Ever since I started travelling, I’ve been a pretty reliable messenger. I post my Facebook updates, use Twitter, blog quite a lot, call home every now and then, even throw in the occasional postcard and started to use Skype more since I started living in Sydney.
I keep in touch with home often and am not the type of person to go hitch-hiking for half a year and leave everyone at home worried sick until they finally hear from me.
I’ve never had problems to regularly contact family and friends back home, because I like to write and tell my story. To find a moment each day to document my journey gives me time to process everything I’ve seen and done and clears my head for new adventures. Especially when I travelled solo, I found it a great way to end most my days… no matter where in the world I was!
Blogging from the ‘Ecotricity Hut’ on the remote Vorovoro Island, Fiji 2008
Is keeping in touch when travelling hard?
The reception desk of the hostel I currently work at, is right next to the guest computers, so I hear a lot of travellers contacting home. And to be honest, that isn’t always a huge success. It can be hard to explain life changing experiences through a blurry video chat, when your parents just want you to come home or can’t really visualise all the things you’ve seen.
I see people writing a blog sighing, because it’s what people back home expect of them, when all they want is to go outside and have fun. And then there are guests who contact home when they feel upset – which is generally not a recipe for success. So it can be hard to report back home when you´re travelling, to find a way to get all these amazing moments across.
And let’s be honest: there isn’t really any Facebook status that can explain a sunrise over the ocean, the poverty in the streets of India, or that one night spend with people from all over the world, that you’ve just met but feel like you’ve known for years.
Creative ways to keep in Touch
With a little effort (from both sides) you can make your journey a lot more memorable for everyone, without it feeling like an obligation.
1. Wrap It Up
Who doesn’t like a secret package? I know I do! Especially when you’re in one place for a little longer, receiving or sending a little box with local goodiesis a great way of sharing where you are or remembering where you came from!
A box full of Dutch goodies
2. Secret Printout
I’ve never done this, but I found this tip online and thought it was a lot of fun: buy a disposable camera, shoot away and send it back home undeveloped. Surprise for both sender as receiver!
3. Podcast Away
To hear someone’s voice always makes you feel closer to that person. So either call home (Skype is available almost everywhere in the world now) or record a personal message. Don’t forget to record sounds that are typical for the place you’re in: waterfalls, the ocean, bird sounds, traffic, people talking on the train or in the supermarket, a local song you always hear on the radio, etc.
4. Handwritten Cards
Me and my brother used to always get postcards from my grandma on our holiday destination. All of the family would sit around the table in the tent, trying to decipher her handwriting and loving the kind words she wrote us. I’ve liked handwritten postcards ever since and can never leave to buy some cards on my trips. With the Postcrossing Project you can even send and receive cards from people you’ve never met. A great way to get to know people from different countries and cultures.
You can also write a card in advance for every special occasion during the time you are away, with dates on the envelope for your family to open. Also an idea to reverse and give to someone leaving. My cousin did this for me, so we would have a card from her on our birthdays, Easter, Dutch Queens Day and Christmas.
Our postcard wall in Sydney
When you’re separated with friends or family, you will find that the things you miss most are the daily routines. Simple things, like going to the movies or making dinner together. What if you can share these activities – even when you’re not together? Pick a day in the week where you can both do the same activity at the same time. Read the same book, do yoga, rent a movie, go swimming, follow the same recipe, whatever you both like! Afterwards there is plenty of time to catch up and talk about that movie you just watched ‘together’.
Another idea is to both keep up a photo diary of things you did on a day. Have a look at the amazing ‘3191′ project, of two friends that lived 3191 miles apart and share a picture of their morning every day for over a year.
When you don’t have enough time to both do an activity together, or when you’re travelling from place to place all the time, it might be fun to give each other some goals to work on for a certain period (Think Bucket List). Have a look on the ‘43 Things‘ website for some great ideas.
It can be hard sometimes to keep in touch with home while you are travelling, but when you put a little effort in it, it can be a lot of fun as well!
How do you keep in contact with home when you travel? Or do you keep off the radar as much as possible? Let us know!