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While away travelling for any period of time you'll probably want to contact home and also to get news from home. These days this is increasingly easy with the rise of the internet the world over. Use of the internet is covered in the travelling internet page. This page looks at the more traditional methods of communicating from overseas.

Post Service

Sending Mail

The postal service has been around for a long time and in most countries is very reliable especially if you send your mail from a large town or city. The further away you go from the main towns the slower the post will be to get home. In general if you are heading towards a larger town then post your mail from there rather than from where you are as you may well travel quicker than your mail. Towns with airports also tend to be quicker as the mail is usually collected from the local area and then flown to the capital. The time it takes for a letter to arrive home will vary on all sorts of things but usually two weeks seems to be the worse case for a first class airmail letter.

Receiving Mail

Most main post office in cities have poste restante this is basically a holding service for mail. There is often a charge for picking up your mail and this may vary depending on the size. You may also need some proof of identification such as your passport.

In some places the counter clerk may give you the mail to search through for your self or in other places they may search for you. The mail will be held in alphabetical order and you should check for your mail under your surname and first name initials as there are often mistakes. If you are sure that there should be mail for you then check through everything, this can be a problem if the clerk is having to look through as they may feel you are wasting their time. Either slip them a small bribe or come back on several days each day going through a different batch. If there are more than one of you then this is easier.

To send a letter to a poste restante follow the following format.

Fred Bloggs
c/o Poste Resterante
Main Post Office

Obviously you should try and check out that a city has a poste restante but even if you can't find out most capital cities will have Poste Restante services.


Don't rely on the normal postal service for sending or receiving packages. If you are sending or receiving gear especially if its worth something the best bet is to wait till you hit a large town or city and find a reputable international carrier such as Federal Express or DHL.


Phoning home is usually relatively simple as in most towns you will find at least one telephone bureau this might be in the main post office but you're just as likely to find privately run ones. In cities you will may find phone boxes.

For phone boxes and some phone bureaus you will probably need to get a phone card usually available from post offices or even street stalls. It is worth checking that the phone you're about to get a card for will allow you to make international calls as sometimes you can only make national calls from them.

From phone bureaus especially private ones you get charged for the length of time you use the phone for. This may sound obvious but often there is no indication of how long you have been on the phone or the cost your running up. The best approach is therefore to get a rough idea from the owner of the cost, then to decide how long you wish to talk for and ask to be cut off after that time.

Make sure you know the international code for where you're calling to and try and keep track of any national number changes at the country you are ring. Certainly in the UK over the last year there has been a lot of code changes and if you've been on the road for several months you may not realised that the numbers have changed.

Remember to check out any time zone differences and try and find a time when the people you want to contact are at home not at work.


Fax is an excellent way of communicating when on the road. One of the main advantages is you can write it over a period of time and put down you're thoughts clearly and precisely this is especially import if you're trying to get vehicle parts sent out to you. The other advantage is that it offers the immediacy of a phone call. Most fax bureaus will send and receive faxes for you. The only down side is that the person you are contacting obviously needs a fax machine although there are ways around this. Some email systems allow you to send a fax to an email address, find a fax bureau before you go at home and get then to phone the recipient should a fax arrive, or some mobile phone companies now also offer fax facilities and finally find someone with a fax machine at work.

K.Vans-Colina 1992-2002