IMG_0595Traveling is hard!

Especially when you have family at home that aren’t with you.

Finding time to connect, spend time together and share a moment with each other can be tricky when one or multiple of your family members travel.  Even phone calls can be hard to manage with time zone differences and expensive long distance charges.

My family is like this, and even now as an adult it can still be hard. Take into consideration siblings and significant others as well and it can be really difficult for a family to spend time together. I can’t remember the last time my entire family was together at once place at the same time. But we’re used to it, even though we don’t all congregate together at once, we all see each other. It seems like this is normal for a lot of people, just kind of how things work now. With connectivity, everyone’s used to interacting and catching up online.

But why not use all this technology to our advantage? To enable us to be together? My mom had a great and fun idea that has now become a family tradition to help us all connect and stay united.

My dad travels the most in the family with me in second place. My sister and mom travel a decent amount, but my dad mostly travels to Europe, so he’s the hardest to plan around. This past fall he had multiple trips to France for weeks at a time. And in addition to travel schedules, my folks, sister and I live in cities hundreds of miles from each other. But my mom had a great idea to get us all together despite our different travel schedules and cities of residence.

Virtual Family Time

The birthdays in my family are all pretty close together, within a few months. So usually my family celebrates together sometime during that span, until recently when we all started having incredibly busy schedules. So this year, in the middle of birthday season she sent everyone a package and told us each of us individually to wait to open it.

Then she scheduled a call with each of us independently, for the same time slot. When we tried to call her, she started a group facetime (we all use iPhones, but you could use Skype on any phone/computer) so we could all have a “family conference call.” It was very cute! On the call we all got to open the packages she had sent us.

Set Up a Surprise Toast

Since our family isn’t big on giving gifts to each other, she sent each one of us a drink that we each like. I got champagne, my sister got wine, my dad got beer, and I think she got herself wine too. She used GiftBasketsOverseas.com to ship to my dad in France. They were able to deliver it directly to his hotel rather than having to deal with customs and whatnot, since she was shipping alcohol. If you don’t use a service like this, be sure to check your state shipping laws first!

Then, virtually, we all had a toast together. It was great to share a drink with the whole family via the internet!

Family Game Time

She also had snuck some dice into my dad’s luggage without him knowing. Our family plays a dice game together called “Mexicali”, since my sister and I both have dice at home (because of this family game) we were all able to play dice together as well! Dice games are great to play over video chat because you don’t have to worry about maintaining the same deck like with a card game. I know some friends that play monopoly the same way, because they each have a board at home. But dice are much easier to sneak into luggage, or just order on Amazon and have shipped!

Our family was all “together” via Wi-Fi connection, enjoying a drink and playing games together, virtually. It has now actually become kind of a family tradition and we do this frequently now to stay in touch with each other, it’s actually really fun!

Even if you are half way around the world from each other, in this day and age you can still be with your loved ones no matter where you are!

Kenny is an independent blogger and freelance writer. He lives in sunny California with his girlfriend and has been working independently online most recently since 2009.