The holidays sure are coming up quickly! As the celebrations approach, it's important to consider how you'll socialize with friends and family. For RVers, a frequent consideration is distance, with the holidays occasionally spent apart from friends and family. But with new technologies, it's easier than ever to stay connected virtually.
With so many apps and services designed to keep you in touch, the prospect of virtual socialization can be overwhelming. But we're to help. We're highlighting a few ways to stay in touch through video calls, with some creative ideas for activities beyond talking. Next time you need to plan a virtual social event, keep these options in mind!
Many apps and services now exist to stay connected virtually. Recently, Zoom has exploded in popularity, but it remains more popular for business use than casual social gatherings. That said, it's quite good for large groups.
For casual video calls, there are three primary apps used. For Apple users, FaceTime is the go-to. While easy to use, it doesn't play nicely with others, so you can't contact non-Apple users with FaceTime.
Google Duo has emerged as an alternative to FaceTime. It's a simple way to make video calls and leave messages. The uses are straightforward, and Duo has a major advantage over FaceTime in that it works across platforms. You can find the Duo app on Android and iOS, and Duo also works on Google Chrome from any computer. Many people can join the call, so this is the best app for inclusivity.
Instagram, once a photo-centric social network, has expanded to include many uses. One of those is video calling. Instagram users can call one another quite easily, adding up to four people in a call. The new feature of Rooms also creates a way to add many users in a drop-in setting, where people can come and go as they please.
Finally, there's Marco Polo. This app differs from the others in that it's not a traditional video calling app. Marco Polo instead bills itself it as a video walkie-talkie. Users can record short videos and send them to others. This is a great way to say, keep up with the development of a baby or toddler, without having to schedule video calls at a convenient time. Marco Polo is also a great way to stay connected virtually across major time zone differences.
All these new services are great, but what can you use them for? Are you confined to just structured video calls? Absolutely not!
Around the holidays, a great idea is to bake cookies together virtually. Set your phone, tablet, or laptop up in the kitchen, call a relative and you can both get to work baking. This is a good way to carry on a conversation while also having an activity to keep you occupied during the inevitable lulls. And at the end, you can show off your fresh baked goods!
Another option is to share a meal together. If you'd like, you can each cook a meal while on a call, as you would with baking. Or as a fun alternative, buy the other person's dinner. They can order for themselves and you can send them money through Venmo, Apple Pay, or Google Pay. For even more fun, surprise them by ordering pizza delivery or Uber Eats straight to their door.
Looking for something other than food? A great way to stay connected virtually is to host a movie night. If watching with one or two people, you can simply log onto your individual accounts and begin watching at the same moment. If you want a drop-in movie night, use a function like Instagram Rooms and set up a camera facing the screen. Then, a whole group of people can join as they please, commenting throughout the film.
While distance during the holidays is difficult, it's increasingly common, especially for RVers. Fortunately, there are many ways to stay connected virtually. All you need is to be creative and flexible. Don't forget to pass that spirit onto others by sharing this post!