04/15/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Virtual Valentine's Day

Over 7 million people are in long-distance relationships; but in this economy, most of these couples can't justify the splurge of airline tickets and gas against this weekend's Hallmark holiday.

Luckily, we have technology to help keep the long-distance spark alive. From smartphones to online video calling, a special Valentine's Day can be no further than a click away.

Take for instance Katie Kauffman and her fiancé Andrew Sorum, who is currently in Iraq. "The ability to 'see' each other everyday [via video call]," she says," has helped make this deployment a little bit easier."

With Andrew deployed well through the 14th, and Katie in Bismarck, North Dakota, the cross-continental couple will share Valentine's Day with a free, virtual date over video call, as they plan their upcoming wedding next September.

Katie and Andrew aren't the only ones taking advantage of some free face time. According to a recent Institute for the Future (IFTF) report on the Future of Video Communications, video calling peaks as high as 50% on major holidays.

And the comfort in front of the cam is growing. Within ten years, six in ten Americans believe, video calls will be as popular as voice calls.

Maintaining daily contact is important, but when you simply don't have enough time to chat, smartphones are a Godsend. You can just snap and send a picture of the sunrise, a pretty flower or even your smile, as a nice reminder that you are thinking of your special someone.

Another great way to share photos of you as a couple is to load them on a digital photo frame or key chain and mail it to your partner. It makes the perfect Valentine's Day gift.

Sharing similar experiences while apart is another way to bond when separated. So, think about purchasing an e-book for you and your significant other so you can read the paper or any book of choice together.

Finally, while nothing screams 'love letter' like some heartfelt snail mail, don't forget that this February 14th falls on a Sunday. To ensure the well-timed arrival of your note, you can go to to record your own free Valentine's Day themed video card.

Let's face it; roses are red, violets are blue, but what better treat, than a smile from you?