When you live abroad, you’ll inevitably go back home sooner or later – visiting family, friends, “the old home”… But – – especially at first, these trips may feel quite overwhelming and packed, or like you’re not getting the best out of them. If you feel like you’re coming back from visits home more tired than when you left – I’ve got you!
Let’s look at common types of visitors, identify which one you tend to be most often, and find ways to make visits home more enjoyable and relaxing!
(Disclaimer: the types are completely my invention, with a bit of a ‘wink’, based on what I see around me, it’s not based on any scientific research. Mostly applicable to people who have a clear ‘home country’ having grown up in one place)
Type 1 – The Frantic Scheduler
Characterised by their calendar filled to the max to fit everyone into their 7-day stay, and trying to visit anyone who they haven’t seen for a while. Involves complex travel logistics and spending a lot of your time commuting or thinking about ‘the next thing on the agenda’.
Frequently results in the feeling of overwhelm, tiredness, often ends up in catching an infection straight after coming back from the trip. Accompanied by the feeling of guilt triggered by the feeling of never being anywhere long enough to feel that ‘quality time’ fully.
Type 2 – The Pamper Child
You can identify a pamper child type by having to look after them during their stay and making the various wishes and dreams come true (eating their favourite meals, visiting favourite places etc). You’ll see that under the disguise of gratitude there would be an expectation of being in the centre of attention when they arrive to visit. Not much reciprocation will be involved.
The pamper child may realise that they’re not getting the best out of their stay, despite feeling relaxed and appreciated. By not participating actively in the family’s or friend’s lives they’re actually getting further away emotionally from them with each stay. When they realise that, the guilt feelings may kick in, and trigger some changes in behaviour to balance out the relaxing and investment in relationships during their future stays.
Type 3 – The Attached
Each trip ‘back home’ includes using services that ‘they’ve always used’ and not willing to change. You know – doctors, dentists, hairdressers… Meaning that they postpone some of the things they could have arranged in their host country (including for their health!) until the visit home.
Under the disguise of the services being cheaper or better ‘back home’, they miss out on the opportunity to open up to increasing their belonging in the host country. Using local services and having ‘your’ cafe, ‘your’ hairdresser, ‘your’ doctor there can feel really good. More importantly, it can increase the feeling of self-efficacy in the new country.
What if there was a Type 4, a have-it-all?
The have-it-all type of visit home could involve travelling without the overwhelm, while still experiencing a bit of the pamper and relaxation and making use of the necessary services.
Impossible, you say?
Well, I dare to say otherwise, but I also realise that the below applies to those of you who are able to travel home more than once a year. When visiting home and coming back tired we can start questioning if moving abroad was a good thing to do. It comes with compromises, for sure! But – – navigating those trips more assertively comes easier as you progress with your expat life though!
How to get the most out of your visits home, without the overwhelm?
1. Schedule realistically: It’s tempting to meet with everyone and visit them at home, and max out your stay. The frantic schedule though may result in you seeing everyone but not spending enough of quality time with them.
Instead of you spending your precious time home on commuting, maybe you can get some friends to come and see you instead? Maybe you can ‘batch up’ your visits to not meet everyone individually? Perhaps you can set up a bigger meeting/party instead? Maybe your friends can visit you abroad as well, versus waiting for you to come over?
Remember that trains and cars work both ways! 🙂
I know, it’s tough, and you can’t expect people to do this necessarily – but trips home are also an expense for you each time you come over, and at some point you need to prioritise.
It’s not all on your shoulders to maintain the relationship – relationships and friendships are two-way streets. And yes, the reality is that moving abroad can verify the depth of some of these relationships…
2. Get the pamper, but give something back: Remember how we said that relationships are a two-way street? I’m all for getting pampered when I visit home and asking my parents to prepare some favourite dishes, or for them to spoil me a bit. That said, I do my best to reciprocate! It could be as simple as helping them around the house while I’m there, all the way up to bringing some gifts over. When I avoid the frantic scheduling this also allows me to be fully present with the friends or family that I’m meeting during my stay. And that’s a gift on its own, I feel.
3. Release some of your time by exploring the host country: Part of the problem with frantic schedulers is that a lot of the agenda is actually filled with those doctor, dentist, hairdresser visits. What if you tried to tick these day-to-day items from your list before you travel back home? This can give you an extra quality time to spend with the ones you love! Added bonus is that you’ll also feel more settled and adapted to the new country you’re in. Win-win situation!
Which type of visits do you typically default to these days? Let’s connect via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Instagram @projectabroadblog and chat about that!
If you need support with your move abroad and reducing the overwhelm of the transition – grab my free Moving Checklist! It’s a comprehensive resource, so that you can get the logistics sorted and be sure you’ve thoughts of everything. Thanks to this, you gain the mental space to process this big life transition and work on your own personal growth resulting from it!