Helen’s daughter called in after dinner last night. She usually brings the two grandchildren and Helen loves watching them play in the background; they’re growing up so fast. While the kids play Helen, 69, and her daughter catch up on the day’s happenings — how work is going, what everyone is doing, how the boys are going in school. You’d think it was all very normal for a family, but you’d be wrong. While Helen lives in New Zealand, her daughter calls the United Kingdom home and the whole conversation is conducted via Skype.
Distance-wise, it might not be easy for you to be close to your loved ones. People move around for all sorts of reasons, and at one time that move might have been in a different town or state but nowadays globalisation has moved people around a lot more. It means you might not see your family or friends as often as you like, however you don’t have to disconnect completely.
There are a great many ways to keep in touch, see those friendly faces, and hear about everyone’s adventures.
Embrace the digital age
Whether you use Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, e-mail, or social media like Facebook, the digital world has made it much easier to keep in touch. Use it. Each of these apps can be used on your computer, smartphone or tablet and will allow you to quickly and inexpensively remain involved in your loved ones’ lives.
For Helen, video chats have gone a long way to ensuring the relationship she has with her grandchildren continues to build as they grow older.
Keep an eye out for cheap airfares
There are several outlets you can sign up for to be notified about when flights to wherever your family or friends live drop below a certain price. All the major airlines have their own subscriptions for such services, but you can also sign up to Kayak, Webjet or Cheap Flights.
This worked wonders for Gloria, 60, who travelled to Melbourne, Victoria from Brisbane, Queensland to see her son and newborn twin grandsons at least once a month. She says although her son’s partner had family in Melbourne the trip allowed her to be a presence and provide support to the whole family in a way she couldn’t have done if she was only able to make phone or video calls.
Though most fees are disclosed up front, if you are using any of these sites it’s a good idea to look closely for any hidden costs of special conditions when it comes to travel.
Knowing 24-hour time is also very handy — you wouldn’t want to miss your flight.
Irene and John, both in their 60s, first met friends Denese and Graham, also in their 60s, while holidaying in Italy more than 10 years ago. The two couples formed a strong friendship and have holidayed together on a couple of occasions since then. But Italy isn’t on the cards every time and most recently the four got together for a more low-key vacation.
“All it took was a little planning,” Irene says.
If you want to see family or friends, why not take the time and plan ahead. You could take a weekend caravanning trip, spend a day or two at a winery near you, or rent a house for a week where you can all spend time together having fun.
Get blogging or v-logging
While all of the above are nifty ideas, there are a couple of other creative ways in which you, your family and your friends can stay in touch.
Start a small blog. It doesn’t have to cost money or be too fancy and sites like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr or Penzu make it simple to do. If you just had a great afternoon walking in the park with some friends, fantastic. Got pictures? Even better. Use those pictures and write a few paragraphs and voila, you’re blogging. You can make it exclusively to be shared with your family and your friends, and it then becomes a bit of a journal.
If you are handy with a video recorder, you could even start your own YouTube channel where you, your family and your friends can upload short videos each day. It’s a great way to include people in your life, especially if you live far apart.
There’s also nothing wrong with a simple postcard or a letter sent by ‘snail mail’, and these are two very personal ways to let someone know you are thinking about them.
Whatever you choose, there should be no excuses for not staying in touch with loved ones who life far away.