Visit the Roman Colosseum, the ruins of Athens or ride the Trans-Siberian railroad — despite the amazing sites, the best part of traveling abroad is the people you meet along the way — fellow travelers like yourself, out for adventure, culture and making friends. But how can you stay in touch once you’re home? Here are some tips on how you can maintain your friendships even after the adventures are over.
Many social media platforms, such as Google+ and Facebook, have ways to create closed communities you and your friends can interact within. Google+ Communities allows you to create a wall on which to share online material, as well as upload your own photos, videos and text. You can also plan events, such as Google Hangouts and get RSVPs from all your fellow travelers, so you can all catch up just like old times. Facebook, on the other hand, allows you to create private groups. Like Google+, you’ll be able to share videos, links and upload pictures. However, Facebook doesn’t provide a face-to-face video client. Which service you decide to use is up to you and largely depends on what platform you and your friends use more often. Check out this more comprehensive comparison.
Staying involved with someone on a personal level means more than just a funny meme you post on a group page. The friends you made while abroad want to know you’re keeping track of their lives, just like they take an active interest in yours. Remember birthdays, anniversaries and the holidays. Mail a gift for big occasions, or have a special delivery sent. This shows you remembered the milestone and also that you’re thinking of them, no matter how far away you live from each other.
Consistency & Regularity
Little things can help keep you close. Snap a silly photo with apps like Instagram or Snapchat, or send along a link to an interesting article you read. It’s simple, but engaging in back and forth conversation like this, even if only once or twice a week, makes you both feel more connected to each other. Including these friends in your everyday tasks means they don’t feel so far away. Be consistent and be careful not to go too many days or weeks without connecting. Check out WhatsApp or Viber, two apps for free international texting.
Schedule phone dates and then, don’t bail on them. If you live in a different time zone, finding a time can be hard, but it’s important to take time to talk on the phone regularly. It will do wonders for your friendship.
Long Distance Club
It’s difficult to know what to talk about at times with someone who leads such a different life than your own. Your long distance friend may be from another continent, culture and have a different worldview from your own. However, pop culture can transcend these things. Connect with your friend by starting a movie club or book club and watch or read the same things before talking about them the next week. This way you automatically have something to share and aren’t not stuck with small talk.