For many of us, the holidays are about visiting family, sitting down together over a meal, and spending quality time together. But sometimes, that's just not possible. Perhaps you live on the other side of the world or simply don't have the money for a trip this year. For whatever reason, even if you can't physically be with your family this year doesn't mean you can't still connect with them. Technology has changed the way we communicate with each other in drastic ways. If you can't make it to see your family in person this year, there is no shortage of affordable options to help you connect. So in the spirit of the holidays, here are some of the apps you can use to better keep in touch on a budget:

Already with tens of millions of users, this company is definitely doing something right. As the saying goes: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" That's why TextMe has rolled out its messaging app across multiple platforms. How? It uses the cloud to store all your phone's data so you can access your phone through different platforms and keep in touch via video chat, call, SMS, etc. Users even have the option to create multiple phone numbers and manage them all from a single account. This way, you can have a local number for your friends in France, while visiting family in Canada, or you can set up a different number with a German area code, specifically for the friends you meet at the bar during your trip to Berlin. Another cool feature is TextMe Web, which allows users to text or call any number in the world - even landlines - for free. With the web version, you can also access your entire phone through your browser. And unlike competitors like WhatsApp Web, your phone doesn't need to be nearby for access, which eliminates the need for a data connection. Your phone can be out of battery, lost, or in another room and you can still keep in touch with your contacts.

One of the biggest problems with most free communication apps is that they don't allow you to easily talk to more than one person at a time. With Tango, however, you can connect multiple people in one chat. Even if your friends and family are spread out all over the world, everyone can easily catch up. Besides video calls, users can also voice call, text, share pictures, videos, play games, and send music to one another. Tango can also be used with a variety of platforms, included Android, Apple and Windows devices. That easy access and use helps back up Tango's claim to be the "all-in-one" social networking app.

For families that are emotionally close but separated physically, GroupMe is a great app to keep everyone connected. Although the app does support one-on-one messages, it was designed with group chats in mind. Similar to a small chat room, you can share photos, videos, and other media with all your friends and family. And it doesn't matter if your contacts have iOS, Android or Windows phones, the app works with all types of devices. In fact, your loved ones don't even have to have a GroupMe account, they can still join the conversation through SMS in the GroupMe chat.

Sure, there are more ways than ever to stay in touch nowadays, but all too often we can't seem to find the time to actually reach out to our family and friends. Whether it's because we lead busy lives, or live far apart, we put off picking up the phone until months, or years, have passed without any communication. The Bond app puts an end to that by reminding you to connect with loved ones. With the app, you select when in your schedule is convenient for you and then Bond will remind you it's time to catch up with your loved ones. Users can further customize notifications to include specific contacts, communication methods, and how often they want to try to speak with each person. Being separated from your loved ones during the holidays can be a real downer. But with these apps, you'll never really be alone this time of year. What about you? What apps do you use to keep in touch with loved ones over the holidays? Let me know in the comments. What about you? What apps do you use to keep in touch with loved ones over the holidays? Let me know in the comments.

Published on: Dec 24, 2015