If you’ve ever left the country for more than a couple of weeks, you understand how difficult it can be to stay in touch with friends and family at home. Whether you’re a retiree enjoying your newly discovered free time, a mid-lifer trying out something crazy, or a recent grad with an enviable gap year planned, you probably want to take off without leaving everyone behind. While there are some obvious ways to stay connected while abroad, I’d like to also suggest a couple of original ideas about how to keep in touch from across the world.
The Basics: There are several ways to stay in touch that you’ve probably already thought of, but I suppose I will mention them anyway. Good, old fashioned mail and post cards. E-mail blasts. International calls either by calling card or video calls on Skype. Posting photos, sharing anecdotes, and writing to friends via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Got ‘em? Good!
Creative Skype Sessions: While many people might be familiar with Skype, and use it as a way to chat, there are some other more creative ways to use the video tool. If you’re abroad for a long time, sometimes you miss the normal stuff. How about planning to watch the same movie together with Skype open? Or what about chatting over coffee with both of you sitting at a different cafe? Bring things in for show and tell to engage each other in your new lives. See what you can come up with, and have fun!
Care Packages: Sending care packages from abroad is a personal way to remind people that you’re thinking of them. Fill it with local favorites, inside jokes, notes, pictures, or anything that you think they might be interested in. Whether you break the bank on a big box or stuff some things inside an envelope, creating a care package reminds people at home that you’re still thinking of them.
Celebrate Birthdays: A message or letter is a nice gesture, but try a bit harder for someone’s birthday from abroad! It can be as simple as giving them an online gift certificate or having flowers sent to their home, or as intricate as having a mutual friend set up a scavenger hunt to which you write the clues and pay for later. Whatever you think of, they will appreciate that you thought of them from so far away.
Blogs & Vlogs: Blogs are a fun and easy way to share stuff with your loved ones and an even broader audience if you’re interested. You can write an “and then we did this after this” kind of blog, or you can focus on specific anecdotes, create photo blogs, generate top 10 lists, make a weekly video, or whatever interests you! Get creative.
Photo Projects: Sharing a photo of a cool cathedral or impressive palace is all well and good, but perhaps you’re friends at home might appreciate a more personalized version of your photos. Try editing your photos into collages or make them into cartoons. Take specific photos for your individuals and include a caption about why it made you think of them. Create cards or online books with your photos and send them home. The more effort you put in, the more connected you’ll feel.
Do you have any creative ways to stay in touch from abroad? Tell us about them in the comments section below or on Facebook! (Click here if you can’t see comments: How to Stay in Touch While Traveling Abroad)