As much as you enjoy living your expat life, sometimes it’s necessary to return “home” to regroup. It’s an opportunity to handle practical matters and catch up with loved ones. It’s also a time to reflect on the past and do a reset for the future.
I think the trip “home” begins even before you leave your chosen country. While you can’t buy souvenirs for everyone, you want to bring back a few well-thought-out gifts that give family and friends a small taste of your life abroad. There’s also a very practical consideration of how much room there is in your luggage.
Definitely, I think it’s better to lean towards food unique to where we’ve been. I remember the amazing selection of teas in Sri Lanka and the coffee in Vietnam. Clothes items like scarves are nice since they take up little space, and you don’t need to worry about sizes.
Which brings me to the next point: How do you decide who to visit, given a limited amount of time? Especially on your first trip back, everyone wants to know the details of your new life. But how many times can you recount the same awkward incidents or describe the same World Heritage site?
There are people, like our family members, we try to give as much time as possible. It’s great to be with our daughters and mothers, who’ve really missed us. But sometimes the only way to see our friends is to pick a place and park ourselves, let them know where we are, and encourage them to stop by.
It also leaves more time for the less fun but necessary tasks like having eye exams, dental check-ups, and, ugh, the dreaded colonoscopy. I know we are both looking forward to the time when we find the right doctors outside the U.S.A. — typically at a fraction of the cost.
Sorting everything in my luggage was a surprisingly fun way to rethink what to pack. Going through boxes in our storage locker was like shopping for new clothes. There were things I didn’t remember I had that I like a lot. It was also a great way to decide what to keep or give away. If I hadn’t worn it in the past nine months, then I probably didn’t need it. It was a chance to purge.
That’s kind of analogous to what we are doing in our travels. Revisiting our former home is a chance to look back on what we’ve experienced since our last departure. It’s also a reminder that while we appreciate our old home and lives, we couldn’t be more excited for the next adventure.
Debating whether to leave your old life behind? Want to share experiences of visits back to your former home? We would love to hear from you!
by: Mike & Eileen Brill-Wagner