The holiday season is just around the corner, which means time with family and friends celebrating the joy of the season. However, if you or your friends and loved ones are stationed overseas, the holidays can seem not quite as festive.
Not long ago, staying in touch with friends and family stationed overseas meant calling cards, exorbitant international calling rates, calculating time differences and waiting on letters and packages to arrive.
With modern technology, like Wi-Fi, video calling, social media and smart phones, staying in touch with loved ones overseas during the holiday season is much easier than it used to be. Check out this holiday guide for staying in touch with family overseas during the holiday season.
One of the amazing benefits of modern video technology is the ability to see the person you’re talking to in crisp detail with very little delay. Video calling is the number one tip for staying in touch with overseas friends and family members. Companies like InterCall.com provide high-tech options for video calling.
Skype is another popular option for video calling, with free video calls to anyone who also uses the service, low rates to mobile phones and landlines worldwide, text message for only pennies a day and desktop, laptop, mobile or tablet access and apps. Video calling is a perfect solution for daily one-on-one calls with loved ones overseas.
Leave it to Google to bring the next big thing in video calling to families overseas longing to connect with family groups in the US. With a Google Plus profile, you can start chat hangouts with anyone on your friends list and share emojis, photos and text with a group.
Bring your family events to life with the video feature – another free addition to Hangouts – and connect up to 10 different video screens at once. Add the Google Hangout plugin to your computer, tablet or mobile device, and you’re all set. Google Hangouts are a great option for group get togethers, family dinners or other holiday traditions. Each group on the Hangout has their own screen, and everyone on the call can hear everything going on – so get loud, laugh and help your family overseas feel more connected.
If texting is your thing, WhatsApp is a great solution for texting friends and family overseas in real-time. WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile app available for almost any phone system: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone are all included.
WhatsApp runs through your internet data plan and through Wi-Fi, so you won’t have to pay extra for SMSs. WhatsApp is perfect for quick, daily communication with your friends and family overseas, as well as sending photos, video and audio messages to make your family feel closer to you during the Holidays.
Social media services alone help us feel more connected to our family overseas, but for a more personalized touch, consider starting a private Facebook Group for your family. Each member with a Facebook account can be added to the group, allowing you to send group messages, share photos, add documents for the entire family to access, and create events.
Privacy can be set to secret, so only your family will be able to access chats and messages. Facebook Groups are a great solution for quick, daily communication with a large group of family members.
With all the technology available to us, it’s easy to shy away from good old-fashioned letter writing, but during the holidays, this is an important step to staying in touch with your family overseas.
Collect cards from other friends, relatives, church members, or anyone else who may be close to your family stationed overseas and ask them to write a personal note to the family. Make sure to collect and send a few weeks before the holidays so your family can use them as decorations – or just a reminder of how much they are loved.Author profile: Amanda is a social media manager for a health care organization by day and a blogger and freelance writer by night. She’s also a mom to an amazing 2 year-old boy and wife to a great guy who indulges all her celebrity gossip. Amanda loves coffee, fashion, Twitter, makeup, nail polish, and cats (not always in that order.) Her work has been published on family.com and blogher.com. For more celebrity gossip, fashion, beauty and DIY, visit Amanda’s blog, It’s Blogworthy (http://itsblogworthy.com) or follow her on Twitter and Google+.