After living away from whatever place you call “home” for an extended amount of time, you would think that those who are away are eager and ready for the adventures that await when they touch down.
For whatever reason someone may find themselves living abroad, the scheduled trips “back home” can be an exciting event. BUT, as much as that desire to be back in a familiar place, have fun times with friends and just kick it with family may arise traveling home can be stressful. And although your expat friends and family may not fill you in, I’m here to let you know the reasons your friends & family dread visiting home.
IT’S TOO EXPENSIVE
Traveling anywhere can be expensive, let’s just be honest. But, people may be surprised to find that most expats spend more money visiting home than they do traveling to other countries. Not only are we making up for the time that we have missed with our loved ones, but we are also paying for expenses that don’t normally occur during regular travel.
Think about it, when you travel to a foreign country you may cover airfare, lodging, food and let’s sprinkle a few tours to make this scenario believable. But as an expat, we pay for all of that, PLUS some. We are frequently looked at to pick up the food tab because that one family member is pocket patrolling.I know you making good money over there. You got the bill right? Click To Tweet
Our lodging has to be covered longer than your typical vacation. There aren’t a whole lot of expats that still have homes to go back to and couch surfing may not be an option so, hotels get our money. We also aren’t paying for your everyday cultural tours. We are typically spending money to go to every concert, club, outing, and event that we can get to so that our minimal time home isn’t wasted. And IT’S NOT CHEAP!!
WE EAT OUT A LOT
Eating out easily falls under the expensiveness of visiting home but the disadvantages that come along with constantly eating out gives this factor a section of its own.
When you think of going home and visiting you probably think of the Sunday dinners you’ve so sadly missed out on. You may even look forward to the cookouts that bring out all of your family and friends and those famous dishes that you’ve been craving. And my personal favorites are the foods that I can’t cook abroad or buy. The foods that can only be purchased right at the restaurant or store. Those foods bring tears to my eyes, and eventually, the tears flow from my pockets when I’m pinching pennies.
The expense of eating out is different when you have no other choice but to eat out. As an expat, we come home and would love home-cooked meals every day, but in reality, it’s not possible. People still are living their lives and realistically aren’t catering to or for us. Non-expats may say, “Why don’t you cook?” This expat says, “WHERE!!?” When we come home there are not usually an array of kitchens, utensils or space for us to cook and store food, so our only option is to eat out. Outside of eating our money away, we often eat those nice summer bodies away. All that hard work we put in goes slowly down the drain when we constantly eat with no gym or place to work it off. It’s chaos, to say the least.
COME SEE US!!
After traveling hundreds to thousands of miles from the comfort of the places around the globe that we now call home, one may think that friends and family would come in droves to visit us. But, as many expats find when traveling home, that isn’t always the situation. We often get asked to travel crazy distances with no consideration for our time, money or the physical efforts that go into traveling.
Now don’t get us wrong, we don’t mind coming to you if you aren’t far or even if you give us notice and try to compromise. You know, compromises like: I drive 3 hours to see you. You cook at least ONE meal for your girl. (Food is always a good idea)
All we want is a little give and take.
WE MISS OUR SPACE
Have any of you ever moved out of your parents’ house and for whatever reason were forced back into staying for ‘X’ amount of time? I have and let me tell you, IT’S NOT FUN!! (oh, hey mom 👋🏾)
Whether we are back with the parentals, having sleepovers with friends or couch surfing, there is absolutely nothing like having your own. When we visit home it is rare that expats have their own homes to go back to. We are typically lodging in hotels or in someone else’s home. This can be so frustrating no matter how hospitable the host.
Coming in the house at respectful hours, keeping your things out of the way or even adapting to someone else’s rules can be tough after you have been on your own.
And let’s not forget about sleeping in the comfort of your own bed. I mean, seriously, can someone schedule me with the chiropractor?
NO REST TIME
NOBODY: Forget sleep!! Wooohooo!
Me: We can sleep when we’re dead!
When we visit our homes as expats it is usually during holidays and/or leave time from work. No matter the reason, coming home is literally a race against time. We are regularly creating jam-packed schedules to ensure that we see everyone, attend weddings, kiss babies and show up for those special events. And as we all know, humans don’t run on battery packs so rest is essential but minimal.
Now, although most of the time our rest and relaxation are based on how we personally schedule our time home, the best way you can help a traveling friend is to offer understanding and flexibility when we visit. Don’t be mad if we can’t see you every time you request. Allow us to sleep in. Understand if we don’t feel like painting the city everyday, we ARE on vacation.
LIVING OUT OF A BAG
If you’ve never rummaged through a suitcase looking for underwear that you are sure you had but may also possibly be in your other bag thats out in the car, then you’ve never lived out of a bag. Visiting family & friends requires us to pack serveral days to weeks of clothes that are suitable for everything that we want to do while we are home. On top of making sure that we have all of the proper attire for our trip we also have to keep up with every item.
Imagine hanging out at a friends house in your casual get up and BAM! Your crazy cousin calls with plans to hang out all night. Sounds fun right? It would be if you didn’t ride with your friend and leave your suitcase at your parents house who live in a neighboring city 30 minutes away.
Welcome to the expat bag life.
We often leave things behind, misplace items or have to travel with bags close by to prevent disasters from happening. Call Erykah Badu because expats are the ultimate “Bag Lady”.
PROGRESSION OF LIFE
As much as people believe that expat life is amazing (which it can be) the side of it that we don’t often share is our huge case of FOMO.
FOMO= FEAR OF MISSING OUT
Yes, living in a new place and meeting new people is great. But it’s that gut-wrenching feeling that we get when we call home to check on family and we realize, “Sunday dinner is going to happen without you.” Or when we log on to Facebook and see that our friends are getting married and we can’t make it due to work, money, time or distance.
The progression of life will continue no matter where we are in the world. We don’t want anyone to stop living, no, it’s just the opposite. We want you all to live your best life and if possible we would love for everyone to live their best lives together, in one place.
So, when your family member who has been away visits but can’t comment on any of the latest topics of conversation, don’t leave them hanging. Or if your friends visit from being away and can’t relate to the surroundings of an environment that was once common to them, be understanding.
And lastly if your favorite aunt visits and can’t believe how tall you’ve gotten and how many sporting events she’s missed you play in – that’s her allergies bothering her,
aunt Tia she isn’t crying.
REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK
Living in any destination for an extended amount of time can cause one to get comfortable. You start to pick up the habits, languages and culture of the land you reside in. You even get accustomed to certain things that you may have never been exposed to like: Customer service, rights, entitlements, and security.
Depending on where your family/friends are traveling from, coming home can be a big adjustment. You may see signs of enjoyment for the freedoms possibly lacking in their residential countries. You could also experience overt disdain for the unchanging climate that we left and have returned to. Whatever it may be, understand that coming home can be a big adjustment and you can help your expat friends and family by considerate of what we may experience when returning home.
Who wants to play, “LET’S ASK A BUNCH OF QUESTIONS THAT’S NONE OF OUR BUSINESS!?” An expats favorite game! Ok, that may have been a bit harsh but I want to drive the point home. After being away for an extended amount of time, everybody and their mama’s are surrounding us to ask:
Are you coming back?
When are you getting married?
When are you having kids?
Can you bring me one of those things back?
Can I have some money?
Your expat friends and family won’t mind you checking in and asking about their lives. BUT, there is a fine line in checking in and being nosey. Use your discretion.
Please understand that even if there were 100 million stressors that came along with visiting home we woud STILL do what we can to come and love on you. (Maybe not 100 million). We ultimately just want your help to make our visits less stressful and more enjoyable with you.
Talk to your expat friends today and find out what stresses they have when they visit home.
If you are an expat comment some of the stressors that didn’t make the list when you travel home!
Until next time,
Take the world