This post is by David VanArsdale, one of our contributors.
Oh you can picture their face, but you can’t remember their name. How frustrating is that?
If you’re like me, you’ve been in this situation before. It’s one of the many signs that you haven’t kept your word for all of the times you genuinely yelled “Keep in touch!” as you waived goodbye. But staying in contact with people you’ve met abroad can be a challenge – even with the friends who you really connected with. So read these 5 tips and don’t let those amazing travel relationships fade away.
1. Take home addresses instead of emails. Go old school. Send letters, postcards, knickknack’s, whatever. Mail is still one of the most personal and interesting forms of communication. In my opinion, one thoughtful letter is more valuable than 100 Facebook messages that simply say “Hey, what’s new?” You may have forgotten, but writing someone a letter is actually a fun activity. And who doesn’t like getting mail? It always brightens my day to find something in my mailbox with a foreign stamp on it.
2. Reality check. Let’s be real. You won’t be keeping in touch with everyone you met while you were out traveling. And I’m sorry to say, that probably includes that one really cute girl (or guy). Stick with the people who you feel had an impact on your travel experience and those who match your efforts to stay in touch. Hopefully you’re at the age where the amount of friends you have on Facebook doesn’t matter as much as who you’re friends with.
3. Skype call. Once a month. On a set date. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but it can make your life a lot simpler. You’ll spend less time worrying and stressing about emailing or messaging that person, and it gives you a specific day to look forward to every month. Besides the fact that it’s free, using Skype will most likely make you all nostalgic about traveling — which is a good thing.
4. Email. Facebook. Twitter. Duh. Pick your poison and pick it quickly. Not that there is anything wrong with contacting an old friend after a few months have gone by, but in my experience, it usually gets more and more awkward as time passes. An email is still more personal than a social media message, but commenting on those Facebook pictures where you’re tagged with your fellow nomads is a great way to tell those people you’re thinking about them.
5. Start planning a reunion — now. Whether it’s with one person or 10 people, reunions are reminders that your friendships are truly still alive. Planning reunions can get complicated and the final arrangements might be a little inconvenient for you, so remember to utilize the skills that traveling has taught you: flexibility, patience, cooperation, and open mindedness.
Reunions can be a surreal experience. It seems like yesterday that you were in Australia sharing delicious kebabs after dancing all night to techno music, and now you’re sitting in an air-conditioned Starbucks in NYC. But that makes your friendship so much more dynamic. Yes it may seem a little anti-climatic compared to your wild, gallivants in a foreign country, but reunions are the best for: stabilizing your friendships, reminiscing, and making those new memories that you’ll reminisce about at the next reunion.
*article and image by David VanArsdale