When you’re traveling or living abroad sometimes you need to get creative about how you’re going to keep up connections.

1. Post gifts.

It’s easy to forget about the pleasures of sending and receiving small gifts in this very digital world. For example, my friend who just had a baby recently received a small package of baby clothes from a school friend who is now living in the middle east. It was so exciting for the baby to get it’s first overseas package before she was even 2 weeks old.

A friend of mine recently told me that her Dad sends small packages of toys out to his grandkids every 2-3 weeks. The toys and games are usually under $5 from a dollar store or similar. Their rule is the packages have to be opened during a video chat so it helps them keep the connection. This post has 50 ideas for gifts you can buy at Dollar stores.

2. Know your family’s schedule.

If you want to regularly call your family then it’s a good idea to get to know their schedule. For example, my Mum has her bridge game once a week and I know that calling that evening is no good but that other times in the week are much better times to catch her. My Step Dad has Thursdays off work but often works weekends. I know that he loves to be called on Thursdays during the day as he knows that the call is intended especially for him. My Mum is so busy that sometimes a 2 minute call in the mornings when she is getting ready for work is what works best. I know it’ll need to be a very short call but I also know she’ll actually be home!

A quick call to someone’s cell is often just as appreciated as a marathon long phone call.

Use Google calendar recurring events to keep track of birthdays and anniversaries and the like.

3. Keep in touch with people you meet when you’re traveling.

Most people say they’re going to keep in touch with people they’ve met traveling but never do. There can be huge rewards from following up. For example, my parents in law go on vacations with another couple who they first met on a cruise. Since none of the rest of our family are particularly into cruises it’s awesome that they have found some cruising buddies.

When you’re traveling in developing countries, get the cell phone numbers of local people you meet who you want to stay in touch with e.g., a driver who you might want to use again on another visit. In poorer countries, people tend to keep in touch by phone since they don’t usually have laptops or don’t have good enough English writing skills for email. If you need to call international cell phones then consider using an international broadband service as this can often be cheaper than Skype calls to a cell phone.

You might consider having some business cards made that. You can do this very cheaply in developing countries or using online printing services in your home country.