Lately, it seems like everyone’s moving overseas. London, we’re looking at you! If your friend has just jetted off, or if you’re the one who made the move, don’t stress. Being far away doesn’t mean that you can’t stay close. It just means that you have to make more of an effort. Here are our top tips for keeping your long-distance friendships as strong as ever.
Start sending emails. Best friends always have three different conversations going on at once: texts, Facebook messages, DMs etc. Add email to the mix and use it to send big life updates and rambling thoughts. This is the millennial’s version of getting a letter in the mail. When you see that email pop up, you know you’re about to catch up on all the dirty deets of your friend’s life. You can even add comments throughout the body of the email (in a different font colour) to make it feel like more of a convo.
Set a standing date. Choose a day/time that works for both of you, like every Sunday night or the first Monday of the month, and do everything in your power to keep that date. With jobs, new friends, family, boyfriends and life admin, people go on with their lives – but having a set date to chat really helps.
Save their weather forecast on your phone. The fact is, the weather affects our day-to-day life. It influences our outfits, commute, and weekend plans. An easy way to stay connected to your friends is to keep tabs on the weather, especially if you live in an opposite climate to them. For example, when I’m in a middle of a blizzard in New York, my friends are melting in a Sydney summer, and we empathise with each other. “I would do ANYTHING to go for a swim right now” – me, about 17543 times last winter; “OMG, the snow looks so pretty!” – them.
Create a shared calendar. Include the important dates, like birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries. Oh, and set a sneaky reminder two weeks before their birthday/Christmas if you want to send them a pressie.
Share the mundane stuff. When you live in different cities/countries/continents, it’s too easy to let those little life updates pass by. That’s where Snapchat and Insta come in to close the communication gap. Just like you did back home, share the funny/stupid/random stuff that happens in your day with a pic or video. It could be a cooking fail, an ugly selfie, or that weirdo wearing a ~quirky~ outfit on the train. If you can make your friend laugh with you from a thousand miles away, that’s a win.
Speaking of social media… embrace it! Social media was invented to make people feel involved in each other’s lives. Sure, some take it too far, but it’s an amazing way to stay up-to-date on your friend’s lives, so don’t feel guilty about liking every single one of their posts. Plus, it cuts out the small talk when you do speak. Instead of starting your call with “What’s new with you?” you can go straight to “Tell me all about the new job!”
FaceTime as much as you can. Nothing beats seeing your friend’s face (mmm, creepy). Even if you don’t have anything major to catch up on, you can still virtually chill out together – but 9 times out of 10, it turns into a huge gossip sesh.
Make a note of things you haaave to tell them. In the notes section of your phone, make a list of anecdotes and tips to tell them about the next time you chat. It can be anything, from the annoying speech your boss made, the amazing new shoes you bought, or the podcast you’re obsessed with. These details – however small – are what make a friendship fab, and they give your friend an insight into your daily life.
Brighten their day with a care package. Whether it’s a box of Tim Tams to someone living in New York (hint hint), or pizza shapes and pawpaw to someone who’s shivering through a London winter, it’ll put a smile on your friend’s face. The care package doesn’t have to be elaborate. The thought alone is enough!
Track flights. Planning to visit your bestie soon? If she’s a plane ride away, set up flight alerts so you can pounce on them when they go on sale. You can also get a frequent flyer card or join a mileage program and start racking up points. Soon, you’ll be able to cash them in for a discount on your trip.
Meet somewhere in the middle. At some points, you may not have the time or money to fly across the world to see her, but what about a mini trip? If you’re both down, see if you can find a place that’s reasonable and halfway between your homes.
Pick a book to read together, or a TV show to watch. Instead of relying on the past to fuel your friendship, find new, shared experiences. That way, you’ll always have something to chat about. Maybe you can start a long-distance book club, or maybe you can binge-watch the same Netflix show. When you’re both done, discuss in detail! If you’re in similar time zones, you can even put on a movie and live-message each other.
Try not to cancel phone/video calls. Time differences can be a real bitch. If you’ve scheduled a call with your BFF, don’t cancel it unless you absolutely have to. Flaky people are hard to maintain long-distance friendships with (plus, they’re annoying). When you live in different places, you might only both be free to talk a handful of times a month, and if one person cancels, then the other, you might end up going months without talking properly.
Answer the phone even if you can’t talk. You’re sweating it out at the gym, or you’re swamped at work. If your friend calls, pick up – even if it’s just to say, “I miss you but I can’t stay on the phone. Can I call you back tonight?” A 10-second call is better than a missed call.
Do little things to remind your friend that you’re thinking of them. You may not technically be there, but you can show your friend that you care by sending them $$ for a coffee or a cocktail, or shooting off a quick email.
Send cards in the mail. Since you’re not there to celebrate birthdays and Christmases, and so on, make cards your new thing. In a time when technology has taken over, it’s special to send a handwritten card. It requires effort, and that’s always appreciated. And if you pop your address on the back, you may get a few cards back!
Share the recipes you love. When you’re with your friends, one of the main activities you do together is eating. When you’re doing long distance, the next best thing is sharing recipes you liked, so they can whip them up, too. You can try eating the meals together, but this sounds way cuter than it actually it is.
Take out her family/friends when they’re in town. If your BFF’s sister, mum or new work wife is in town, offer to show them around. It’ll remind you of her (mmm, more creepiness), and solidify the friendship.
Do your own Throwback Thursdays. Hello, nostalgia! Reminisce by sharing photos from your Time Hop or old-school album, and soak up the storytelling sesh that follows. Because if you don’t have cringe-worthy pics of each other, are you really friends?
In a LDR? We’ve written all about long-distance lovin’ here.
Words by Katia Iervasi.