5 Tips for Maintaining Long-Distance Relationships

By Jessica Howell

Skyping Sometimes, relocating an hour or two further from your mother-in-law doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world. But oftentimes, moving far from family can feel like a devastating transition. It’s nearly impossible to put on the brakes once you’ve boarded the what-if train. What if I can’t find a babysitter that can dance Gangnam style with my four-year-old? Where can I land a dog walker that won’t threaten legal action when Fido does that weird leg-humping thing? What if not a single barista in town can brew a decent caramel macchiato?! Thankfully, the technology gods have blessed us with some savvy solutions for minimizing the distance between us. And that’s good, because someone will need to talk you off that crazy train.

Set a Digital Date

Squeezing in a quick call once you’ve folded the laundry seems easy enough, but the truth is that you’re more likely to set aside the time to appropriately catch up with folks when it’s on the calendar. Send an invite – including the day, time and channel of communication Ó to make it official. Online tools like Skype and Google Hangouts offer free or low-cost options to easily connect via video; all you’ll need is a webcam. Even easier are cell phone-based options like FaceTime, offered on select Apple iPhones, which save you the trouble of booting up your PC. With one click, you can dial up a compatible iPhone user for a face-to-face video chat. (Tip: Connect to your wireless internet for a smoother stream than your cellular network connection will offer.) Schedule a morning chat and bond over breakfast. Or, catch up in the evening, when you can both dial up with a delicious drink in hand.

Send Snapshots on the Go

Uploading perfectly posed pictures to Facebook is so passe. These days, cool kids use instantaneous tools like Snapchat to stay in touch on the go. The app allows you to snap a photo or film a quick video, add a caption, and shoot it off to one or more of your contacts. The brilliance behind Snapchat is in its spontaneity. Within 10 seconds of seeing it, the photo or film will automatically delete from the recipient’s phone. Think of it as a quick fix for loved ones. Send a goofy Snapchat photo to let them know that despite the distance, they’re on your mind. Encourage friends to do the same, and aim for a healthy mix of text messages and photos to stay in the loop.

Share a Laugh, for No Particular Reason

Sometimes it can be tough to gauge bad-day blues over the phone. Circumvent your BFF’s moody day with a laugh-out-loud e-card. Popular sites like Someecards offer up quips like, “I’m lost and weird without you here.” For more customized, but equally humorous options, visit JibJab, a site that will insert a photo of your lovely face into an animated card. Want to superimpose your little brother’s face onto the head of an Arabian Nights princess that happens to be seductively gyrating her hips? Done. I assure you, this tactic is bound to cheer up anyone-other than the victim (ahem, star) of your card, naturally.

Set Up a “Home Base” Site

Grandma just created a Facebook account, but that doesn’t mean she’s privy to your Instagram photos or tweets. Make it easy by compiling all of your juiciest tidbits in a singular site like Howwwl, ideal for those that crave community but don’t want the commitment of a blog. Friends can follow you using your user name, or you can share your posts on other social media channels. Another option to keep the whole family on the same page-literally-is to create a home-base hub using a tool like Shutterfly’s Family Photo Share Sites. In addition to posting your photos in a setting that makes it easy for Aunt Carol to order prints of your pictures, you can share videos, write blog posts and even include calendar events.

Snail Mail It

Dig out your address book, buy a book of stamps and go retro. There’s nothing more exciting than a brightly colored envelope peeking out from a stack of bills, or an unexpected brown box on your doorstep. It triggers thoughts like: I really need to stop shopping online; I don’t even remember what I ordered. Did the delivery guy confuse my house with the neighbors AGAIN? Could it be an unexpected care package; could it really, really be a special gift for me? See? Just one unexpected box on a porch and the average adult reverts to childhood, wide-eyed and eagerly ripping through packing tape. Whether it’s homemade cookies, a good book being passed along, or a sweet card from colleagues, there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned drop-off from the mailman in today’s instant gratification world.