There’s no sugarcoating it: it can be hard being away from family and friends.
No matter how exciting it is to start our new lives away from home, there’s always a bit of heaviness as we leave our loved ones for places far, far away.
Whether you are moving away for an extended period of time or have a job that requires you to travel extensively, there’s a chance that you don’t maintain communication with your loved ones the way you wish.
And that’s understandable. Depending on where you live, you may even be in a different time zone, so it can be hard to coordinate a time to talk.
Fortunately, there are ways around this dilemma. In our technological age, there are now a myriad of ways we can keep in touch with our family and friends—no matter where we are. With several traditional and new-age options available, there’s no longer any excuse not to keep in touch.
We’ve prepared a list of the top five ways you can maintain connection with your loved ones while you’re away. Check it out to see which is best for your personal situation.
Know Your Apps
Let’s start with the most convenient option. As long as you have a mobile device with access to the internet, you’ll find it easier than ever to keep in touch with loved ones who are far away. Even compared to just ten years ago, there has been an explosion in the voice-and-video communications market. Today, there are more applications and programs designed at long-range communication than ever—so let’s go over a few of your top options.
Zoom is one of those apps that has gone from being completely unknown to rocketing to the top of the app store, largely due to Coronavirus. But there is also a good reason that it’s gained popularity so quickly – it’s free and easy to use, even my Grandmother is able to join our family Zoom meeting with minimal assistance. It’s also great for calling multiple people at once, I recently had conversation with family in the UK, Australia, South Africa, Netherlands and India – the hardest thing was finding a time that would accommodate all of us.
This is not an app per say but rather a vital organisational tool. There are a multitude of world clock app available for iOS and Android that all do the job or even just typing “Whats the time in [country]” into Google. The important thing is to find a time that suits everyone. I am currently in Australia and have family and friends in the UK, that generally means late afternoon or evening calls for me and morning calls for my UK friends. Be considerate and find a time that works for everyone.
Multiplayer games like Fortnite
Yes you read that correctly. A lot of my talks with friends have been while playing games. It’s the long distance equivalent of going for a walk while you talk. There is no pressure to be talking every second of the time you are connected, sometimes you are just walking or building together in silence while covering each others backs.
Obviously this is not going to work for everyone but I found it a great way to keep in touch with friends without having an agenda or something that I wanted to discuss. I say Fortnite as it is free, multiplatform – I generally play on my computer or mobile phone while my friend plays on his XBox – and has enough depth to remain interesting and fun if you don’t take competitively.
Okay, this one feels almost a little too obvious. We all know that we can keep up with the day-to-day activities of our family and friends on FaceBook. That’s why we visit the site, after all. But did you know that you can also place calls with your loved ones directly through FaceBook’s Messenger app? Available for download on all Android and iOS devices and PC/laptop compatible, Messenger is a great application that allows for two methods of calling your distant family or friends. First, you will be able to “voice” call with your loved ones, which is really just a traditional phone call, but placed through Wi-Fi. Messenger also gives you the option to video call your loved ones, which will enable both parties to view the other in real time.
If you are familiar with this option, you already know it’s a great choice when it comes to maintaining long-range contact with loved ones back home. Keep in mind, however, that nations like China have actually banned Messenger, so if you are planning a stay there, you will be forced to find a different app.
The other obvious choice is another Zuckerberg application. Whatsapp is available on practically all smartphones and even has a web browser and computer versions.
This is my preferred method of contact as it is free, available on iOS and Android and has the ability to send text messages, live videos or calls through Wifi to avoid any high mobile phone operator bills when calling overseas.
If you and your family aren’t Apple users, this one won’t pertain to you. Still, it’s worth noting simply because FaceTime is one of the most popular video calling options out there. As long as all parties have Apple devices, you will be able to video call with them in real time through the FaceTime application. What’s better is that FaceTime has a series of cool features that will keep you and your loved ones laughing. Add filters, text, and stickers to your call for humor, or simply call straightforwardly with your loved ones. Either way, all involved will appreciate the reliability and HD quality of FaceTime video calls.
If you are looking for a quality IMS that will allow you to video call with your family, consider Skype. Though the program has taken a backseat to other systems in the last few years, it remains a popular and reliable option for those looking to place long-range video calls. What makes Skype worthy of inclusion here is that it started out as a desktop application. This means that you can Skype with your friends and family from your phone or your PC. Like the other options on this list, Skype is a quality free option that you can use anywhere—permitting you have an Internet connection.
If you’re not as tech savvy and don’t feel like bothering with these newer applications, consider keeping regular email correspondence with your loved ones. Sure, you won’t be able to see your loved ones or hear their voices, but email is still an effective means of communication. Not to mention, it’s quite charming. In today’s day and age, email nearly feels like “snail mail.” IMS messaging has completely changed the speed at which we communicate.
Because of this, even email seems like a slower method of communication. Still, it’s completely possible to set up a regular email communication schedule so that you can keep in touch with your family far away. And there are some advantages to this. First, because you are writing, you will have more time to deliberate on your response and send them the perfect message. This means that you can say everything you want to say without being distracted by other issues. Second, you can limit communication to a set time and stay on a more or less regular schedule, which may be helpful for some people who are busier or have less time to talk.
Email is also a good option for those tech-savvy individuals with less than computer-friendly parents or loved ones. For some, it is easier and cheaper to email their aged relatives than it is to teach them how to navigate newer technology or place calls. If this is the case, you should consider emailing your family for maximum convenience.
Who said regular mail is past its prime? There are several reasons you should be sending your family and friends a letter by post.
To begin with, “snail mail,” as it is called, has a personal touch. Your family will be able to see your hand writing, the stationery you chose, and anything else you decide to send off. Of course, sending packages by post is more expensive than using instant messengers or emailing, but it is a charming way to show your family and friends that you are truly thinking about them.
Furthermore, you will be able to send more than just messages through the mail. Say you are living far away and find something interesting. You can send back souvenirs through the post (depending on what it is, of course) so that your loved ones can get a taste of your current adventure. Trust me, this is far more fun than sending plain messages or even video calling. Your family and friends will love taking part in your experience, and they will appreciate that you were thinking about them.
Sending a letter or package by post is also a good way to give your loved ones a permanent reminder of you. While messages and emails are generally saved in your chat history or inbox, no one likes sifting through hundreds of messages to find something. It’s much easier to simply pull a dear letter out of a drawer or go back and revisit that awesome souvenir you’ve sent.
For these reasons, you should definitely consider sending regular messages by post. Though you don’t have to send a letter or package off every day, it may be good to send one off at least twice a month, especially if you are communicating with older individuals.
Who says you can’t go back home—just for a little while?
If time permits, try and at least go back for your family reunion. A family reunion is the best time to catch up not only with your immediate family, but also with your extended family who you don’t see very often (and who you don’t know when or if you’ll ever see again).
This option may be harder to accomplish, especially if you are on a budget, but it should be considered, nonetheless. If you have the means, make sure that you know when your family’s next reunion is and consider going.
Just think: your family will love to see you there. If only for a day or two, you will be able to finally hold your loved ones in your arms again. If you have a spouse and kids, this could be especially moving. Even if not, you will enjoy being able to hug Mom and Dad again.
Yeah, I know—that sure beats video calling.
The best part? You don’t have to let anyone know you are coming. Keep your presence a surprise. Be the star of your reunion with a secret trip back home. One thing is guaranteed—all eyes will be on you.
This also gives you the perfect opportunity to bring souvenirs for the whole family. While it’s possible to send them in the mail, it’s much cheaper to actually bring them with you. So don’t wait! Bring the little ones something special and show your family how much they mean to you with gifts they’ll never forget.
Keep a Regular Schedule
Knowing all this, it’s important that you keep a regular communication schedule with your family and friends. Though it may not seem like much, this is actually one of the most important things you can keep in mind if you are going to be away from your loved ones for an extended period of time.
Simply put, communication only becomes habit when repeated. It can be easy to be swept up in the moment and simply lose track of time. This means that you could go days or even weeks without contacting your loved ones back home.
Obviously, that’s not what anyone wants.
Try and set a schedule that works for you. Maybe you can arrange a video call for every morning (or every other morning). Try and keep the call around the same time every day. This will let your family and friends know when to expect you. Of course, if you can’t make the call, try and tell them in advance or at least send them a quick message. You don’t want anyone worried about your broken schedule.
If you prefer email, try and respond to your emails at a set time every day. If you are a morning person, make it a part of your morning routine to answer your emails. If you are a night owl, there’s no reason not to email your loved ones before going to bed.
If you can, try to sprinkle in as much snail mail as possible. This will help your loved ones feel closer to you by giving them the regular personal touch. Though price may prevent you from doing this often, you can perhaps aim for at least a couple of letters per month.
On the whole, it’s important that you keep a schedule that is regular, consistent, and predictable. This will help all parties stay in touch and keep proper communication. Whether you are coming back home soon or plan to be away for a while, having a regular communication schedule will help keep your relationships healthy and natural.
The Bottom Line
We know how easy it is to lose contact with your loved ones.
If we’re being honest, it’s hard to keep regular contact with people—even when you live in the same town. This is why it’s imperative that you know what to do and where to go for all your long-range communication needs if you plan on being away from home for any extended period of time.
Understanding your options and maintaining regular contact with family and friends back home will help everyone stay happier. For starters, you will feel more at home if you can hear the voice of that special someone every day. What’s more, your family back home will love to know that you are safe.
If you are planning on leaving home, keep this list in mind as you think about your future. With the tips provided here, you will be able to maintain healthy communication with all your contacts.
We hope this helps!