15 ways to be present 2,000 miles away (for cheap)

Let’s be honest, it’s rare that we, as travel fanatics, experience too much “fomo” while we’re on an adventure. The latest drama, upcoming events, and recent activities that once encompassed so much of our time at home loses it’s luster and our new journey allows little time to dwell on the past. The last chapter comes to a close before we know it.

But, of course, there are those occasional instances when we wish we could teleport back home snuggled into the arms of our loved ones. I’d be lying if I said a piece of my heart didn’t break every time pictures of birthdays, graduations, babies, weddings, anniversaries, holidays, and reunions blew up my Facebook newsfeed.

Being apart of an extremely tight-knit family and close group of friends, makes missing the big events even harder. Therefore, I’ve come up with some budget friendly ways to be present, thoughtful, and creative when you’re half way across the world.

  1. Pictures Worth a Thousand Tears... if y’all know my mom, you know she tends to be a bit emotional… Anything borderline sentimental and she lets the floodgates go. Therefore, I always try to let her know I’m thinking of her on her special days!

For her birthday, I posed at Germany’s highest peak with a sign that read “Happy Birthday Mom!” and for Mother’s Day I posed in Dubrovnik, Croatia! Sometimes, it’s nice to know someone is thinking about you and put the effort in regardless of the monetary value IMG_5973

2) FOOD. Online ordering is the greatest thing to happen since sliced bread. Grub is an awesome website that allows you to search a specific address and displays all the restaurants that will complete online deliveries.

For my best friends birthday, I surprised her with Insomnia Cookies whom delivered the cookies to her doorstep with a customized message. She wasn’t expecting anything from me while I was in Czech, let alone, delicious cookies served to her doorstep.
Here is a list of my favorite restaurants that allow you to order online: Insomnia, Pizza Hut, Pita Pit, Great American Cookies, Smoothie King, Jimmy Johns, Bento Hut, Quiznos, Gyro Bros

3) Send a postcard, polaroid, souvenir, knick knack. Find something meaningful, neat, personalized, or unique that they can put in their scrapbook, decorate their walls, or hang on their fridge.

This is my friend Molly’s wall. About a year ago, we started a tradition of giving each other postcards every time we traveled to a new city. It’s great to know that while you were 2000 miles apart that someone thought of you enough to get you something- even if it is a cheap piece of paper.

4) An authentic birthday wish. Spice things up this year and sing ‘happy birthday’ in a new language with all of your new local friends. Either facetime, record, or call them up! I guarantee they won’t forget the birthday in which 15 random Spaniards sang Feliz Cumpleaños.

5) Skype date/call. I missed the birth of one of my best friend’s baby, therefore, I had to meet sweet baby Palmer via Skype. It was nowhere near as intimate as holding her in my arms in person but it temporarily filled my “fomo” void.  

6) Send a recording. Time change makes it hard to be a part of things when they’re actually happening. Therefore, it’s beneficial to prepare a recording ahead of time. For my cousins graduation, it’s tradition that we all go around and reminisce on old times. I refused to miss out on an opportunity to embarrass my cousin so I made sure to send my mom a recording she could play aloud at the ceremony.

7) Venmo them money… Hey, maybe your friend is simple. Cash will more than satisfy them. Venmo them.

8) Plan a trip with your airbnb points. This is perfect for anniversaries. If your parents have a special 30th anniversary coming up, surprise them with a trip to one of their favorite places.

9) Compile letters from their loved ones. Before I left for Uganda, one of my best friends made me envelopes for every day that I would be gone. In each envelope, there were individual pictures and letters from my friends and family. It rocked.

10) Make a video montage. People love to reminisce on the good times. Throw together some old videos, add some music, and insert a cute message.

11) Create a collage of all the places you’ve been with a message


This is my friend Amariz’s collage she made for her parents! It says: thank you mom and dad for showing me the world

12) Send them a care package from a local company. This might be hard depending on where you are living but do some research to see what kind of local goodies you can send home!

13) Celebrate ahead of timeOr Photoshop yourself in. Half birthdays instead of actual birthdays. Early graduation celebration. Christmas in July. Etc…And if you can’t celebrate, pretend like you did with a little bit of photo shop action.

I missed out on my first alumni weekend.. Therefore, I cropped myself in the corner to pretend like I was there…Talk about “fomo”

14) Bouquet of flowers. Personally, I have never sent flowers because shipping prices can get pretty pricey but if you do your research you can find some decent discounts.

15) Gift Cards. You know your friends better than anyone. Therefore, buy them something you know they’ll like. Whether their nerds and will go head over heels for a booksamillion gift card or they would rather have an iTunes giftcard to update their killer music playlist… the options are infinite. Heck, get your mom a spa giftcard.



5 thoughts on “15 ways to be present 2,000 miles away (for cheap)

  1. I’ve lived overseas for 2 years–and man, you do miss a lot of special occasions in this lifestyle! It’s definitely important to find creative ways to show your friends and family how much you miss them, and to celebrate the big moments in their life!

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