When I was growing up, moving was the worst thing that could (and did) happen. Social media and cell phones were only in their toddler stage. The only way I could communicate with the friends I left behind was by snail mail and email.
Friends and I would send a letters back and forth. But little by little those communications died down until I only received forwarded chain emails. The ones that warned of impending doom if you break the chain. Eventually, even those stopped. Thus, I learned at a young age:
Traveling means loneliness.
There was just one problem. I love traveling! Did I have to choose between friendship and seeing the world?
Of course not. Read on for the 5 secrets I use to stay in touch with friends.
1. Reframe your definition of “Keep in Touch”
You don’t have to talk every day, or even every month, to stay friends. As someone whose natural instinct is to feel abandoned when someone doesn’t text me back for days, this was so important to learn.
It was my trip to Canada in 2019 that opened my eyes. I hadn’t seen the two friends I travelled with in years and it had been a couple months since we’d even texted. I was worried that I wouldn’t recognize one of them. The last time I had seen her, we had been teenagers. Didn’t people’s faces change? (Spoiler: not that much).
But the moment we saw each other, everything was…normal. Just like unpausing a movie. We continued right where we left off. After writing play in order to make it seem like the ugly masks we made for our Art History project were actually supposed to be ugly…well, not much can get in the way of that bond.
And to further prove my point: I hadn’t talked to either of them more than a couple times since the trip, not even to let them know I was writing about it. But soon after the post went live, they both had texted me, reminiscing on happy memories.
Pro Tip! Don’t be afraid to reach out! No need to wait for someone else to make the first move.
2. Reminisce on Great Memories
Want to keep in touch with friends? Make great memories while you’re together!
It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Take for example my friend Steph. We were cabinmates for an ecological research technician position in Minnesota. Like most of these positions, it was seasonal. We only worked together for three months before we parted ways. But if I ever want to reignite conversation, I just have to send one text message:
Wishing for hot chocolate and a double rainbow...
The day we first met, as we were getting settled in the cabin, it started raining. We were equally excited (we’re both from desert areas) and ran out on the porch. A double rainbow greeted us. Soon, we were sitting on the porch ledge, each with a warm mug of hot chocolate. Not just any chocolate, Torani Puremade Sauce chocolate. She swears by it, and I’ve got to agree it’s pretty high quality stuff. (Want to try it? Buy it on Amazon).
Thus, our friendship began. And with a foundation of chocolate, what could break us apart?
Pro Tip! Good memories are often tied to food…
3. Work on a Project Together
When you first move away from each other, it’s likely that you’ll have less in common. Perhaps when you were in the same city, you were accustomed to meeting for lunch every day. Or maybe, you’ve lived together (as I have in many field technician positions).
Those built-in conversations and interactions no longer exist. Working on a project together gives you back some of that common ground.
Last summer, a long-distance friend and I spent three months working on a webcomic contest. We didn’t win, but we had fun! And even the stressful, last-minute drawing was special, because it strengthened the bond of friendship.
Pro Tip! Do something you both enjoy! Otherwise, this tip will probably backfire…
4. Become PenPals
I know I was complaining about snail mail in my introduction, but when intentional it’s actually a great way to get to know one another! My friend Anna randomly sent me a card by mail one day and since then we’ve been writing back and forth.
Of course, it comes with a small drawback. Timing. She learned about my blog three-four days after all my other friends. And I had to wait another three-four days for her response. But that only adds to the charm!
By the way, if you need a writer, editor, or writing consultant, check out Anna’s page!
Pro Tip! Pretty stationary makes this even better! I have gone crazy buying all kinds of bird stationary, such as this one.
5. Plan a Trip
And, to bring it full circle, plan a trip! Are you all daredevils? Go ziplining somewhere! Lovers of Disney? Visit the theme parks–you have two options on opposite coasts! Or visit them in their home city. If you’re lucky, they’ll live in LA, if you’re less lucky, they might live in Midland, TX. Either way, nothing is better than reuniting with a long-distance friend.
Friendship is one of my favorite parts of life. So, if you’re reading this and you’re my friend, feel free to reach out!
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