GOING HOME SERIES: 6 practical ways to destress your next expat visit ‘home’
Only 3 days into our travels to the states, stress, and anxiousness were starting to creep into my mind. Our first travels back to states after living in Turkey for a year was combined with our 1 month travels through SE Asia. While I thought it was a good idea, I was starting to see some of the holes in my preparation for our time in the states.
I started asking myself:
How was I going to see everyone in the short time I had? Why did we pick this time to come? How could I have reflected and prepared more so I don’t feel this way next time? How was I going to get my ‘to-do list’ done while spending quality time with other? How was I going to see everyone in the short time I had? Why did we pick this time to come? How could I have reflected and prepared more so I don’t feel this way next time?
Not only was I starting to feel overwhelmed by all I wanted to do, I was frustrated in my expectations of myself and what I thought I COULD do. Up until now, all of my returns to the states the 4 years I lived abroad were as a single gal. This time there were 2 of us which just means that I literally can not just go and do like I did before. We needed to think ahead and have some stability in our plans to help us stay on the same page during our visits.Not only was I starting to feel overwhelmed by all I wanted to do, I was frustrated in my… Click To Tweet
Here are 6 practical ways you can destress your next travels back ‘home’:
- Reflect and prioritize.
What is most important to you? What do you want to do with this time? Family? Certain friends? Enjoying food you missed? Make a list of what you would like to do then make a ‘MUST HAPPEN’ list and a ‘WOULD LIKE TOO’ list.
- List of people you want to see and schedule time
The temptation could be to wait until your friends back in your native home contact you. Waiting could upset you and even make you sad if your friends do not reach out to you. Instead, I suggest reaching out to the people you want to visit and encourage them to set a time.
If you are at the receiving end, I HIGHLY encourage you to communicate with your returning expat out BEFORE they come home. While you think it will magically all work out, your returning expat may be concerned about seeing everyone and making time for good, meaningful conversations. Just because your expat is visiting does not mean their schedule is free for whenever you to decide when to meet. Also, reaching out shows your expat they are loved and valued by you. Waiting for your expat friend to contact you is a test your retuning expat may not pass due to the marathon of visits they are making in their short visit.
Just remember that visiting friends and scheduling visits work BOTH ways! Don’t test each other by waiting to see who will contact who first.Just remember that scheduling visits work BOTH ways! Don't test each other by waiting to see who… Click To Tweet
3. Schedule time for family vacation
Going back ‘home’ for visit doesn’t always seem like a vacation, and it can be hard on the family to squeeze in time between work and daily responsibilities. If quality uninterrupted family time is important to you, schedule your visit to the states according, but also let that expectation be known to your family.
4. Schedule white space
Filling up all your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners can seem okay when you aren’t actually in your ‘home’ country, but it is a recipe for disaster. As you plan your visit block off time for your family (especially if you are married and/or have kids) to enjoy something fun together, play games, interact and reflect together through discussions and questions.
5. Have any online purchases bought and shipped.
I have a running list of items I either want from America and/or foods I want to remember to purchase. If possible, try to purchase what you want online before getting to the states which will free up more time to spend with people, handle returns if needed, and require less shopping when you get there.
6. Handle warranty items before you go.
I packed a few items with me to the states that I knew I wanted to be replaced. All of the warranty questions where handles via customer care numbers and emails. If I had done this before I left, the items would have just been waiting for me. Instead, I had to handle them in the middle of our visit.
In the end, preparation can be helpful, but the unexpected always pop up. Schedule in that downtime or white space gives you some cushion!
- Are you an expat living abroad? If so, where?
- What tips do you have for visits back to your home country?
- What steps above might you try for your next visit home?
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P.S. – This is the first post of a 6 part series called EXPAT GOING HOME SERIES. Stay tuned for the following articles:
Going Home Series: Self-care and why it is important for expat returning home
Going Home Series: Managing expectations for expats returning home