Leaving friends and family can be painful. In particular, leaving your best friend when you go off to college can be one of the most difficult realities you face. But don’t worry — there are several ways to stay connected as long-distance best friends.

Here are some tips to help you reinforce your best-friend bond before leaving, so you can remain close no matter how far apart you really are.

1. Spend a whole day doing all of your favorite things together

Have you and your best friend gone on weekly ice cream dates together since you were 8 years old? Have a favorite restaurant you’d always go to after school? Did the two of you meet at a dance class in 8th grade? Look back on your favorite memories and most cherished moments by celebrating your friendship. Before you leave for school, book a day and enjoy your favorite activities together, whether it be visiting meaningful haunts or having movie marathons at home. 

2. Make a plan for staying in touch

Texting 24/7 is nice, but face-time will make the real difference when you are apart from a close friend. Scheduling a regular time to see each other (even if it’s on a laptop screen) is a great affirmation of your bond. Also, connecting this way allows the two of you to fill each other in on the happenings of college life. You could even “meet” each other’s roommates! 

3. Pack and plan for college together

Preparing to leave for college doesn’t have to be done alone. If your best friend is also going away to school, include each other in the packing process. You’ll likely want to spend as much time together as possible anyway, plus you’ll be able to help each other decide what to bring and how to go about transitioning to college. The lifestyle and environment will likely be new for both of you, so you might as well use each other as support sources in the meantime. 

4. Exchange meaningful keepsakes

Give your best friend something to remind them of you each day. This could be something as small as a bracelet or necklace or even matching t-shirts. Whether you plan to wear them or not, a reminder of your best friend can be a helpful support mechanism when you miss each other most. You could even make collages of old photos you have together and exchange them as wall decorations to hang above your bed.

5. Plan visits to see each other

Try to coordinate schedules and hometown visits. Knowing when you’ll see each other again can relieve a lot of the stress of leaving.

It might be difficult at first, but it’s possible to maintain your friendship even if you live hours away from each other or make lots of new friends. If anything, your friendship may get stronger because you’ll make the most out of the time you do share.