1. Make communication a priority. I think the biggest thing standing in the way of long-distance friendships is that it feels like there is never enough time to nurture them. Reminding yourself to make reaching out a priority is always helpful, even if it means setting a calendar reminder or sending them a text saying that you need to schedule a phone date soon.
2. Plan stuff in advance. Because, unfortunately, it just won’t happen otherwise. If you’re going to be in town, tell them as soon as you find out, instead of waiting until the weekend before. If you want to make a Skype date, pick a day and time, so then you can look forward to it and make sure you don’t schedule something over it.
3. Snapchat or send them pictures when you’re doing fun stuff you think they’d enjoy. Make them feel like part of your world, even if your world is now on the other side of the country, or the other side of the world.
4. Write letters. Be the pen pal you wish to see in the world. Writing letters is always a cute little thought we have before we remember that it would require buying stamps and finding a mail box, and then completely give up on it. Don’t give up! Treat yourself to some cute stationery and stamps and start writing. The best part is, when they respond, you’ll get mail in return. And who doesn’t love mail that isn’t bills?
5. Plan a trip just the two of you (or the three or four of you, etc.). There is a limited amount of time in your life where you will actually have time to plan friends-only trips. And while, yes, it’s a big challenge to prepare for a trip, you and your best friend could set savings goals and execute them together, bringing you even closer. You can pick a destination together, plan the trip together, find side hustles together, and then encourage each other to sock away money.
6. Make Face Time dates! You have the technology to see each other’s faces in the literal palm of your hand. Use it.
7. Give them lots of warning when you’re coming into town. Because there’s nothing worse than making your friend feel like you didn’t care enough to even make plans with them. Even if your long-distance friend isn’t your first priority when you come to town, that doesn’t mean they won’t want to make time for you. Make sure they know you’re thinking about them.
8. Text them memories. Every time a “aw, remember when” pops into your head, let them know. Maybe you open TimeHop and want to send them a picture you took five years ago to the day. Or maybe you’re just sitting at your desk, and can’t get one memory of the two of you out of your head. Either way, text them so they can share the memory with you.
9. Listen to a podcast together so you can discuss it weekly. Or watch a show together that you can discuss, or participate in a Bachelorette bracket or a fantasy football league.
10. Go out of your way to do something over the top for their birthday. It doesn’t need to be expensive. You could write them a poem, or make them a photo collage, or make a list of 23 (or however old they’re turning) inside jokes you guys shared. Make them feel special, and like they’re getting love from every corner of the country or globe, not just from the people they see every day.
11. Follow up on the things you know are going on in their life. That’s really the biggest part of keeping in touch. When you see each other in person, and they tell you about an event they’re looking forward to in two weeks, make a mental note to ask them about it. When they’re applying for new jobs, check in on their job search, and wish them luck on interviews.
12. Make sure you get an email thread going, mainly to distract yourself at work, but also so you can swap recipes, memes, videos, and interesting articles with your best friends.
13. Surprise them. In any way you can. Show up unannounced (plot with some of their local friends or S.O.), or surprise them with a small, sentimental “just ’cause” present in the mail. Show them that even though you guys don’t live close, they’re still at the top of the list of people you love.