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How can my family follow me?

Old 11-07-22, 12:19 PM
  #1  
denis_987
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How can my family follow me?

I don't know anything about Facebook, instagram, and other social media except that they exist!!!
I am planning a multi months tour and my family wants to follow me. I want to post photos, comments, videos, etc not every day but maybe two to four times a week. In addition, they would also like be able to communicate with me.

What would be the best platform and ease of use to use on my journey for that purpose?
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Old 11-07-22, 01:06 PM
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Well if social media is not your thing, then maybe an old fashioned email group would work. I'd create one at groups.io so recipients can have some control over how they receive content which is much more polite than a giant To: field in a mass email or group text. Then you just need to send an email to get your content out to whomever you want to see it.
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Old 11-07-22, 01:26 PM
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These days cell phone service from the national carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile) is nationwide service, even on their cheaper model phones; smaller companies may only have limited service areas. You'll have messaging via your phone number, can hook an email address to your cellphone to send messages and pictures, and can send pics and short video via attaching it to an email (or messaging app from most carriers). Only limit would be getting cell service in some of the more remote areas outside of the cities, and ability to charge in some areas during the day - you can mitigate this by turning off your phone in 'no cell service areas' since the phones use a heck of a lot of battery power searching for non-existant cell tower signals on no cell service areas.
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Old 11-07-22, 01:54 PM
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Emails or texting would probably be the way to go.That or using CrazyGuyOnABike. I wouldn't use Facebook or affiliated companies even if he paid me. Just like I don't drink water directly out of the sewer.
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Old 11-07-22, 02:03 PM
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A few questions:
- How do you keep in touch with them today? Phone, email, in person or something else?
- Do you normally use a smart phone - if so any apps you use?
- Do you share photos or videos today - if so how?

My first thought is to expand on how you already communicate.

For example, if comfortable with email - then send a group email and include some pictures. If you share photos today - can that same method be used either to more people or to someone who can act as "home base" to share with others? If you are using a smart phone, I would be inclined to suggest an app line Instagram.

A few more general comments in this space including how I communicate:
1. I tend to be tech heavy and carry a laptop - so may not apply to others. For my long trips I create a web site. Others do the same by using a web-based solution like crazyguyonabike.com These can provide a nice combination for including both text and photos but also require some care and feeding. I like doing this but not for everyone.
3. If I wasn't doing my approach, I would be inclined to look at Instagram as a basic tool for sharing a photo or two and text.
2. I try to be careful to set expectations on how much I will/won't be in contact. Often I will be in places where phone coverage or internet coverage is spotty. I don't want people to get freaked out if I am not instantaneously available or responding. So I also avoid being tied into some unrealistic expectation - or even if I have a time I didn't get to charge a cell phone (and blissfully unaware/happy while someone freaks out).
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Old 11-07-22, 02:09 PM
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I believe that the easiest way is to open a FB account, create a private group to which family/friends can join, and post your material there.

There are several alternatives, but FB is probably the easiest to master. If 3B people have been able, you surely can. Perhaps rent a millenial for a couple of hours (lunch) to learn the basics (teenagers would try to convince you to use Instagram or TikTok
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Old 11-07-22, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
A few questions:
2. I try to be careful to set expectations on how much I will/won't be in contact. Often I will be in places where phone coverage or internet coverage is spotty. I don't want people to get freaked out if I am not instantaneously available or responding. So I also avoid being tied into some unrealistic expectation - or even if I have a time I didn't get to charge a cell phone (and blissfully unaware/happy while someone freaks out).
This.

Email, text, and phone call would be my low-tech solutions in order. Email or text can go to multiple recipients. If you call, arrange for that person to call others who are most interested. For me, if I called my Dad, he'd call my wife (and vice versa). They could then email or text my daughter.

But there will probably be times when you will predictably be out of cell service for a day or a few days. Let your friends and family know ahead of time, and make sure you check in when you're back on the network. You don't want to be like the person whose mother started calling crazyguyonabike, the Forest Service, and local sheriffs when s/he rode out of cell range for a few days.
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Old 11-07-22, 03:44 PM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
... I wouldn't use Facebook or affiliated companies even if he paid me. Just like I don't drink water directly out of the sewer.
Concur.
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Old 11-07-22, 03:47 PM
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I realized that under promising was the way to go. It worried and annoyed my wife when there were much longer lags between contact than she expected. I subseqiently started trying harder to contact home more frequently. I found that texts would go through when the signal was too weak for a voice call and took very little time.

As far as general progress for friends, coworkers, and so on, a journal on cgoab.com or cycleblaze.com is a nice way to go. One guy said he wote good old fashioned letters to his wife. I think he said he turned them into a journal after the trip, but I may be remembering that wrong.

If you have someone that really worries and you tend to be lax about keeping in touch, something like the Garmin inReach Mini would allow them to track you real time and also allow you to send requests for emergency help from pretty much anywhere. There are also phone apps that allow someone to follow your progress.
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Old 11-07-22, 03:55 PM
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Instagram is fairly easy and useful for what you want to do.
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Old 11-07-22, 04:30 PM
  #11  
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You did not say where you are. USA? I am assuming you will be in USA and/or Canada.

I would use e-mail, but I really hate typing on a computer keyboard, so I would include phone calls and probably not a lot of typing. But if you are good at thumb typing on a phone, maybe that works. If you wanted to send voice messages to more than one person, every phone has a voice recorder on it, you can talk as long as you like and send the voice file by e-mail. You can send short videos too if you prefer.

Use wifi when you can to save on data plan usage. My foreign trips, I only used wifi, never had a data plan to use. And my domestic trips, I used wifi as much as I could to save on data plan.

There are places where cell service is bad but you might find that you have wifi. I have had a Google Voice account (free in USA) with its own phone number and have made phone calls where I had wifi but no cell coverage. It is impractical to expect people to call you on google voice or even on your regular phone plan, your phone will typically be off or in airplane mode to save power. But calling on Google Voice (or other Voice Over Internet Protocol) where you have wifi if there is no cell service is a great backup plan for where there is no cell service.

I have two cell phones, one only has a data plan but with Google Voice, the one with only a data plan basically is a functional phone. That was the phone I used for my last two trips.

A cold phone battery loses power very fast. Plan to only use your phone if the phone and battery are between 60 and 80 degrees. If my phone battery is 40 degrees, I might lose 10 percent of my battery just getting a weather forecast on wifi. If I plan to use my phone on a chilly morning, I warm up my phone in my sleeping bag before I get out of the sleeping bag.

What is your power source? Solar panel? Dynohub? Finding seats near an outlet in restaurant?

If you get a dynohub, I think the Cycle2Charge USB charger is great. I used to use a Sinewave Revolution to get USB power out of my dynohub, but I find that the Cycle2Charge puts out maybe 50 percent more power. The US Dollar is very strong right now, so you can buy stuff from Europe quite cheaply. I got my Cycle2Charge a few months ago at Amazon in Germany. My credit card does not charge a fee for currency conversion, so I told Amazon that my credit card uses Euros. I think it took between a week and two weeks for shipping to USA.
https://www.amazon.de/Cycle2Charge-V3/dp/B07NKQPQB1

I regularly have to go into my e-mail account and clean it out by deleting messages 100 at a time when it is getting full. So, if you might want to document your trip in a journal later, if you send out e-mails to a group, create a new e-mail account for yourself and send everything that you send to that new e-mail account too. Then if you lose your phone you would have a record of everything you sent on that new e-mail account. And if your regular e-mail account gets full and you have to delete a lot, you have that new account with everything intact that you sent to others.

Last edited by Tourist in MSN; 11-07-22 at 04:36 PM.
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Old 11-07-22, 04:50 PM
  #12  
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As noted above, temper expectations with those concerned about you.

Several years ago a mom came here and other places frantically looking for her missing son when she hadn’t heard from him for a couple of days. Turns out he wasn’t missing. IIRC, he had fallen asleep without powering down/off his device and killed the battery. Took him a couple of day’s to regain connectivity.

I’ve even been in relatively populated areas where the cell signal has been so weak I haven’t been able to send even a plain text message.
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Old 11-08-22, 01:23 AM
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Postcards.
For photos, you could mail them a roll of film and have them develop it.
If you're staying at a hotel, they could send mail to it ahead of your arrival.
For conversations in real-time, try amateur radio. It would work best to have a pre-arranged time for contact. At their house, they could use any transceiver. On the bicycle, it would be most practical to carry a QRP rig. For the most fun, use CW.
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Old 11-08-22, 07:53 AM
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When I tour, I use an app called TrackMyTour (trackmytour.com) that allows me to make waypoints as I ride. My wife can see where I am by looking at the app. It allows for the posting of photos with waypoints and even short messages. However, it doesn't push messages. People have to go to the app to see your map.

What are you planning on sending? Messages during the day? A message each night? Are you camping or staying indoors each night? Different answers bring up different issues.
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Old 11-08-22, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by greatbasin View Post
Postcards.
For photos, you could mail them a roll of film and have them develop it.
If you're staying at a hotel, they could send mail to it ahead of your arrival.
For conversations in real-time, try amateur radio. It would work best to have a pre-arranged time for contact. At their house, they could use any transceiver. On the bicycle, it would be most practical to carry a QRP rig. For the most fun, use CW.
Smoke signals.
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Old 11-08-22, 09:49 AM
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Creating a whatsapp group seems to me most effective way


Originally Posted by denis_987 View Post
I don't know anything about Facebook, instagram, and other social media except that they exist!!!
I am planning a multi months tour and my family wants to follow me. I want to post photos, comments, videos, etc not every day but maybe two to four times a week. In addition, they would also like be able to communicate with me.

What would be the best platform and ease of use to use on my journey for that purpose?
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Old 11-08-22, 10:54 AM
  #17  
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Strava has a 'beacon' link you can send to selected people and they can follow your location in real time.
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Old 11-08-22, 02:16 PM
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Thank you all for your suggestions: it is appreciated. Not sure about smoke signals !!!

I forgot to mention a couple of things:
  1. I don't have a cell phone (I will probably be the last person on this planet to have one). Whatapp look promising but I need a cell phone for it...so not a good option
  2. I have an iPad mini, so I can connect on free wifi (hoitel, restaurant, etc)
  3. Will do camping when ever possible
  4. I have a dyno hub and a solar panel to recharge my iPad, lights, powerbank, etc... Plus I can recharge at restaurant, hotel, etc
  5. My tour will start in the USA (Texas), Mexico, Guatemala, ... up to Panama
  6. Most of my family have FaceBook
Trackmytour and Strava look promising also email makes sense at some occasion.

Thanks!
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Old 11-08-22, 02:38 PM
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Your iPad mini will run almost every app an iPhone would run, so you can put all of that horrible FakeBook junk on it.

TrackMyTour sounds like the thing to get.

If you want to use a cellular network, and your iPad doesn't have that option, you can get an external battery-powered box that will enable cellular to wifi (essentially a portable hub). You might run up against a data limit if you are uploading a bunch of photos, but you can save that for when you are in range of free, conventional wifi.

One of the very few advantages of having Xfiniity/Comcast at home is that you can use your account password to tap into any of their accessible hubs (which is most customer's wifi routers). So you can often find an accessible, if not open, network, if you have that.
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Old 11-08-22, 03:06 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by denis_987 View Post
Thank you all for your suggestions: it is appreciated. Not sure about smoke signals !!!

I forgot to mention a couple of things:
  1. I don't have a cell phone (I will probably be the last person on this planet to have one). Whatapp look promising but I need a cell phone for it...so not a good option
  2. I have an iPad mini, so I can connect on free wifi (hoitel, restaurant, etc)
  3. Will do camping when ever possible
  4. I have a dyno hub and a solar panel to recharge my iPad, lights, powerbank, etc... Plus I can recharge at restaurant, hotel, etc
  5. My tour will start in the USA (Texas), Mexico, Guatemala, ... up to Panama
  6. Most of my family have FaceBook
Trackmytour and Strava look promising also email makes sense at some occasion.

Thanks!
Based on this, I would keep things simple. I cycled Central America in 2017 and while most hotels I was at had wifi - there were occasionally connectivity issues. If you are camping more often then having people expect frequent updates via wifi may not be realistic.

I did carry with me a smart phone and had it as an "unlocked" phone but with six or more countries involved - each time I crossed a border, I was finding someone to both sell a new prepaid SIM card and help getting it configured correctly. Instead of doing that, I could have used a service with roaming but then have to be careful on what those roaming fees might become.

Given what you've described - if it were me, I'd probably:

- use email to keep in touch - and perhaps talk with one of these Facebook literate people to help you with sharing to the rest of the family.
* Ask them to create a "Friends of denis_987" private group - by invitation only and have someone who can share things received. Have a calming person be in the group so if someone gets excited they might post to the group but others can reassure them.[*]

- experiment with an app or two on your ipad - trying before you leave - and see if it seems useful or not; if so use it. But try this before the trip and before telling everyone this is what you will do (I still think Instagram is worth a look as an example app).

- set expectations that while you can understand their need to keep in touch and follow your trip - you also want to be realistic that because you are camping and otherwise traveling in areas where wifi could be sporadic - that might be reasons they don't hear from you some days in a row (set expectations low enough that you can exceed them since a miss that direction is easier than the other way around)

- take lots of photos and videos and be able to share *after* the trip is complete

and otherwise have fun!

[*] to given an example of how the calming can help; in 2017 after crossing Central America I continued to also cross South America. I was keeping things updated on a web site and on Facebook and keeping things updated fairly regularly. However, in southern Peru I had a point where I cycled up from Arequipa to Puno that I wasn't in touch for almost a week. One of my work friends contacted my brother from Facebook to inquire why they hadn't heard in a while and if everything OK. My brother reassured them - and also pointed out that I had mentioned in advance that I would be ,crossing to the Altiplano and expected services to be sparse - so it could be a week or so before I would be able to update things again.

Last edited by mev; 11-08-22 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 11-08-22, 03:26 PM
  #21  
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By the way, other than calling - there can other reasons a (basic) phone could be useful.

Back in 2007 I cycled across Russia including an area of ~1500km of gravel road in part of Siberia. Twitter was still new and not as popular as as it now is - so I used a phone with Russian phone service to send an SMS text message with encoded GPS coordinates to the twitter SMS bridge where they became tweets. My father watched for the tweets and used them to update locations[*] on a google map web site I had created before leaving. The tweets themselves were limited to ~140 characters plus I had to type them on the basic phone so were naturally short. While the route were were taking was a newly opened road, it was surprising that most days we would come into a village with cell service as both the villages and the roads had been placed along route of the trans-Siberian railroad.

Nowadays I would be more inclined to send SMS texts directly to someone than use twitter - and there are phone services with inexpensive international SMS messages. If you are traveling with someone else - they can also be useful if you need to find each other. You also don't need a fancy smart phone to just send SMS messages. I also expect places with SMS text service to be more common than wifi.
[*] - the GPS coordinates were surprisingly precise so my father waited a day or two after receiving the locations before posting them on the map.

Last edited by mev; 11-08-22 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 11-08-22, 04:38 PM
  #22  
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There's also satellite-based SPOT.


As my brother found out tracking his son on a solo-xAmerica, a tracker by itself can't tell the folks at home if you've stopped for a day to do bike maintenance and attend a local festival, or if you're lying in a ditch. (In my nephew's case, festival!)
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Old 11-09-22, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
My brother reassured them - and also pointed out that I had mentioned in advance that I would be ,crossing to the Altiplano and expected services to be sparse - so it could be a week or so before I would be able to update things again.
Good thing to do. While I’m never out of touch for more than a couple of days, I always let my “follower” back home know when that is likely or even possible. I’ll often send a text saying something like “I’m about to go into possible dark territory for X days so you probably won’t hear from me until….”
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Old 11-10-22, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
[...] I’ll often send a text saying something like “I’m about to go into possible dark territory for X days so you probably won’t hear from me until….”
Same here. This being said, I carry an InReach Mini so I can send "All OK" messages when there is no phone service. Got one 2 years ago in anticipation of a trip where connectivity gaps lasted a week or more. Some kind of satellite communicator is as much for personal safety as it is a tool to keep in touch with loved ones.
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Old 11-10-22, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Same here. This being said, I carry an InReach Mini so I can send "All OK" messages when there is no phone service. Got one 2 years ago in anticipation of a trip where connectivity gaps lasted a week or more. Some kind of satellite communicator is as much for personal safety as it is a tool to keep in touch with loved ones.
I have not yet spung for one, but think that is a great idea especially if you do long tours in areas with spotty cell coverage and have a spouse or other loved ones who fret over lack of check ins. I figure the personal safety angle is a nice perk when touring. For further off grid travel the saferty angle may be a bigger deal. It has been a while since I have done a tour that would warrant buying one, but I probably will when/if I do another multi month tour.

I might be inclined to buy one to have the appearance of being more safe to get my wife off my back about doing trips solo. If it sets her mind at ease it would be money well spent. That could be for bike tours, but also canoe trips, backpacking, or whatever.
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