Office 365 Skype helps you stay connected to family while traveling

 In Apps

Traveling far away from your family is hard. Living far away from them is harder. Both necessitate a little creativity when it comes to staying connected. If you have kids, it becomes all the more important for your kids to develop a relationship with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins if they don’t get to see them very often. This is when Skype becomes your best friend. This is when you don’t let distance separate you and you embrace the blessings of technology.

For years my husband and I have lived far away from family. First at school in Georgia and then grad school in Chicago before we moved to the West Coast over eight years ago. Until we moved back to the east coast last winter, our main means of communication with our families on the east coast was the telephone and Skype video chats. My parents got to see my son walk for the first time on Skype. We opened Christmas presents over Skype and my boys could recap their days with their cousins and grandparents over Skype. My boys have grown up knowing their family via Skype video chats. Instead of visiting strangers once or twice a year, my boys were able to jump right into the family insanity and take their rightful place among their cousins because they already knew them.

Now that we have moved my 5-year-old son uses Skype to chat with his friends back in Seattle. He shows off new toys and just babbles away. Knowing he could still “see” his buddies made his transition just a tad easier. We may not have to Skype with family as much anymore because we see them more often, but there will always be a need for Skype in our lives, especially when we travel.

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Taking Skype on the road

Last month I took the boys on a 5-week adventure around Europe. Their dad was only able to spend the first week with us in Paris. He had to go back to work and wrap up a big project. This meant that the boys and I would be away from their dad for four weeks as we traveled through Scotland, Italy and Switzerland. Four very long, solo mom with no back up from dad weeks. I can’t say I was dreading the trip—I love to travel and explore with my boys. What I was dreading was single parenthood for a prolonged period of time. I’d have no partner to back me up on the hard decisions (no, you may not sword fight in the museum and knock over priceless sculptures). I’d get no real break from my boys, something I do cherish when we are at home. I like handing them off to their dad and checking out for a bit. It renews my soul and gives my ears a break from the constant “mooooooom!” whining.

Once again I had to get creative. Before we left my husband and I set up a plan. We wouldn’t be able to video chat over Skype every day due to activities and being in transit from place to place, but we would try to chat before bedtime, which would be just after lunch for my husband. I would use my 60-Skype minutes that come with my Office 365 membership to call him to hop on video chat or for emergency vent sessions when the kids were driving me crazy. I would also text him through the Skype app to touch base on when we could call. For the most part this plan worked perfectly. The boys got to see their dad a few times a week. They showed off new toys, talked about the number of times they got to have gelato each day in Italy and swung their shiny new (plastic) swords their grandpa got them in Scotland.

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One thing that made staying connected even easier is that my husband had a Windows phone with Skype already loaded up (we have the entire Office 365 suite on there in fact). He was able to plug his headphones in and video chat with us directly from his phone. No need to find a conference room at the office to set up a tablet or laptop to chat. He simply picked up when I called and walked into the hallway. As long as he had a decent Wi-Fi signal at the office he could chat.

My boys and I missed their dad every single day, but knowing we could chat over Skype, show off our new toys and share our travels with him, including the epic view from our apartment in Cortona, made it easier to be far away from him. My husband might not have been able to give me the night off, but he definitely put his dad voice on when he heard my youngest whining or my oldest asking for something that he knew I had already told him he couldn’t have. What the boys didn’t know is that when daddy talked to them, it wasn’t the only time he talked to mommy. Oh the beauty of Skype calls, video chat and text. Mommy and daddy can be a team no matter where they are in the world.

Now that we are home we continue to use Skype to video chat with friends back in Switzerland, grandparents a few hours north that we don’t see as often and friends back in Seattle. Skype has always been a part of our life and an easy tool to stay connected, no matter the distance that keeps us apart from the ones we love. We will continue to travel and use Skype. Why wouldn’t we? It’s free and it’s been working for us for over 10 years.

How has Skype helped you reconnect with family and friends?

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 I am an Office 365 Champ, which means I am an ambassador for Microsoft Office 365 and compensated for this content. However, I never promote products I do not believe in, and my opinions are always my own. When they aren’t you will be the first to know.

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Comments
  • Mom
    Reply

    To underscore Keryn’s point …Skype really made a difference for us as the grandparents to Keryn’s children when they lived so far away. We even developed our own grandparent TV program for them with puppets, harmonica’s (which we could hardly play, but they didn’t know it!) and read-aloud story time. Nothing fancy, just a bunch of silliness that we invented along the way and they were thrilled! When we would see them at the aiport, they already knew who we were and quickly reached out for hugs. Love it!

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