Society & Culture
Affordable Ways to Stay Connected with Friends & Family While in Spain
By Cailin Kearns
Jun 7, 2007, 08:12

Below are our recommendations on how to best keep in contact with people back home while in Spain:

By Telephone

Basically, there are three options by phone:

- Finding a phone shop (locutorio)
- Buying a phone card for pay phones
- Purchasing a cell phone

If you choose to go to a locutorio (this is a type of Internet cafe where you can make international calls, use the Internet and send faxes at good rates (somewhat like Kinko’s, but cheaper), make sure that you ask for the rates if they are not clearly specified before you make your call to make sure their prices are competitive.

Another option that allows for a bit more control when spending is to purchase a card for use on public phones. These cards are available in many shops and come in different increments of cost and call time, and are highly recommended for short term stays. One downside to using pay phones is that they’re becoming increasingly rare as more and more people use cell phones, but they’re still relatively easy to find.

The third option is to purchase a mobile phone or, if you’re able to use your own phone abroad, to purchase a SIM card for prepaid calling. Depending on how long you plan to stay in Spain, you also have the option of buying a card and setting up a contract. If you choose to use a prepaid card or contract, check out which company has the best rates for the type of calling/messaging you plan on doing.

By Internet

In Spain you won't have any problems finding cyber-cafes; in most cities you can find a good number of locations with varying operating hours. Also, your school or university is sure to offer free Internet access.

The Internet is the most flexible of communication options and offers plenty of ways to communicate with your family and friends back home. The traditional email or instant messaging (tell your parents that they can open an account for free!) is always a good way to maintain contact. MySpace and Facebook are becoming more and more popular and are great for checking out what's new among your friends and classmates.

A really cheap way to have voice conversations through the Internet is with Skype. You can call from a computer to another computer for free, and calls to land-based phones are extremely cheap (calls to cell phones aren’t that well priced).

Some people decide to purchase a SkypeIn line, which gives you a fixed number where people who don’t use Skype can call you (calls can be received on your computer, and this option comes with free voice mail). This costs around 15 Euros for three months and 50 Euros for a yearly subscription. Yahoo! also offers a similar service called Yahoo! Voice.

Other good ways to keep people back home updated on what’s going on in your life is to maintain an online blog and/or photo album that sends alerts to your readers each time an update is made. Some sites, like, make it easy to start your own blog, share photos and more.

By Mail

If you are going to stay for only one or two weeks and the previous options don't seem worthwhile to you, you can always resort to traditional letters and postcards. The downside to this is that postal service to international countries is slower, so you could actually beat your mail home!

In Spain you can find stamps at your local Correos (post) office or in estanco shops; stores that primarily sell tobacco, but also offer products like stamps and magazines.

By Telepathy

Although this is a skill that takes a lot of time and practice to master, it is by far the cheapest and most effective option to keep in contact with family and friends at a distance. Read up more out more about this fantastic form of communication at:

Cailin Kearns lives in Malaga, Spain and works for UniSpain, a company that sets up language programs for people wanting to learn Spanish in Spain.

© Copyright 2007 by & Cailin Kearns