When you are abroad, far far away from friends at home – or other places you’ve met lovely people in – it’s sometimes hard, keeping contact. In this post we will find some ways to not only keep in touch but also bring a little smile onto their faces.
Believe it or not, I’ve had plenty of friends get annoyed with me because I didn’t message them often enough. They seemed to have gotten under the impression, that I didn’t care about them anymore.
There’s one thing you should know about me: I hate it to upset people. Generally, I don’t like it, when others are upset.
It’s important to say, that I do think about my friends and family a freakin’ lot. However, I don’t always have internet at hand, when I do. And every time I do have internet for a change, I… well… I work. I focus on other things. Things that make sure I don’t starve.
So I was in a little dilemma: On one hand, I didn’t want my friends to think I’m an emotionless potato, that has no memory to store them in, and on the other hand I need to work on my projects when I should actually remember them.
Here are my top ideas, how you could go the extra mile for your friends and family.
Seems obvious to many, but especially when you travel non-stop, you don’t appreciate the thought too much anymore.
However, for your friends – who live in one place most of the time – a physical, handwritten card with a funny or far away picture, might just save their day. Or at least make them smile and feel all warm and fuzzy.
My ex and I used to do this, when we did our Europe Interrail a couple of Summers ago.
It all seemed completely logical, after a friend has told us to send him at least one postcard – even if it just said “Fuck you, Lars.” The problem: We didn’t have the money. And sending a postcard to one friend, means sending a postcard to everybody. Also, we might as well do it in every city.
And no, I don’t mean these cheesy, animated pieces of cotton-candy-crap, that you find on the internet. Digital postcards are for losers. Especially if you send them from another country.
I got a bit more creative back then. We decided to make our very own version of postcards.
We took my notebook and decided on a theme for every friend we had. Lars always got “Fuck you, Lars. With Love, Robin & Ben”.
But it got more interesting than that. My mum got an angel from every city we went to. A friend of ours, who we had an (to be fair, quite creepy) inside joke running with, of him being a pedophile (which he isn’t, of course), always got a young boy. And one of my ex’s friends, who hates the colour purple, got something purple.
How did we do it? We wrote a message for the person into my notebook and changed the city name, depending on where we were. Then, we kept our eyes open and actually managed to find something that fit our topic in every single city.
We uploaded the pictures to Facebook and tagged the person on them. Everybody always got really excited.
To be precise, it got so popular, that we got special requests from other friends, we hadn’t made a Personalised Virtual Postcard for. People love it.
(And yes, apparently I liked to show tong back then…)
It only just came to my mind recently. This would be the perfect prove, that I do think of my loved ones, but only in the moments, when I don’t have internet.
Every time you think of a friend of your’s or of a family member, take a picture. Obviously this works even better if it’s the situation, that reminds you of them. Especially if they can relate to it.
Make sure to have an online back up of your photos, so you can delete them from your phone, as soon as you’ll have WiFi the next time. Saving storage, you know?
I use Google Photo for this task. It’s also great to share the photo with your friends the next time you are on the web. Furthermore you can create so called ‘Stories’ with those pictures, documenting all the places you have thought of them. Get creative. They will be grateful and happy to see themselves being a part of your journey.
The only problem with this is that – ironically – it’s not always easy to catch your friends when they are online.
For a really small fee, however, you can even call landlines and mobile phones in your home country with Skype. I still use this, even though I am currently in Austria. It’s much cheaper and you have no idea, how pleasantly surprised people are, when you call them via phone when you are in another country.
I’m not a big fan of this, since I try to keep my luggage as small as possible. But in the mountains by La Maroma in the South of Spain, I found shiploads of quartz. Don’t ask me, what quartz exactly, I have no clue. Most likely not valuable at all. And it doesn’t really matter either.
I decided to take a few of the stones with me to give them to my mum and a two friends. My mum already got her’s and she was really happy about it.
The things you bring don’t have to be big, or have cost money, or – heck – best you didn’t buy them at all. Just the simple act of thinking ‘This friend might like this‘ makes all the difference. And your friends will love you for it.
A good way to remind yourself is Google Calendar. Here you can enter “Email John” on a week day of your choice and set it to be a recurring event. Every month for example. Add an email reminder to this recurring event.
Now Google will send you an email once a month, in order to send your friend a message!
And let’s be fair: One of the first things we do, when we finally have WiFi, is checking our emails, right?
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