Keep in Touch!

Phone Home

One amazing thing about CouchSurfing is what engaged, connected experiences you can have with people in just a handful of days. I’m not sure if it’s about the spirit of people that the CS community attracts, or the quality of sleeping under the same roof with someone, or other things, but you often make fast and powerful connections.

And then poof!

As quickly as they arrived, they’re off to another city, country, or continent. You don’t necessarily have to keep in touch with everyone. And everyone’s style will be different. I’m always mindful of Stefanie’s comment that she almost never calls home, even when she’s traveling for months. To my own mom this would be a sadness or perhaps an insult. To Stefanie’s mom it’s a sign that everything’s going well. Of her older sister who calls home “too much” while traveling, they always worry that she’s not handling things well. Why else would she keep calling home!?

Much as there is to say about personal styles and preferences and percentage of your time spent in the physical here-and-now vs communication with those not physically present, there’s also the how of communicating.

3 Snapchat frames showing Diana Solis blowing a large, pink, bubble-gum bubble

So many apps, so little time!

My students will send an email or Facebook message if they need to. But I think for so many of them in 2015 Snapchat is where they most deeply, or at least most preferentially, interact.

I’m a blog lover. I love posting mine, reading yours, and leaving and receiving comments back and forth. Personally I love that these blog-comment-conversations happen in public where others can participate. If a lot of that blog conversation has moved off the blog itself and onto platforms like Twitter or Facebook, so be it. Still, wherever it takes place, these conversations are both enriched and a little bit genericized by taking place in public.

When travelers are here we’ve found WhatsApp and WhatsApp Groups to be fantastic modes of communication. I still talk fairly regularly with Csenge via WhatsApp even though she, Aki, Denes & Esti have been back home for a whole semester now.

WhatsApp1 is a great way to keep in touch. It’s so easy to send a few words or an image. Or for Eleo to sing to you! It might actually be the easiest and best way to keep in touch. Yet I wonder if it isn’t a sort of semi-constant, but also in a way, low-grade, communication? What about the perhaps less frequent, but more substantive eLetter.

a montage of 10 Snapchat images


A dwindling but notable number of my family and friends still mail out paper Holiday Cards around this December time of year. Some do the photo card which features them in front of a tree or from some vacation this year. It’s a nice way to see how much taller the kids are and who the new family pet is. The photos are great and sticking a bunch of photos in envelopes is pretty fast and easy.

Others do the Holiday Letter. This is typically a printed sheet with a diary of some of the past year’s events and illustrated with some photos. Often these printed letters include space for a short hand-written message just to you. It’s a pretty nice, rich, and convenient way to share a lot with someone across the country or across the globe.

Perhaps that Holiday Letter isn’t a bad format for keeping in touch with people who have touched you during their travels.


  1. Web Page (“regular blog” or special Holiday Greeting Post)
  2. “Hand Written” note. (and by hand written I mean email!)

Mix ingredients & send! A great combo! A bit of public sharing personalized with an eMail “eLetter” to one person.

It seems like we’ve been dreaming up alternatives to email for almost as long as we’ve had email. Email may not be as sexy as Snapchat or WhatsApp or as public as a Blog Post, but it’s a pretty simple, ubiquitous, powerful, and personal way to communicate with someone. Other than a voice or video call – eww! who’d ever do that!? – I can’t think of anything better.

a montage of 6 WhatsApp images showing travelers in different places

Your Holiday eCard is Coming!

So that’s it then! A special Holiday Web Page personally delivered via email. Expect yours soon. Or at least by sometime in January! Or maybe February.

Beyond just the holidays though, I’m wondering if eMail might sometimes be a richer way to keep in touch than more contemporary platforms like WhatsApp or Snapchat.

What do you think!?

  1. I actually prefer Telegram over WhatsApp, but this is another of those format wars that’s essentially over. Everybody is on WhatsApp! How much I like Telegram or Line or Viber or Kik or, or, or, really doesn’t matter. For mobile chat, it’s a WhatsApp world. Telegram’s better. But everybody is on WhatsApp. And it works well enough. 

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