Staying in touch with loved ones on their gap year needn’t cost the earth

We are often contacted by parents who have a son or daughter going overseas for their gap year. Gap years have become increasingly popular in recent years as school leavers decide to spend a year abroad exploring the world before they sign up for further education or enter the work place (in fact, the founders of 2Abroad were inspired by the horrendous cost of international calling on their gap years to launch DialAbroad).

We understand that gap years can be quite a concerning time for parents – after all, this is possibly the first time your son/daughter has been overseas without you there – and in this blog post we review the different services we offer that will allow you to keep in contact with your son/daughter cheaply and conveniently.

Which service you should use depends on whether your son/daughter is going to be staying principally in one country or travelling around. We have set out below some real world examples to illustrate how you may wish to use them.

Gap year in one country

If your son/daughter is spending time in one location, we would recommend purchasing a local pay as you go SIM on arrival and then using DialAbroad  to contact him/her. Get started with DialAbroad, check the rates and top up.

Example – Andy is travelling to Australia

Andy is going to spend the year as a teaching assistant at a school in Australia and we came up with the following solution:

  1. Cancel his UK pay monthly mobile phone. Andy was on Vodafone and at 85p/min to make a call and 70p/min to receive a call the costs were prohibitive. In addition, he was paying a monthly line rental of £25 pcm which it did not make sense to keep paying while he was overseas.
  2. On arrival in Australia, he purchased an Australian pay as you SIM and texted his parents his Australian telephone number. Andy was in a major city so he was able to top up his Australian pay as you go SIM with credit easily, but if he had been in a more remote location, we’d have suggested adding a decent amount of credit so that he would not run out (when credit runs out it is typically not possible to make or receive calls).
  3. Andy’s parents can use DialAbroad to make cheap calls from the UK to Australia, calling Andy on his Australian mobile from their UK mobiles for just a few pence per minute. It costs Andy nothing to receive the phone call on his Australian number.
  4. If Andy wanted to contact his parents he can use DialAbroad Australia to call cheaply to the UK. He could either purchase DialAbroad credit himself, or could use his parent’s DialAbroad PIN, so that Andy and his parents can even use the same credit.
Extra tips

To reduce costs even further, if your son/daughter has access to a landline in their accommodation or where they are working, etc. you can also use DialAbroad to call them on that number. eg. If Andy had had access to a landline in Australia, his parents could have called him for just 1p/min.

N.B. to use a local pay as you go SIM card, your son/daughter must have an unlocked mobile phone that is dual/tri/quad band (as appropriate). If you need assistance with phone unlocking or knowing whether your son/daughter’s phone will work at their destination, you can contact us for assistance.

Gap year in multiple countries

If your son/daughter is travelling to a country for more than a few days, and especially if they want to use mobile data etc. then it is likely going to be cheapest to purchase a local SIM in each country they visit. Normally a local SIM will cost around $5-$10, which is significantly cheaper than the $1 (or £1) per megabyte roaming data fees that home networks charge.

Example – Sarah is travelling Asia and North America

Sarah is going to spend six months of her gap year travelling around Asia and we came up with the following solution:

  1. Sarah had a UK pay as you go phone so there was not need to cancel this. In fact, we suggested that she speak to her mobile provider to make sure that international roaming was switched on and take her UK SIM with her as a back up for emergencies.
  2. Upon arrival in each country, Sarah check’s in at the local hotel/hostel and finds out where to purchase a local SIM. Often she’ll be able to get one straight from the hotel.
  3. When she gets her SIM up and running, she has a local phone number and a data connection. She can now email or instant-message her parents with her new phone number
  4. Sarah’s parents keep in touch by using DialAbroad to make low cost calls to her local SIM. For rates, they look up the country she is travelling in on the DialAbroad web site. See here for a complete destination list.
  5. Like Andy, when Sarah is in a country where DialAbroad also have a local service (eg. Australia, USA) then she can also call home cheaply.

Gap yah?

To end on a slightly lighter note, we thought the following YouTube clip was quite amusing – we wonder how much he was paying for his call?!?!


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Working out the cheapest overall way of reaching your son/daughter can be quite tricky so let us know what their plans are and we will come up with the most cost effective solution.

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