Miles of separation don’t have to mean losing touch with friends and family. From electronic devices to traditional pen and paper, there are plenty of ways to find out what everyone’s up to around the world. Many options are inexpensive and even free, so try these ideas risk-free:
- Utilize computer-based communication: Not only is it easy to video chat via computer, it’s often free, too. With companies like Skype (www.skype.com), you can set up a user name and contact list in less than a minute and call another computer – nationwide or abroad – at no charge. If you want to call someone’s landline or cell phone from your computer, consider online options like Skype’s 2.3 cents per minute subscription. Many smartphones like the Android and iPhone have video chat capabilities, which is great for linking-up with loved ones on the road.
- Make yourself part of someone’s every day life: If you’re looking for a gift that keeps on giving, especially for someone you don’t get to see often, consider a personalized calendar or digital picture frame. Products like the wall calendars from Vistaprint (www.vistaprint.com) let you choose photos, icons, captions and more. Digital photo frames also make personal gifts that bring year-round joy. Simply transfer your pictures onto the memory card and watch the photos alternate automatically. Some frames even play music as well. Kodak, Philips and Sony all make a variety of models, and you can easily find one in your price range online.
- Become a social media extravert: It doesn’t matter how old you are – social media websites are playgrounds for anyone these days. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are used by millions of people who love staying in touch with family, friends and co-workers. Check out a cousin’s photos from a recent vacation or see whether it’s a boy or a girl via Twitter post. Social media websites especially come in handy when dealing with time zone differences and conflicting schedules. Many networking sites are free to join and can offer glimpses into the lives of all your closest contacts.
- Don’t forget the power of a postage stamp: In today’s technological world, we hear the term “snail mail” a lot, yet most people still get excited when a birthday card or personal letter arrives in their mailbox. Sometimes there’s nothing that beats printed photos and humorous greeting cards, and the personal touch of handwritten notes are always appreciated. Send your grandparents a “thinking of you” letter, or create a collage of favorite pictures to mail to someone in the hospital. The extra effort goes a long way, and the result is often a keepsake that is treasured for years to come.
Whether you want to check up on an older relative or keep the romance alive in a long-distance relationship, there are plenty of ways to stay in touch. Use technology to network, or channel your creativity to design a postcard from the heart – either way, they’ll be happy to hear from you.