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The holidays can be a lonely time when you are far away from the people who are nearest and dearest to your heart. Any time of the year it can be agonizing to helplessly scroll through their lives on social media, removed from the types of details that bring stories to life. It’s FOMO on a whole new level. When it’s December though, you may become acutely aware of how out-of-the-loop you are in the lives of important people in your life. It may also remind you of the traditions you are missing out on that you try to recreate in your new home. Either way, it’s nothing nice.

Living abroad, it’s understandable to have trouble connecting with events happening in your friends’ lives if you aren’t around to take part in it. They may even have a hard time remembering to include you if staying in touch doesn’t come easily for you (shout out to all the introverts out there).

That is why it is important to make sure you’re staying in touch throughout the year to not only share what’s going on with you but also be looped into what is going on with them.

Particularly around the holidays, it’s understandable to want to be with them to share in the joy of the season. If you missed out this season on showing how much you care, resolve to do better in 2019 by showing them from afar that you are thinking of them and that they are important to you despite the distance.

The costs of traveling back home can be prohibitively expensive, but it can mean the world to your loved ones and your children to find ways to have face-time that isn’t on a screen. Conversely, it can be so rewarding to host the people you care about in your adopted country. For the people who are able to visit, you have the chance to share your new life with them. It’s also an opportunity to bond over the experience of being together in a new place (think spring break in Cancun without the college-age hijinx). Their time with you will also feel special because you of all people know what the trip is like, and appreciate people even more for making the journey when they are able.

The apps and services that I have come to rely on more heavily since our move are the types of things that will help you share your world easily, talk like you are in the same time zone and send tokens of your affection from anywhere on the globe.

My favorite app that I was using consistently, even before we moved, is Tinybeans. When my children were born, many of my friends were still childless, so I wanted to be sensitive to the fact that they probably didn’t want to see my kids in their feed every day. I also wanted to have some control over who was having access to their photos online. TinyBeans put my mind at ease that the photos and videos I was posting were being protected and I could order prints whenever I wanted.

This next app is likely to be a staple for many people, but for anyone who isn’t familiar, WhatsApp is the way to connect with family and friends in different countries. I first used it when we would take vacations to the Caribbean, Europe, and South America so that I could talk to my mom and to stay connected to family that lived outside the U.S. Now that we live in Thailand, it is my lifeline to everyone I want to stay connected with.

My third “go to” resource is Shutterfly. I started using it before we moved abroad, but I became more aware of its value after our move. It is super easy to use, the cards and other items I create look fantastic, and with our U.S. address, I can still send my gifts domestically. It is the only way that I can connect with all our friends and family in one shot without a considerable expense.

Are there other tools and apps that you can’t live without to stay in touch with your loved ones? How will you stay connected with those who are dear to you in 2019?

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