There is this temptation among travellers to cast off the weight of the world, unplug from the grid and just get lost for a while when they are on the road. It’s very appealing to just tell people ‘I can’t be reached’ and disappear for an indeterminate amount of time – stuff can wait, right? I mean, what could be so urgent that it can’t wait until you get back?
Well, a lot.
It’s never a bad idea to have cheap international calling services on hand when you’re traveling if for no other reason than emergencies that may require your attention. Maybe you have an elderly relative that suddenly takes ill and you should be informed. Many people will argue that death or illness has no bearing on your travels, and while this is stoically correct, you may come to regret being so selfish upon later reflection.
Another reason is if something goes wrong that involves you back home and that you need to contact someone or get some information to someone urgently. A business deal that falls through? The password to a safe deposit box with time sensitive materials? Something from the government that may impact your loved ones if you don’t reply? There are many things a simple phone call or email would solve but if you can’t be reached, it could result in a bigger problem with long lasting consequences that could have been easily avoided.
This isn’t to say that the only reason to keep in touch back home is to avoid the big old boogeyman terrorizing everything that you hold dear. There are also many socially considerate reasons that you should not cut off all ties to at least someone. It gives people peace of mind, both to know that you’re okay and that you remember there are people out there who love you and do care about your well being. You don’t need to call every day or provide lengthy updates on your every thought and worry, but status updates every now and then can go a long way to just being considerate of the concerns of others.
It’s a very selfish person who thinks they are in the world all on their own and that it shouldn’t matter what they do because it doesn’t involve others, because we all got to the point we have because of someone else – and it’s nice to keep in touch from time to time. There are many ways to do so, from email to video chat and post cards – you can even make free calls in many circumstances.
If this doesn’t convince you, watch the movie 127 Hours and tell me that events in that guy’s life wouldn’t have been different had he just told someone where he was going before taking off for the day. You never know what’s going to happen on the open road and it’s best to be as prepared as possible.