On this page a summery of your options for keeping in touch with family and friends while traveling. For more detail you might want to visit my Ireland page on keeping in touch.
On my first trip to Spain, in 1999, I used a calling card issued by my long distance company to call home. On receiving my telephone bill, I was a little surprise to find the 10 minute call from Spain had cost me over $20 USD.
Internet Cafes - I did not use one on this trip. In Spain, I found Internet Cafes to be one of the cheaper ways to keep in touch. Unfortunately, I did not take the time to price the Internet Cafes in England. We did stumple on one at a McDonalds, of all places. (consider setting up a special e-mail account, see the Ireland page for details).
Prepaid Phone Cards - Prepaid phone cards appear to be one of the most economical ways to call home. I usually use a USA carrier phone card. When I call to the USA from England, 3 to 10 domestic minutes are used up on the prepaid card for every minute talking on the phone. Cost fluctuate depending on if I am calling a phone booth, a cell phone or English residence.
One other note; if you are planning to make long distance calls within the UK (i.e. British city to British city) you might do better buying your prepaid card in Britian. Once when my wife made a call from Southern Ireland to Northern Ireland, using a USA long distance carrier, she was hit with an exceptionally expensive charge. I suspect, by calling the so-called local access number for Ireland she was connected to facilities in the USA, which then re-routed her call back to Ireland. The long distance costs in this case were the combined total of the cost of the call to the USA and then the call back to Ireland.
Cell Phone - Cell phones are handy tools, indispensable for the business traveler they may also provide additional security for all travelers. Some USA providers offer international calling at a rather steep price. Occasional international travels may want to look in to renting a cell phone in England. Frequent international traveler's might find it better to buy a "unlock" cell phone, able to use the prepaid cell phone minutes for the country visited. You can learn more about unlocked phones by going to my page about using a cell phone in Spain. The phone on the Spain site is the same one I bought for Ireland.