanging up at no cost.

Roll forward to today and we find ourselves living in a time when VOIP or Voice over Internet Protocol, is becoming ubiquitous and is allowing those on holiday to remain connected like never before. You don’t have to tell someone you wish they were here – you can video call them and show off that perfect beach or tropical rainforest while trying not to sound too smug about the fact that it’s raining again back at home. Just remember to check the time difference before you call.

VOIP connects you like never before

The power of VOIP means that provided you have a reliable internet connection, calling someone is free or very close to being free. In the far east especially, free WiFi is becoming an expected part of everyday life. Hong Kong, for example, not only offers free WiFi in most of the major shopping malls and tourist attractions, but you can also connect for free on the shuttle which links the airport to Hong Kong island itself. You can use the train journey to update people back home, look up the latest news, contact your hotel and even call to book into a few of the hottest, trendiest restaurants before you’ve even arrived in the city.

Helping you work hard and play hard

More and more apps within our smartphones are offering VoIP powered calling as standard. From the now venerable Skype to Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, there are more ways than ever for you to call people, no matter where you – or they – are in the world. Of course, if you are a frequent business traveller and require a reliable and consistent service rather than just relying on WiFi, you may wish to look into professional VoIP services such as those provided by specialists including IDT.

If you’re working while you’re on holiday, VoIP offers the benefit of being able to essentially take your office with you, as your work number travels wherever you do, and you can be reached by phone, PC or tablet if the need arises. While this might not sound like the most relaxing holiday, knowing that you can quickly plug back into the office if needed can help managers relax, and means that firms are more inclined to be flexible in the timing of holiday leave.

Imagine the scene. You’ve planned your perfect two week trip to Hawaii, paid for it and are packed and ready to go. Suddenly the boss appears at your desk and announces that the big voice conference call with the new client, the one that you absolutely have to attend, has been moved forward to right in the middle of your holiday. With a VoIP powered phone, there’s no need to worry. Simply set aside a few hours one day to call in on your regular number via the hotel WiFi and the client won’t even know you’re not in the office.

Of course, it’s not just the summer holidays where VoIP offers significant benefits. Peak times including Christmas and New Years Eve place an incredible strain on the telephone networks, as anyone who has ever tried to ring a relative in Australia or New Zealand to wish them a happy new year can testify. With a VoIP connection, you can get in touch easily, with less risk of encountering issues due to traffic volume.

It’s also a useful technology for parents, with teenagers increasing going off on gap years or volunteering abroad. Gone are expensive top up cards and inefficient bank transfers. VoIP communications allow you to keep in touch with your offspring far more easily and cost-effectively.