Phone, messages, social and more: No excuses not to stay in touch
Remember when long-distance phone calls were an expensive luxury and families corresponded by mail, maybe sending a family photo in an annual holiday card?
Now, thanks to high-tech and high bandwidth, staying in touch is easier than it ever has been, whether you live a 10-minute drive or a 10-hour flight away from your nearest and dearest.
Our modern world has made us amazingly mobile – travelling our shrunken globe with ease – and working and living abroad for months or years at a time. It’s not uncommon for a high school graduate or university student to take a “gap year” to work their way around the world, or for professionals to spend a few years or more gaining experience in a foreign country.
But thanks to powerful smartphones and robust data plans, far-flung family members can share their experiences with folks back home just about whenever they want. And those at home can reciprocate to keep their loved ones in the loop.
Landline phone calls still offer one of the easiest and most direct ways to get in touch. Long-distance charges have gone way down in the past decade, and calling cards can help reduce costs further. When buying a calling card, which are available at many convenience stores, especially in big cities with lots of newcomers and travellers, look for one that has the best rates for the part of the world you’ll be calling. Always read the fine print.
Mobile phones on traditional plans have traditionally featured steeper long-distance charges than landlines. To avoid making a direct call, go through an app instead. Skype remains one of the most popular apps for video calls (or just audio, if you’re not looking your best), but you can also talk for free with Viber, Whatsapp and FaceTime (additional data charges may apply if using these apps over a mobile data connection) – also note that these last two might not be available on all phones.
If you don’t need to have a spoken conversation, or if the person you’re trying to contact isn’t available, messaging is a great way to communicate. Messages (iMessage, Whatsapp, WeChat, Facebook messenger, Instagram messenger and more) can include photos, videos and the all-expressive emojis. They’re often free and they’re immediate. If you’re looking to connect with someone in the Millennial age group or younger, this is your best bet. Try sending a short and sweet good morning message to let them know you’re thinking about them!
Messages can be sent from smartphones, a computer or tablet. So if you’re not great with one-thumb typing on your handheld device, sit down at your keyboard and type away. And if you’re not good with typing, use the “mic” function to dictate your messages.
If you have cousins across the country or friends around the world, social media is a great way to share your news and see theirs. For a more intimate experience, you can create closed networks, like Facebook Groups, with only specific people. For example, John Lee creates the “Lee Family” group and invites his parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and in-laws to join. Then John can share with them things he wouldn’t post to his general Facebook page, where he might be connected with colleagues, neighbours and other arms-length acquaintances.
Instagram is a great social media platform for sharing photos, videos, short messages and multi-media stories. It’s more visual than Facebook and, by some accounts, more popular with younger people. Using the direct message function on Instagram, you can connect with your family and friends on a more personal level. Send them photos of motivational quotes or funny photos to brighten their day!
Nothing beats a face-to-face, in-person visit. To get home to your loved ones more often, or to visit them wherever they are, seek out the best airline rewards program for your specific needs, and work your way up to a free flight. You can also sign up for email alerts for airfare savings through online tools such as Google Flights.
Wherever your friends and family are, and however you stay in touch, the most important thing is to keep the lines of communication open. And if you want to really surprise and delight, send a real, paper card through the old-fashioned postal system!
This article has been prepared to provide general information and reflects solely the opinion of the writer. All company or organizational names may be trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any Foresters Financial affiliation with, or endorsement by, unless expressly stated.
416459 CAN/US/UK (06/18)