My partner and I have been together for 14 years, but for 18 months of this we did a long distance relationship while I was working in the UK and my other half was working in New Zealand.
Most days we called each other twice a day – UK evening/NZ breakfast and UK breakfast/NZ evening. Having good routines and making use of technology for staying in touch was essential. Because I was quite young when we got together, our relationship was strengthened by me doing something independently.
If you want to keep your ties with home strong while you’re on the road, these five tips will help you:
1. Find a time that’s convenient to call.
For example, my partner’s brother calls his best mate in the US every Friday evening California time, when his mate is returning home from work. It’s convenient for his mate to talk while he’s invariably stuck in LA traffic.
If you’re making large time zone changes, ideally ask your loved one to pick one morning time and one evening time their time (e.g., Friday nights or Saturday mornings) so that you have at least one time that will be during waking hours in the time zone you’re in.
2. Spend 50% of the time talking about what’s going on in the other person’s life.
Even if it seems like you’re the one having the exciting adventures, your loved one will likely want to tell you about the basic stuff that’s happening in their life.
3. Short calls, often.
Get a local SIM card and an affordable international calling service. Having a local SIM card means you can make use of time waiting in line to call home. Call for basic things, like to find out how your Mom’s dinner party went.
4. Share moments as they happen.
Another advantage of calling home on the go is that you can share moments if your family as they happen.
The first time I went to the US (my first time outside the Southern Hemisphere), I remember calling my Mom at work from under the roller coaster at California Adventure (Disneyland). My Mom didn’t pick up but I left a message on her voicemail of people on the coaster screaming in the background. She had taken me to Disneyland as a baby, so this was a special moment.
5. Call your lifelong friends.
Facebook isn’t a substitute for phone calls. If you have lifelong friends who you want to keep in touch with, get over the embarrassment of having not called in awhile and pick up that phone.