One of the hardest things about long-term travel is saying goodbye. Whether you’re the one leaving or the one staying behind, when you’re away from the person or people you love, staying sane can be a challenge. You might not feel it right away, but once in a while, even the most seasoned of travelers have a bad day. And if you’re stuck in a strange city when nostalgia hits, things can look pretty bleak.
Now it goes without saying that an adventure is an adventure because it is full of unexpected mishaps, surprise destinations and random acts of folly. No one expects you to be on your phone all the time, or updating your Facebook status by checking-in at every crossroad. They do however, expect you to touch base when time allows. Unfortunately, and despite the very best of intentions, the spontaneous nature of travel means that it can also be really,really hard to keep in touch.
For your benefit, and that of the people you love, it can be really useful to come up with a routine way of keeping people up to date with where you are, the adventures you’re having and the general on-goings of life on the road. Here are ways to keep in touch with the ones you love while living the dream and discovering the world:
1. Start a blog
Blogging is a great way for you to keep loved ones in the loop and record your adventures for years to come! The great things about blogs is that they can be whatever you want them to be: long, short, serious, humorous – and they can deal with whatever subject matter you see fit. Write about your travels, and then write about mango sticky rice because you tried some in Thailand and it’s your new favourite treat. It’s not hard. It doesn’t take a lot of time. And you don’t have to be an IT whiz to get things going. Check out sites that offer free blogs like WordPress or Blogger and get stared before you take-off.
2. Mass e-mails
Mass e-mailing is great because you can do it whenever you want and send specific information to those people you really want to talk to. And then they can reply individually. This is a great time saver and good for the person who doesn’t have the patience to reply to everyone on an individual basis.
3. Update your Facebook on a consistent basis
I didn’t say regular, I said consistent. Updating Facebook every two or three weeks adds a degree of consistency to that missing routine. Honestly, this is more for people who aren’t blogging and are crap at doing the mass e-mail thing. By updating your Facebook on a consistent basis, people know not to expect a lot of updates, but can look forward to timely messages from the one they miss.
4. Upload your pictures!
What’s that? A picture is worth a thousand words? Sweet. And true! Nowadays, text isn’t always necessary to keep people in the know. Granted, a short email to those you really love is probably a good idea, but just seeing a photo of you standing next to the tower of Pisa or sitting atop a dune in the Sahara desert as you gaze into the sunset let’s people know that you’re safe and sound, and having a ball. People want to be part of this fun and exciting adventure you’re on, so take the time to let them.
5. Welcome to the 21st century. It’s called Skype.
Skype rocks. It’s free and gives you face time with the inner circle back home. Set up a phone date once every two weeks where you put aside an hour or so to catch up face to face with those you love. This is reserved for the immediate family, girlfriends, boyfriends and the best of friends. Your time is precious – but remember, so is theirs. They want to take the time to see you and be reassured that all is A-OK; appreciate the effort they’re going to just to check in with you and take that one hour to focus on them. Ask them questions about their lives (they’ll know a lot about what you’re doing because of your blog or mass e-mail) and then you can go back to your adventure and focus on you for the rest of the week.
6. Send souvenirs and request a care-package!
This is a two part tip! If you’re traveling for pleasure and jumping from place to place, it might be hard to request a care package from family back home. If however, your trip includes a stent working or volunteering overseas, put in a request for your favourite sweets or treats! Family will love that you miss them enough to want a reminder of things back home and getting a ‘taste’ of what you left behind will bring you comfort on the bluest of days. Now, as you skip across the country, be sure to collect odds and ends you think would be valued by those VIPs in your life back home. Once in a while send home a little package to be distributed among the family/close friends you’ve left behind. This helps remind them that they’re on your mind despite the distance in-between. Even small or inexpensive gifts can leave a big impression and help them feel connected.
7. Greetings from [ ]!
If you’re traveling light and don’t have the money to spend on material items, simply send postcards instead! Postcards are an affordable way to say a quick hello from the cities you love and provide loved ones with the same comfort as souvenirs, without breaking the budget.
8. Take a long some old fashioned photos of your nearest and dearest
A great way to avoid feeling lonely while traveling is to take a few pictures (real, not digital) along with you. Whether you shove them deep in the depths of your backpack or use them as bookmarks so you see them every day, it’s great to have pictures available for the long overnight train ride when homesickness kicks in or on the day where everything that could go wrong, does.
9. Wear your heart on your sleeve – literally! Or wrist, or backpack, or…
A little thing that I find provides comfort when I’m on the road is wearing something that reminds me of someone close to me back home, a talisaman os sorts. Whether it’s a guardian angel pin your grandmother gave you, a key chain photo of a younger sibling, or a friendship bracelet that makes you smile every time you reach for your backpack, keeping important pieces from home visible makes it feel like you’re not alone on your journey – and, really, you’re not!
10. “Thinking of you”
Finally, a great way to stay connected is to send one liners to people who pop into your head as you embark on the journey of a lifetime. You don’t always need to send paragraph upon paragraph of updates. Did you see a statue that reminded you of your girlfriend? Tell her! Meet a guy on the train who reminds you of your best friend from home? Let him know! Friends and family at home want to know they’re on your mind, and not forgotten. Take the time to send small notes of love and light, and let them know you love them.
How do you connect with people when you’re traveling overseas?