UNITED STATES—Deck the halls and check your Wi-Fi connection! Perhaps you have little kids who are not the biggest fans of long journeys or maybe you don’t have the time or money to spend on costly airfare during the holiday season. Whatever the reason, living a long distance away from your loved ones means it’s not always possible to spend time with them… in person at least. Thanks to the magic of technology, we can connect with our friends and families in faraway places on a virtual level via apps like Skype, Facetime and WeChat, that allow us to make real time video calls.

Leading tech and gifts review site, GearHungry.com, conducted a survey (3,000) to find out how we are planning to spend Christmas in 2019, and an increasing trend, it seems, is to have a ‘virtual’ one. This is where you don’t actually go and visit your family, but link up with them at Christmas using video software, such as Skype, or FaceTime, instead. In fact, a significant 55% of Californians are planning on having a virtual Christmas this year – perhaps fed up with overpriced plane tickets home, or not being able to face the traffic on the roads.

Of those Golden state residents who do travel to see their families this Christmas, the average time they’re willing to spend getting there is 2.3 hours.

There’s still a stigma around spending Christmas on your own, without your family around you. 65% of us voted it the worst time of year to be alone. It trumped even birthdays (24%), New Year’s (6%) and Thanksgiving (5%). But it’s a contentious holiday – a quarter of couples admit to having argued with each other about whose side of the family to spend Christmas with.

So why are some of us choosing to stay at home for Christmas, instead of being with our family? 27% said it was because their family they live too far away, which, considering the size of our country, seems a genuine consideration. For 19% of us, cost is a huge factor; we simply don’t have the money to spend on air, bus or train fares. 18% are just happy to have some time to themselves and enjoy their own company, while 12% say they can’t get the time off work.

The survey revealed that a quarter of people say Christmas is the only time of year they speak with or see family members. In true holiday spirit, Christmas brings people together!

1 in 5 admit that they see family less in person because of video technology. Taking into consideration the high quality of technology these days, it’s no wonder this is the case, as a video call somewhat simulates the presence of a person. GearHungry.com have compiled a rundown of the 8 best video call apps for keeping in touch with your family:

https://www.gearhungry.com/best-video-call-apps-on-christmas/

And if the solitude gets too much? Just knock next door; 83% of big-hearted Californians say they would invite a neighbor to spend Christmas with them if they found they would be spending it alone. Merry Christmas everyone!

‘Technology is advancing at a quicker rate that we ever could have imagined. Today, there are tons of gadgets, gizmos and apps that help you virtually connect with the people you love without even having to be in the same country!’ says a spokesperson for GearHungry.com. ‘Having access to video calling apps takes the stress out of travelling long distances to visit your loved ones, allowing for a more laid-back holiday season.’