Summer is coming up and for a lot of us, that means having to leave our friends to go home. Personally, I struggle with the whole “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” thing so it’s always a struggle for me to keep in contact. And when I do want to stay in contact, text messaging doesn’t always cut it. So whether it’s your best friend, a group of friends, your S/O, a family member, or someone you met in Holland, here’s a few ways to creatively stay in contact.

1. Journaling

This can work really well between two people or a group of people. Buy a nice journal and set up a mailing schedule. Then, whoever has the journal will keep it for a week and fill in a few pages. They can say whatever they want, whether it be reminiscing, a story about a trip to the grocery store, or just stream-of-conscience. But at the end of the week, they mail the journal to the next person on the list. Then, the new person does the same thing. And so the journal travels around, people make new entries and read the old ones. It’s a good way for everyone to stay in touch with everyone else without having to make a series of phone calls or really long, extensive posts on Facebook.

2. Write Letters

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned letter. Everyone loves to get mail, especially when it’s from a loved one. You can even decorate the letter to make it more personal for the other person, and more fun for yourself.

3. Traveling Pants

So this is unabashedly stolen from "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" but here we go. Find an object, maybe a pair of pants, more realistically, a bracelet, and send it around to everyone. Then, everyone wears the pants, or bracelet, or hat, or what-have-you and writes a letter before sending it onto the next person. Simple enough, and once again, a great way to make sure everyone stays in contact.

4. Scavenger Hunt

Make a list and have people send a picture every time they find something on that list. It doesn’t have to be a race, and there doesn’t have to be a prize, although there can be. But you’ll get to see each other’s beautiful faces, and sometimes a good story will come out of the picture.

5. Learn a Skill

This one is a bit unconventional. But decide on an unusual skill like beat-boxing, playing the ukulele, or drawing caricatures and try to master it over the summer. Then, send periodic updates to your friend and make sure they send you updates on their own skill. The update can be a picture, a video, or even just a text. But it’ll be fun to watch each other progress or absolutely fail, and you’ll have a reason to contact each other regularly. Plus, you might find you have an undiscovered talent.

6. Book Club

Pretty self-explanatory. Read the same book, and discuss it as you go along via call or FaceTime. Make it work according to your schedules, whether that’s a chapter a day, a chapter a week, or just reading it and then reconvening when you both finish it. But not only will you have a reason to contact each other, you’ll have something to talk about.

7. Communal Blog

This one is kind of like the journaling idea but a bit less structured and lower maintenance. Create a blog and give everyone the password. Then, people update it whenever they want. Everyone else can read and comment at their leisure, and add their own posts. Once again, everyone can know what else is going on but you don’t have to send a journal through the mail, if that’s not your thing. Nor are you obligated to post regularly. Although, then you run the risk of having no one post, which is why the journal is a bit nicer because you’re semi-obligated to write a least one entry within the week.

8. Assign an Item

Also kind of unconventional but it helps eliminate the out-of-sight, out-of-mind thing. Assign the person you’re trying to stay in contact with an object. Make sure it’s an object that you’ll run into somewhat regularly but not ten times a day, every day. So maybe not a car, but a red car? It can have some sort of special significance or it can be completely random. Then, whenever you see that object, make a point of contacting that person via text, call, FaceTime, etc.

So these are just a few ways to stay in contact with your loved ones that goes beyond texts and phone calls. Some of them will work better for different people but they’ll help you keep each other updated, and give you reasons to contact the other person. Good luck and happy summer!