How to keep in touch with family and friends when you can’t see them

Whether you are self-isolating due to a pandemic, in lockdown or simply have family and friends that live at a distance so you can’t see them regularly, modern technology allows for a range of ways to keep in touch.  In this article, I will explore some ideas on how to stay in touch with your loved ones, even if you can’t see them.

Luckily we live in a very connected world where we can easily communicate with people all around the world using traditional methods and newer technology.

Read on and help your loved ones feel connected to you when you’re apart.

How to stay in touch with long-distance relatives and friends

How to keep in touch with family and friends when you can't see them

1. Video call for free with WhatsApp

If you don’t already have it then WhatsApp is a great way of easily video calling, calling and even messaging your loved ones with ease.  It works using your WiFi or data so you can send and receive picture messages and videos for free.  You can contact anyone in your mobile phone contacts list who also has the app installed.

We have family living off-grid in Portugal and regularly call them via WhatsApp at no further cost to ourselves other than our usual monthly phone tariff. All you need is a good internet signal, however, if you’re off-grid then you might struggle to get an internet signal! If so, look into options like Starlink and satellite internet so you can stay in touch with your family. Here’s an article comparing viasat vs starlink, which are two fast satellite broadband companies offering various options for businesses and individuals in various countries.

2. Create a family photo newspaper

We have an elderly relative in Germany – my husband’s gran who is almost 97!  It’s really expensive for us to travel as a family of four for a visit, although we have managed to at least once per year since we’ve had children.

Sometimes there can be as long as 18 months between visits and the children grow so much in this time.  To keep Ben’s Gran updated with our happenings, we send a photo album once per month using an app called Neveo.

The app allows us to add photos directly from our smartphone camera rolls and a short comment on each.  Neveo then collates the photos and print a photo booklet which they send directly to Ben’s Gran on our behalf.

It’s also possible to collaborate on the booklet with other family members, so multiple family members can add their photos and you can all split the cost.

3. Send a handmade card

The children, especially, love to make a handmade card to send to their Nana or other family members.  It’s really exciting for them to make a card and walk to the local letterbox to post it.  Handmade cards always have an extra special personal touch to them.

We also love using the computer and various graphic design websites and apps to design and print cards so they have a professional feel. For example, monogram app can be used to create a unique monogram for the recipient using their initials to create a personalised card for their birthday or notecard.  It’s free to create a monogram which can then easily be printed on glossy photo paper to create a lovely handmade card with a difference.

4. Try social media

Social media such as Facebook can get a lot of bad rep as being a time sink, which it can be, but if used responsibly then it’s a great way to stay connected with friends and family.  You can post updates of what you have been up to and share photos of your travels, day-to-day life and any special events.

Instagram is like a photo journal and a great way to share your best photos with a short comment.  Friends and family can then comment on your photos and you can interact digitally this way.

5. Give them a call

There’s no need for elderly relatives to get their heads around social media or confusing technology when a good old phone call will suffice.  Keep things simple and call your loved ones for a good old chinwag when you can.  Just hearing each other’s voices can help you feel in touch and connected, even when apart.

6. Email photos

Sending emails to my mum and Grandad, who don’t have smartphones, is the best way for me to quickly and easily share family photos and our latest news.

Sending text messages with photos added is another option, but sending an MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) from your phone will not usually be included as part of your phone tariff and they could cost around 50p per photo to send!  This quickly adds up if you are sending multiple photos by text message.

It’s just as quick and easy to send an email containing photos from a smartphone nowadays to skip any MMS costs on your phone bill.

7. Create an annual photo book album

At the end of each year, or more regularly, you can easily use one of the best photo book maker websites online to create a professional photo book of your best photos throughout the year. This can be sent by post to those you love to see your favourite memories of the year. Either send it directly to the recipient or have it delivered to yourself so you can check it first and wrap it beautifully before posting with a handmade card from suggestion #3.

Final word

“There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face-to-face. But that’s not always possible. Give them a call, drop them a note or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open. It’s good for you!” – Mental Health Foundation

There are lots of ways to stay connected to your loved ones, even when you can’t visit them in person.  Whether they are digitally savvy or not, the above tips are suitable for young and old to keep in touch in a way that is easy for them.

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How to keep in touch with family and friends when you can't see them

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