Nearly two decades ago, I began my first-ever backpacking trip. I was traveling to Australia to live and work there for a year. I had no laptop, no music device, and no phone.
This may sound baffling to backpackers today, but back then, mobile phones were only for businessmen, and “flashpacker” wasn't even a word.
The only option for calling home was to buy an international phone card from a local store and wait patiently in a long queue in an internet café to use the phone. Nowadays, you'd use a free app like NobelApp.
Or there was the alternative of locating a phone booth (remember them?) and making several attempts to dial before realizing that no one was even in.
Then I'd have to return to the only phone booth in town the following day to wish my dad a happy birthday.
The calls back home were few and far between; I would check in once a month to say I was still alive and give out my next destination.
Thankfully, things have come a long way since then, and the age of the smartphone has come to the backpacker's rescue.
No more looking for little stores, queuing in internet cafes, or hearing that dreaded beep when you were just about to run out of credit before you could say where you were.
Nowadays, our smartphone seems to be the one thing we can't travel without and is probably the backpacker's most prized possession on the road.
Most hostels no longer have computers, as travelers use their smartphones for Wi-Fi.
Buying a phone card today no longer means hunting for the nearest pay phone.
Instead, you can make calls straight from your smartphone, or with NobelCom, from your computer too, making for a cheap and easy way to call home.
International calls are now cheaper than ever. You can send international text messaging and even receive 24/7 support wherever you are.
Rates to call the United States start as low as 45 cents per minute and work from your smartphone using either Wi-Fi, your data connection, or access numbers.
Even if you don't have a smartphone, some international phone cards work with any phone, even landlines, and start from 90 cents per minute.
Staying in touch as a backpacker has never been easier. So, the next time you're traveling and need a cheap way to call home to wish your mom a happy Mother's Day, consider an app or phone card.
You could even call from the top of Ayers Rock to say “Merry Christmas.” The possibilities are endless when you can get connected from anywhere.
This story was brought to you in partnership with NobelCom.
Lisa Eldridge is a travel journalist specialising in solo travel. Her background in the travel industry fuelled her passion to see the world and for the last seventeen years, she has travelled extensively as a solo traveller, living and working in numerous countries. She has now been to 100 countries and 60 of these solo.