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For the past couple of years I’ve been traveling or living abroad far more than I’ve been at home and, naturally, many of my relationships and friendships with people in my pre-Thailand life have changed or even disappeared. I think the two-year mark was the real turning point in terms of lost communication and connection…for Christmas I didn’t receive a single message from friends. Admittedly, I didn’t put much effort in either, just sending Christmas postcards home to a select few (that ended up arriving after Christmas), but it was still a little wake up call that I need to spend some more time reconnecting.
So what do you do to stay in touch while traveling or living abroad?
I don’t think you should be constantly connected while traveling, and while living abroad it’s necessary to cut some ties to save yourself from feeling like you’re living dual lives in two separate places. But, if you’re going to be a away for a while you need to keep up some form of consistent communication – email, Facebook messages, chat – to make sure those relationships are there when you get home.
Skype has completely changed how to stay in contact while on the road and is one of the main ways I keep in touch with family. Though you can’t always rely on it as you don’t always have internet access, and even when you do it can sometimes be spotty with poor connection, it’s so simple and cheap to call other computers and phones.
You know, like in the mail. A full letter would be even better, but a postcard will do just fine. On one hand, they’re kind of silly, but on the other, particularly when fewer people take the time to use the post, sending a simple postcard has more meaning than ever. And who doesn’t enjoy receiving mail?
Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of what day it is when you’re constantly on the move or don’t have a set routine, and when you’re living in another country, where holidays and seasons are different, it’s easy to let holidays slip. Christmas in Thailand certainly does not feel like Christmas and there are no reminders to get your shopping done early. Being so far away and still remembering the important dates and events means a lot to the people you care for. I was home for my birthday this year, but the first message I received was an email from a friend in Bangkok. I was so surprised and touched by the simple gesture and the fact that she remembered. The simplest things can make people feel extremely special and worth the little bit of effort especially when it means keeping a friendship or letting it slip away.
What do you do to keep up with friends and family back at home?