Keeping In Touch
This is the least expensive (free) way to keep in touch while abroad. See SKYPE. Also look into using Gmail call & chat, students are able to call to the U.S. for free! (as of May 2012) For those with iPhones, FaceTime is also a great and quick way to keep in touch, as long as there is a strong internet signal.
Check with your local long-distance telephone carrier about discount opportunities available to you while abroad. A “calling home” card can save considerable expense, though each card is only valid for a limited amount of minute. Phone debit cards are also available. These allow you to pay in advance for the calls you plan to make, simplifying your budgeting for the trip and eliminating the need to carry coins for each country you plan to visit. Whether your student is planning to be abroad short term or for a semester, you may also talk to the cell phone company about temporarily putting the line on "hold" that way you wouldn't have to pay for a phone that isn't being used.
Some smart phones are able to be used world-wide with 3G and 4G, so it would be a good idea to look into your cell phone company's text, call or data international rates, etc.
POSTCARDS AND LETTERS
Postcards and letters are always welcome by those at home, though they will mean finding time to sit down and write. Postcards will also provide a pictorial record of what you have seen during your travels. Some people prefer to collect those instead of taking photos.
E-mail may be available to you, depending on the program in which you participate. Internet cafes are available pretty much everywhere you go. Be prepared to pay for this service in the local currency and include the cost in your budget.