Enjoying your vacation at home when you’re an expat can be somewhat challenging for a number of reasons. It is great to get home and see the family. But there are a number of challenges that can make it somewhat more stressful than relaxing. We know that the travel home can be long and tiring, depending on where you’re based. You are probably already tired from work and daily life. Jet lag can eat up some of your time, keeping you up at night, falling asleep during the day or vice versa. Vacation time is short, especially if there are a lot of people to see and appointments to make. You’re going to spend a lot of time with your family, and you may not be use to it. Plus, don’t forget this is your vacation, so you also want to spend some time having fun and relaxing.
Trying to please everyone or feeling guilty about not seeing someone enough or at all, is the quickest way to ruin your vacation. Pre-COVID, my trips home were 2 weeks long. They were busy! It took me a week to get over the jet lag properly. I had doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments, hair appointments and other personal business I had to take care of. I had to sort through mail and buy supplies for my return. It takes time.
What I’ve realised is that I’m not able to please everyone. Some people will be a little disappointed that they weren’t able to see me more and spend more time with me. That’s OK. These trips have multiple purposes and things that I have to do. Plus I want time to have a spa day in order to relax, I want to go shopping and I want to go to movies and plays and have fun. Remembering that this is my vacation and that it’s OK to schedule in things solely because I wanted to do them, is OK. Sometimes I even went off and did things on my own, if no one wanted to or could join me. A little self care, if you will.
You know your time at home will be busy. In order to ensure that you get the rest and relaxation you need, realise that you might need to ensure that you have plans for another vacation. In the middle of my last trip home, I booked a few days up north for a cabin on a lake. This was an opportunity to sit on a dock and read and swim. It was exactly the peace and quiet I wanted.
I also have plans for a trip in October for a yoga retreat, which is the fun and relaxation I really want. Having these plans allow me to manage my mind about the business that I experience while at home. I knew there was a proper break coming up. I avoided the feelings of overwhelm and panic thinking that wasn’t going to happen.
There are two thoughts that I have that help to enjoy my time at home. 1) My time at home is short and I want to enjoy it with the people who mean the most to me. I spend the time that I can with my family and friends. Not being able to spend more time with someone or do something with them, doesn’t make them any less important. I focus on being present and enjoying my time regardless. I know I may not return for another six months, so I want to be fully present for the moments that I am there.
2) I cannot control what others think or feel. Some people will feel disappointment. I approach these situations from a place of love and understanding, not frustration or anger. They can feel disappointment or hurt and I can accept that. I know that is never my intention. If I am true and honest with myself, I can allow others to feel their feelings and not try to compensate for them.
It does take some effort to plan any vacation and trips home when you are an expat require planning and preparation. With clear expectations and organisation, you can achieve your objectives and enjoy yourself and your time with your family.
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