22 Expat Tips For Talking To Family & Friends Online

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Blooming heck – what a month it’s been! If there’s one thing we’ve all learnt about this crazy time; it’s brought us much closer to our family and friends.

As expats, we’ve generally got it sorted about talking to family & friends online. We know that we can’t see them whenever we like, because when we decided to move to a country on the other side of the world, I don’t think any of us really knew how hard it would actually be.

I know I always have to work on UK time whenever organising catch ups. It’s too much of a head spin for everyone else to work out what time (for example) 6pm in Sydney is back home. And I’m sure you probably have to do this too.

But when it comes to connecting with family & friends, I feel like a whole new world has opened up. Although it might be obvious now, the prospect of talking to my friends on group chat has been brilliant.

We’re all connecting much more back home

So when I put it to my readers, I asked them how they’ve been over the last month and what new ways are they connecting with their friends & family online.

It turns out 36% of you are talking to your loved ones a couple of times a week at the moment whilst nearly 35% talk at least once a day.

Although I’m not too sure if your chat time has increased due to the pandemic, I know mine has. I’ve been talking to my family & friends much more in the last few weeks than I usually would. I’ve even had some brilliant group video chats with my friends which we’ve not done before.

Here are the results of our recent survey to offer you some reassurance or tips on how to connect with loved ones overseas who you can’t see right now.

The Best Tools To Use To Keep In Touch With Friends & Family

I remember when I did my first around-the-world year long trip on my own in 2006 and the only social media site that was available back then was MySpace. There was only the option to share 10 pictures and that was it. I rarely used email back then and rang home maybe a handful of times during that year. It makes me realise how much easier it is now to keep in touch.

When we asked our readers, these are the main apps they use to keep in touch with their friends & family back home.

1. WhatsApp (72%)

To be honest, I used to use Facebook messanger a lot and have only converted over to WhatsApp in the last year or so. I know I’m probably one of the last people in the world to do so, but it’s excellent!

I love the group messanging feature and it’s really easy to do video chats as well.

2. Facetime (13%)

Whilst 13% of our audience prefer to use Facetime, I have to say it’s not an app I have used that often. Again, I’m probably one of the remaining people in the world to have not used this feature yet!

3. Facebook (6%)

Facebook is one of those apps that the oldies seem to love. Although the video messanger is much easier to connect than on Skype for example, it’s an option that 6% of our audience still use to contact their loved ones.

I do love the time-hop feature on Facebook and it’s good to scroll through and see what everyone is up to back home but I’ve since converted to using Whatsapp now.

4. Zoom (3%)

To be honest, if you asked me a month ago what Zoom is, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. It turns out Zoom is 3% of our audience’s go to app for chatting to their families & friends.

I have to admit, I used Zoom recently to catch up with my friends in London and it was WAY better than HouseParty. I love the group video chat and generally how reliable this app actually is. Whilst it might be used for the workplace, check out this app to connect with your loved ones back home.

5. Houseparty (2%)

I would have thought to see more of our readers using Houseparty to chat with their loved ones, but again this is an app I had no idea existed until a month ago.

When I first chatted to my friends when the pandemic started, we all agreed to use Houseparty. But to be honest, I couldn’t hear anything anyone said and it was really annoying to use. After that time, we then resorted to Zoom.

6. Skype (2%)

So 2% of our audience use Skype to contact friends & family back home. I used to love Skype, it was always my go to app for making any international calls or video chats back home. But then we’d always either lose connection or we wouldn’t be able to hear each other. So I’d spend most of the video chat calling my family back over and over again until we could actually hear each other.

For me now, I’m sold on Whatsapp for text messaging & one on one calls and Zoom for group calls.

New fun activities to spend quality time with loved ones over the internet

We’ve all seen the memes, seen how many people are getting creative with their home workouts and also how people have become pretty inventive at staying in touch.

When we asked our readers, these are the new things they are doing with their loved ones on the other side of the world at the moment.

7. Group Chat

Group chats are the single most popular way expats are keeping in touch with loved ones right now. In fact, nearly 73% of you are using this form of communication to interact with more than one family member or friends at once.

One of our readers mentioned how they did a group chat with family in Sydney, Perth, Birdport & Bristol at once! Another mentioned how it’s brought many families closer together, like how you can now feel like you’re all be in the same room. This has obviously made it much easier to overcome the feeling of loneliness between two countries – especially if you’re self-isolating alone.

8. Pub Quiz At Home

We all love a decent pub quiz (especially if you’re British!) and it turns out a lot of you are organising one with people in different parts of the world. If you’re looking for trivia games to play, Houseparty app actually have loads to choose from. From entertainment, to Netflix, Sports and General Knowledge, there’s actually quite a few online quizzes in this app.

Not on Houseparty? If it’s not your thing, try Bunch app which has loads of games including a decent trivia game.

9. Watch Netflix Together

By now the whole world has probably seen Tiger King, but next time you go to watch something on Netflix, watch it along with your loved ones back home with Netflix Party. You can download the app for free on Google Chrome and sync up with everyone else to watch it altogether.

10. Foodie Challenges

One of our readers told us how they are currently holding a contest to see who is coming up with the best creations in the kitchen. From sharing dinner photos to see who’s baking the best bread, this is a fun way to feel like family are there with you throughout the day before you speak to them when the time zones match up.

11. Hosting a Breakfast / Dinner Party

We’ve got to become pretty creative when we’re all in different time zones! Rather than missing out on the fun, still hold a breakfast or dinner party and just have whatever food it is for your time of the day.

Maybe you’ll have to sack off a drinks party unless drinking at 7am is your kinda thing but you shouldn’t let the time difference put off socialising with your friends & family on the internet.

12. Host A Fancy Dress Theme For Your Next Group Chat

If you want to liven things up a bit, host a fancy dress theme for your next group chat. I’ve seen many Tiger King parties so far but the lists are endless with what you could come up with. It not only lifts your spirits but also makes the chat much more fun. Plus, it will give you something to concentrate on if you’re getting a bit bored at home.

13. Do A Home Workout Together

Nothing says self-isolation than doing an at home workout! I’m guilty of this as I’ve been doing at home workouts since I started working from home over a year ago.

If you’ve not invested in them yet, do so because that 30 minutes a day of working out does wonders. I’m currently doing the free at home workouts by Chloe Ting which are brilliant. I also pay $20 a month for the Kayla Itsines app as well and alternate between the two.

Timings could work out well for a workout – your friends & family do it early in the morning which would workout late afternoon in Australia!

14. 30 Day Photo Challenge

Here’s an example of a 30 day photo challenge.

Another idea one of our readers told us they are currently playing with their family is a 30 day photo challenge. Send each other a photo a day with the theme it’s based on to your Whatsapp or on your social media channels.

15. Kids Play Hide & Seek

A great one to play with the kids in your family is a game of hide & seek which. This is what one of our readers is currently doing between England and Sydney.

16. Play Poker With Your Friends!

Pokerface is becoming increasingly popular right now and is a huge hit for friends & family overseas. Just make sure you set a good time and play away.

There are loads of various games you could play with your friends & family back home and we hope this post has given you some inspiration for the coming months to connect and have fun together. Just remember, to know everyone is at home right now gives you a fantastic opportunity to spend some quality time together even if you’re not in the same household.

Tips on chatting to friends & family online

Our readers also gave us some fab tips on keeping in touch with friends & family online because you don’t want this time being all about having a packed schedule of back to back calls.

17. Eat dinner before you chat

I like this piece of advice as with the timings, you could end up chatting to loved ones back home around dinner time in Australia. This means you don’t want to be spending the time thinking about food when you should be catching up with each other.

Eat before you catch up unless you’re having a meal together and you’ll spend more quality time with them.

18. Keep a clock on your phone for your home country

If you’re an expat, I’m sure you already do this but if not, make sure you set a clock on your phone for your home country so you’ll always know what time it is back home. It makes it much easier for arranging calls.

19. Arrange video calls in advance

Try and arrange your video calls in advance and always stick to them. I always put mine straight into my iPhone calendar so I don’t forget. It can be a bit confusing with working out the time difference so it’s best to put it into your phone as soon as you arrange it.

20. Don’t overbook too many chats

Some of our readers mentioned how they’re a bit overloaded with the video chats with back home right now. Don’t overbook and don’t feel guilty if you don’t feel like talking. You don’t need to yes to everyone, all the time.

21. Send videos throughout the day

One thing my friends and I do is send each other funny or short videos throughout the day so that it’s better to see what we’ll all up to rather than having to commit to daily video chats. This is a nice way to show your loved ones that even though you might not be talking to them all the time, you are certainly thinking of them.

22. Send a card or a gift in the post

Another great thing to do is sending a card, postcard or gift in the post to your loved ones. The power of getting some post completely outweighs a text message or call. There’s something that just feels so special about it, like there’s more effort. Don’t forget how nice it is to send family something. You could check out out shop page for some ideas on what to send them!


Hope this post has given you some inspiration on new ways for talking to friends and family online, especially during these times.

More to come on this topic soon!

Expat Tips For Talking To Family & Friends Online