There is no place like Skype for the holidays

With airfares out of reach for many Americans, Skype might be the best solution for a family reunion

Technology trends and news by Krystal Peak
November 23, 2011
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It's comforting to know that I am not alone in my inability to fly across the country (or out of the country for the case of my parents) to go home for Thanksgiving.

Depending where in the country you are, airfares are up across the nation -- some places as high 20% over the previous year.

This is causing a lot more families to create virtual holiday festivities using sites like Skype to digitally go home for Thanksgiving.

Skype has been a great saver for my pocketbook since I have family in Mexico, Hawaii and France that I like to keep in touch with but can't always pay for phone credits or plane tickets -- though I would love to go.

And for all of you children and grandchildren, the video features really quench that 'I never see you' fix -- plus I am terrible at sending photos and Skype allows you to quickly send a pic or attach a link to anything you want to share.

Anyone with a WiFi or Internet connection can video or voice call for as long as they please -- I have even heard of setting a Skyped-up laptop at the dinner table to join in the meal and conversation.

While I do not go that far, I will be making my regularly scheduled Skype call to my parents in Mexico to find out if they are going to be cooking the traditional turkey and stuffing fare or if it will be chicken tamales and roasted tomatillos.

Skype has also created a group calling feature for $4.99 a call that will allow a video chat with up to nine Skype contacts -- for the really geographically-challenged families.

And the beauty of Skype is how quickly you can set up an account for mom or grandpa on their laptop, desktop, iPad or smartphone.

To be fair, Skype isn't the only game in town and I would also recommend using Google+'s new video chat features for family members that might like that platform better or already use some of the Google features everyday.

And for Apple-centric families, FaceTime is another option that works across Macs and iPhones.

The importance is finding a platform that everyone feels comfortable on so that you are training the fewest number of people.

Even the family member that expected to get home in time for dinner but were held up by bad whether on the East Coast can take advantage of the growing prevalence of wifi in airports and make it to the gathering in time for grace.


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