A world map with dice, monopoly and Jenna pieces scattered on it to illustrate that games are great way to connect with friends and family when you are far apart.
Travel & Lifestyle,  Travel tips

Creative Ways to Connect with Friends & Family When you’re Far Apart

Whether it’s because you’re stuck indoors due to a global pandemic, or you’re in another country and missing home, being isolated forces us to be more creative and to connect to others more than ever. The Internet is full of creative ways to connect with friends and family around the world, and we’re not talking your basic messaging or video call. This post is for people looking for some fun and alternative ways to communicate with loved ones when you’re miles away from each other.

Netflix Party

A hand holding a remote pointed at a tv screen displaying the Netflix logo.

Netflix Party is a an extension for Chrome that allows you to group watch Netflix shows and chat whilst they’re going on. I am a nightmare for anyone in this situation, as I need to use the loo every ten minutes and rewind bits when ever I like. Providing you have better Netflix etiquette than I do, this is a fun group activity.

Online Multiplayer Games 

A wooden table covered in children’s toys and scrabble pieces spelling out the word ‘friends’.

Being more limited in what you can do and where you can do it makes you get more creative. Here are some options for multiplayer games you can play on your phone or pc with friends in different places. Yes, I’m aware that remote gaming with headsets is also a thing, but this isn’t for avid gamers with all the tech so much as those who enjoy mobile and board games, looking for creative ways to connect with friends and family.

Psych

Psych is Ellen’s latest mobile game and is an incredibly entertaining way to diss your friends and siblings in secret. It requires at least three players and works by giving you a code when you start a game that your friends can use to join when they’re ready. Unsurprisingly, it has received a lot of traffic in the past few weeks, causing some glitches, but besides that it’s worth a download and will honestly have you in stitches, especially when you get three answers all the same! In my opinion, it gives my sisters a chance to gang up on me, but I give as good as I get!

Facebook Games

A mobile phone displaying the Facebook login page alongside scrabble pieces spelling out ‘social media’.

Using Facebook Messenger, you can start multiplayer games like Draw Something or Scrabble within a group chat. This recently helped my sister get through a 30 hour coach journey to Italy, so why not make use of it when you’re spending more time indoors?

Bunch

Bunch is an app that lets you play multiplayer mobile games whilst video calling your friends. It has a handful of games, including Psych, which would be much more fun being able to see your friends’ reactions!

Mariokart Tour

I was really looking forward to playing this one as I miss playing Mariokart with the family. I think once you get the hang of it it could be quite fun, plus you can play with up to 7 friends. It’s not the most straightforward though, I will warn you. First you need to download the app and create a Nintendo ID online. Before you can start playing with friends you need to do a tutorial, do another in-game download and then complete a cup to unlock the privilege! The steering is a bit weird to get used to, but it’s the same game essentially.

And Even More…

Live Watching

A person in a black robe and gryffindor style tie with a wand and cauldron, performing a spell.

This one involves a bit of coordination, but basically you all watch the same thing at the same time and chat about it via instant messaging (self explanatory really). This is similar to having a Netflix party but you can do it with a TV movie, dvd or any other screening service, plus it doesn’t require a particular browser. This is the time to get your best jokes out. A personal favourite and good option for marathon viewing is obviously Harry Potter, all of which are now on Now TV. Get creative with your “that’s you” jokes. If you’re looking for some travel themed viewing inspiration, check out my last post about bringing travel to you.

Start an Online Book Club

A pile of books covered in fairy lights and topped with a candle. An online book club is a great idea for connecting with friends and family when you’re far apart.

If you love reading, this one’s for you! Keep in touch with loved ones and friends abroad or cross country by setting up a weekly (or how ever often you like) reading challenge and getting together over Skype or Zoom to discuss your thoughts! As well as starting an online book club with people you know already, there are plenty of existing ones you can join to meet new friends. Book riot have some great tips on starting a book club, as well as lots of reading suggestions and literary interviews to keep you going.

Virtual Bake-off

Another creative way to connect with friends and family virtually could be taking on a baking challenge together over a video call. Who doesn’t love a bit of friendly competition? I haven’t baked in years and now seems as good a time as any to take it up again, particularly as my snack stash is rapidly disappearing! Some bakeries and chefs are also offering free live cooking classes.

Digital Gym Buddies

A woman sitting on an excercises mat holding a smoothie with dumbbells.

I’m not going to lie, I’m much more interested in the other connectivity options which involve minimal movement, but keeping active is a good idea when you’re stuck indoors. Or when travelling solo, to maintain your mental health, as it’s easy to get low whilst travelling for extensive periods of time on your own. This could also be a good way to hold yourself accountable for excercising goals when away from friends. Why not get a virtual gym buddy and do workouts together over Skype or Zoom? You could even make it more zen and do some yoga stretches followed by a meditation.

In addition to just working out one-on-one, you and a friend, you could both take the same online excercises class. This could also be a great way to support small businesses and personal trainers during this tough period. I have seen a lot of people offering online yoga and dance classes on Facebook. Some are free but others ask for a discounted class price or a donation to support vulnerable people.

Attending Virtual Events

People with their arms up at a music concert. Attending virtual events is a great way to connect with your loved ones when you’re far apart.

In the light of the current crisis, more and more people are taking part in online pub quizzes or events like Bongo’s Bingo. Some artists are even putting out online shows or going live on social media. Why not get a group of friends and all take part virtually together?

Start Your Own Online Quiz

If you can’t find a quiz to join, start your own! I’ve seen some friends on social media making their own family pub quiz, which is really fun idea I might try! Create a few PowerPoint slides or just prepare and read out your questions over a conference call app, with a your drink of choice of course.

Virtual Happy Hour

A group of girls clinking cocktail glasses together.

Bring the pub to you with this Japanese inspired virtual drinking fest. You don’t even need to drink alcohol, and depending on the different time zones of the people you’re chatting with, you might want to stick to coffee, but it’s just a fun way to come together.

Thank you for Reading!

Scrabble pieces on a pink background reading ‘Be Kind, Stay Home, Save Lives’

As times get weirder and more unknown, we have to get more creative right? I hope you enjoyed this post about creative ways to connect with friends and family from a distance. It’s a bit of fun for those stuck at home at the moment, that will also come in handy when the world starts turning again and we’re half way around the world, missing those close to us! I h, and I love it, but it’s always comforting to have small ways to check in with people for those moments when you’re feeling lost or alone. If you liked this, you should check out my guide on ways to fuel your wanderlust when you can’t travel. Stay safe and support each other!

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