For those who have moved far away from their hometowns, there usually comes a time when you start to feel distant from your old friends and relatives.
When miles separate you from loved ones, regular activities – like getting together on Sundays – become nonexistent. Yet with today’s social media and technology, there are more ways than ever before to keep in touch.
Follow these steps to maintain strong relationships in spite of the distance:
1. Leave a Message.
“I’ve been abroad for nearly six years and one tool that makes staying in touch simple with no stress is the WhatsApp voice message feature,” notes Diane Wargnier, creator of Oui in France.
After adding your loved one to your list of contacts, you both are able to send voice messages that can be listened to at any time.
“It’s more personal than email or texts and doesn’t require much effort,” adds Wargnier.
2. Connect Via Video.
Whether it’s through FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts, look for an afternoon or evening when you can see each other.
“Everyone is busy, so schedule time to hang out and put it on your calendar,” suggests Ali Wenzke, founder of The Art of Happy Moving. “Maybe you chat every Sunday evening for five minutes just to quickly catch up on the past week.”
3. Send a Care Package.
Mail artwork, baked goods, or a special keepsake from your current location. Add a handwritten note to let your family members know you’re thinking of them.
Sites such as A Wish For You and Gourmet Gift Baskets can help you find the right package for special occasions.
4. Record Special Events.
For birthdays, take a video of kids opening presents and cards, suggests John C. Hoelle, co-founder of Conscious Family Law Mediation. Then share it with family members who sent the gifts.
You can also put the videos on YouTube and mark them as unlisted, adds Hoelle. Pass the link to relatives and close friends so they can view it.
5. Play Games Together.
“Maybe you miss your family’s smack talk,” notes Wenzke. “Keep it going by competing against each other, whether it’s through a fantasy football league or online gaming.”
A few games to try: Words with Friends, Scrabble, Monopoly, Uno Friends, or Minecraft.
Another game to try is Fantasy Movie League, which can be played online against friends and family members.
6. Schedule a Gathering.
While it’s common to set up visits during the holiday season, look for an additional time of the year to connect, suggests Wenzke.
“Schedule a low-key weekend getaway in the spring or summer so you have something to look forward to. Not only will you get a chance to visit, but you’ll also have a fun time planning together.”
7. Send Photos.
After special events or seasons of the year, share photo albums through Google Photos or iCloud.
And if you want to send a book, sites like Shutterfly and Smilebox help streamline the process.
Another option: Nixplay Iris, a Wi-Fi connected photo frame that allows you to share pictures from anywhere in the world.
8. Enjoy Art Together.
If you have kids, use apps to store and easily share their artwork, advises Hoelle.
A few to download: Keepy, Canvsly, and Artkive.