These days, the internet is the quickest, fastest, cheapest way to stay in touch. Not only do you have the option to email, but with social networking you can also keep in touch via facebook and twitter. Want a little face to face time? Look into getting an account with Skype. This internet-based phone service let’s you get in touch at a fraction of normal phone service rates. While I was in India and severely jetlagged, I spent hours on facebook chat via WiFi and it didn’t cost me a dime. Depending on where you are traveling to, it may be hard to find a computer or internet access. I always travel with mine!
Calling cards to me now seem a little dated, sort of like myspace, travelers checks and blue ray. They are a tried and true way to stay in touch during overseas travels and are simple, easy-to-use and functional. They even now have online phone calling cards (like Rebtel), so it works directly off of your credit card in 50 different countries. Personally, I would look into the internet or cell phone options first.
Some places (like Korea) work of a different cell network and you must get a new cell phone while in their country. Most other countries you can use your own personal (unlocked) cell phone and get a local SIM card. I have always used my US based cell phones in other countries and even though it is not the most inexpensive option, it is the most convenient. Call your carrier before you leave to turn on international features as well as checking the rates. Most airports have phone rentals i the airport if you don’t want to commit to buying. With a cell phone you are always in touch, and it is the most convenient option.