How I Use Skype to Keep in Touch With Friends and Family

by Kate Lister on 28 April 2014 (1 comment)

Sponsored by Skype — Use Skype Credit to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.

“Yes! I got him,” yells Tom. “He was just about to shoot you.”  

“Keep it down?” I replied. “I’m on a call with our partners in Europe.”

This is how it goes in our house. Tom plays shoot ‘em up games with friends almost every morning. Skype is their secret weapon. Coordinating tactics as they fight on a virtual battleground gives them a leg up on the bad guys. A few blocks, several states, or whole countries away, buddies play online games and use Skype to add to the fun.

Tom isn’t my son. He’s my 68-year old husband. His buddy, who lives on the opposite coast, is equally ‘mature.’

Ours is admittedly a pretty geeky household. At last count there were 15 computer devices and 26 IP addresses scattered around our 2-bedroom condo near San Diego. We do work at home, so that’s our excuse reason for all the toys technology.

You probably know you can use Skype to make free voice and video calls to other people anywhere in the world. (I hate to admit it, but we even used Skype to video chat between the bedroom and office—25 feet away—when Tom was sick in bed for a week. Skype was a big help, and he promises he’ll get a flu shot next year.)

But did you know that Skype can also be an inexpensive way to make calls while on vacation? Geeks though we may be, we didn’t until we headed across the pond for a little R&R in Bonnie Ireland last Fall.

Using Skype for Work or Personal Calls While on Vacation

Just a couple of days into the trip I learned from an email that my favorite Aunt had passed away. It was very sad, but it was a huge relief to be able to call back to the States on Skype and talk to family; something each of my cousins said meant a great deal to them. Skype not only made that possible, but the calls cost just pennies a minute (and a small connection fee). Aunt Grace, born in the Depression era, would have appreciated that.

We used Skype, continually throughout that trip, to share the beauty of Ireland with friends and family while it was happening.  With the Skype app on our phone or computer, we were able to send live video from the Cliffs of Moher to friends and family back home.

Usually, we were able to make free Skype-to-Skype calls, but other times when all they had was a telephone, making a pennies-a-minute call (plus a small connection fee) was painless. It was fun talking to the grandkids, too—their Dad pointing out where we were on a globe as we talked.

On another international trip, we learned that our website was hacked and Tom spent endless hours working via Skype with the site developers in the Ukraine to clean up the mess.

Tom’s 90-year old Mom recently became a Skype enthusiast too. As the wife of a hospital administrator, she traveled the world. In 2013, she was delighted to reconnect with Paula, a Chiqué Indian in Guatemala she hadn’t seen in 60 years. As another child of the Depression, Mom was astounded that the call cost so little.

Staying in Touch Globally for Pennies

Skype has transformed how we work and play. Suddenly, global conversations are as easy as calling your closest neighbor. That really changes everything. It changes who we know, who we call friends, who we work with, and how we work.

The world is slowly waking up to this new reality. As often as I use Skype now, I’m still tickled every time I get off a video call with someone from a far off place that I would have otherwise never met.

Tom still thinks of the days, while back in the Navy, that a call from the Philippines set him back a fortune. If only Skype had been around in 1982, maybe ET would have been able to “phone home” too.

Kate Lister is president of Global Workplace Analytics, a San Diego-based research and consulting firm focused on helping global businesses and communities understand the business case for flexible and remote work.

Sponsored by Skype — Use Skype Credit to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.

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Ed Reames

Don't forget about Google voice. We use it for local and LD calls (we have no LD supplier and our local calls via our DSL provider would cost 10 cents a minute) , SMS and as a way not to have to give someone our personal phone numbers.