How To Connect With Family When You Can’t Go Home For The Holidays

For many of us, the holidays are about visiting family, sitting down together over a meal, and spending quality time together. But sometimes, that's just not possible. Perhaps you live on the other side of the world or simply don't have the money for a trip this year. For whatever reason, even if you can't physically be with your family this year doesn't mean you can't still connect with them.

Technology has changed the way we communicate with each other in drastic ways. If you can't make it to see your family in person this year, there is no shortage of affordable options to help you connect.

So in the spirit of the holidays, here are some of the apps you can use to better keep in touch on a budget:

Already with tens of millions of users, this company is definitely doing something right. As the saying goes: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" That's why TextMe has rolled out its messaging app across multiple platforms. How? It uses the cloud to store all your phone's data so you can access your phone through different platforms and keep in touch via video chat, call, SMS, etc.

Users even have the option to create multiple phone numbers and manage them all from a single account. This way, you can have a local number for your friends in France, while visiting family in Canada, or you can set up a different number with a German area code, specifically for the friends you meet at the bar during your trip to Berlin.

Another cool feature is TextMe Web, which allows users to text or call any number in the world - even landlines - for free. With the web version, you can also access your entire phone through your browser. And unlike competitors like WhatsApp Web, your phone doesn't need to be nearby for access, which eliminates the need for a data connection. Your phone can be out of battery, lost, or in another room and you can still keep in touch with your contacts.

One of the biggest problems with most free communication apps is that they don't allow you to easily talk to more than one person at a time. With Tango, however, you can connect multiple people in one chat. Even if your friends and family are spread out all over the world, everyone can easily catch up.

Besides video calls, users can also voice call, text, share pictures, videos, play games, and send music to one another. With all of these features it's the self-described "all-in-one" social networking app.

GroupMe is the perfect app for those who have a tight-knit family. It's designed for group chats rather than one-on-one messaging, though it does have that option too.

Similar to a small chat room, you can send family and friends photos, videos, and a unique set of emojis to keep in touch across iOS, Android and Windows phones. Even if your contact doesn't have a GroupMe account, they can still join the conversation through SMS in the GroupMe chat.

So you have a way to already keep in touch, but how hard is it to actually stay in touch? Although we're living in times that are more connected than ever, we all too often fail to keep in touch with friends and family. Whether it's because we lead busy lives, or live far apart, Bond is an app that does one thing really well -- it reminds you to keep in touch with those that really matter.

With the app, you can set a reminder during the day when you're typically free, and get prompted to use that time to connect. Users can choose the communication method, the contact, and how often they would like to reach that person (every day/week/month/year).

Being separated from your loved ones during the holidays can be a real downer. But with these apps, you'll never really be alone this time of year.

What about you? What apps do you use to keep in touch with loved ones over the holidays? Let me know in the comments.

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