Whether you’ve found yourself a long way from home, or you’ve made friends with those who have travelled away, it’s just as important to maintain those friendships as it is to make new ones, or at least with those that matter most to you. We say this on behalf of you both, from experience and as a matter-of-fact.
Maybe it was easy to stay in touch at first, but now it’s a big effort in this new life you’ve created, and you’re struggling to find the time to fit both your old and new friends in. Well those friends that aren’t part of your daily life anymore will still have an understanding and bond with you that no one in your new life can recreate. That might be in the form of special memories, emotional difficulties, life-changing experiences, big chapters in your life, you name it. Those that know or experienced this history with you will always be better at providing emotional support should you need it. They’ll also frequently be the easiest to talk to about things too, especially if God forbid something happens to a mutual friend or family member. On top of this, whoever was left behind in this scenario will, most of the time, have a tougher job at missing the other too. They may actually be feeling a little abandoned and this is totally normal, but making an effort to maintain your friendship will also help them feel like they mattered and that they aren’t so easy to get over. Or that this new life of yours hasn’t been chosen over them.
Here’s our top 10 ways to maintain your long-distance friendships
1. Download or add your friend’s time zone on your phone
Ok you’ll probably barely check this, but seeing it every so often can remind you of those connections and give you an idea if it’s a good time to get in touch and share something that happened that day.
2. Like/follow the local or country news page(s) on Facebook
You’d be surprised how much more connected you feel when you know more about what’s going on at home / where they are, able to understand the environment they’re in or even the office banter! It also provides many opportunities to drop in with a chat.
3. Download and utilise a messenger app
Whatsapp is a great easy phone app to message, share photos, audio messages or even call and best of all, it’s completely free. It uses the internet to connect so even if you’re on your travels all you need to do is find a cafe or a free wi-fi spot and wallah, you’re in touch! Another great use of Whatsapp is to make a group and add the circle of friends you most want to keep in touch with so you can update them all / ask about things, all at the same time - a handy way to always know about the latest happenings and events in your friends lives. Personally, I’m a big writer, and if you have this problem too then you should consider downloading Whatsapp on your computer. You’ll need to phone to log in and then you’re away!
Love it or hate it, Facebook messenger is free and is another messaging app you could utilise to send messages or do phone/video calls. What’s more, it’s actually possible to just download the messenger app without using the Facebook one, if you’re trying to stay clear or in a cleanse.
Our final app suggestion would be Skype, though everyone seems to have the same issue of forgetting their log in details and ends up with multiple accounts and not sure which one is the right one. So do yourself a favour, when you set your account up, make a note of your username and a hint to yourself about your password in your phone notes or somewhere! It’s free to use but there is the option to actually purchase credit and that’s for making phone calls that don’t use the internet. I don’t actually know of anyone that’s still utilising this option being that internet seems to be absolutely everywhere now, but it’s a good thing to know about just in case!
4. Go full cheese and get matching PJs (sleepwear) or outfits
Send a selfie when you wear it too and give them a chance to copy and be in sync! Wear it when you Skype too, you’ll feel the connection instantly and who cares if it’s corny, this is for the sake of friendship.
5. Utilise your mobile phone networks international packages
The 4 major phone providers in New Zealand are Vodafone, Spark, Skinny and 2degrees. Each with their own benefits, but we’ve outlined below their international calls and text options which might be important to you when selecting who to commit to.
Vodafone: The NZ Travel Sim has three options to choose from, with the cheapest option at $29 for 30 days provides you with 1.5GB of data, 200 International Talk + Text to many of the major countries including UK, USA, Ireland, Hong Kong, Germany, France etc. Plus 30 day chat pass, which means your data is used when using Facebook messenger or Whatsupp.
Spark: The NZ Travel has three options as well, with the cheapest being $29 per month with 1 GB of data, 100 International Talk minutes + 50 International Texts.
Skinny: The NZ Travel Sim has three options as well, with the cheapest being $28, which will get you 2 GB of data and 200 minutes of international calls.
2degrees: don’t have a travel sim pack. The cheapest package deal is $19 per month, where you get 1.5 GB data, 200 minutes of calls (carryover) to NZ and AUS only, unlimited calls + text to other 2degrees numbers
6.Not ready for the commitment of a network / phone package? Check out Rebtel
Rebtel provides international phone calling, with deals starting from $10 per month for unlimited calling to 56 countries. This is particularly great if you have dodgy internet and your connection is driving you crazy as it uses the phone lines to connect. Use when you need it, as you need it.
7. For those not scared of the kitchen - share some recipes
Whether it’s just cooking the same thing from back home, or sharing a new cultural dish you want them to try - share and make the same recipe! Either you’ll be comforted by taste of home, or you’ll experience a new cultural food that your friend is eating, either way, send the photos, and have a good laugh or congratulations on how they turned out.
8. Send a physical letter or package
Who doesn’t love receiving a REAL letter or parcel in the post, whether you admit it or not, it’s exciting! And if you’ve received one before from afar you’ll know how much it means to see a letter that’s been handwritten, perhaps with a photo, token, or if you’re lucky, an array of surprise gifts/treats alongside it. These can go either way, if you’re receiving one from home it’s usually referred to as a ‘care package’. But even if it’s just the letter, it’s never just a letter. It means the other person has gone out of their way to set aside some time just for you, and physically hand-write an update or message - something that’s unfortunately become quite a rarity these days. It’s time out of their day to write, stamp and send and it means a whole lot to the person receiving it, and warms the heart! Typically, I feel like this is a female activity but wouldn’t it be great it men did this more too? Embrace the bromance guys.
If you’re posting from New Zealand, NZ Post are very reliable and if you subscribe to their newsletters they’ll send you reminders of deadlines to post things by if you want to get something there in time, like Christmas, Easter, Mothers Day, Fathers day etc. They also have courier options, if you remember last minute that it’s your mum’s birthday next week. But don’t always rely on the last minute courier, for NZ is a long way from everything and you’ve got to also factor in the courier reliability on the other side!
9. Watch the same films, TV shows, or read the same books to chat about together
Think about it, if they were here, yes you’d probably do this at the same time… but not always! I’m sure you have other friends here that also watch those things but in a different house to you. Or even your work colleagues. And I’m sure you have amble to say about the latest episode of Game of Thrones, or how mad you are that Steven Avery is still locked up. You can still do that with your long-distant friends from afar. Pick a TV show and binge watch it at the same time! Then catch up and you can almost feel like they were watching it with you.
10. Make or buy matching bracelets, necklaces, or even a photo keyring
It can actually be a very powerful thing to always carry that little reminder and connection of your favourite person or people with you. Just by seeing it you’ll remember, if only for a second, your friend/s and will help to keep the connection alive. It’s also a great thing to have should you be in a situation where you would normally talk to them / seek support and can’t. Say for example you are stressing about an upcoming meeting at work, just take a second, hold that connection to your friend in your hand, and think what would they say to reassure you in this situation. You can gain a heap of strength from that and keep their guidance and friendship with you in the tough and the great situations you’re bound to face.
Something cheap like a friendship bracelet holds this magic, but if you want to get fancy and upgrade the connection, check out something like a ‘Bond Touch’. Basically it’s a bracelet but it has the functionality to send a signal to your friend’s matching bracelet and vibrate slightly so they know you’re thinking of them. Is it completely over the top, or pretty awesome? We can’t decide.
Ok basically what we’re saying is, stay in touch. The effort is totally worth it and there’s multiple fun ways you can keep your friendship up-to-date and always have friends no matter where you are in the world.. which is a pretty cool feeling.