This post is also available in: Spanish
So you live abroad and your loved ones can’t wait to visit you. After a bout of homesickness, that’s great news! Though, and I’d hate to burst your bubble, it’s not all that easy to plan for visitors while living abroad.
I’m a planner, but when I’m traveling, I don’t like to plan every single detail. When I’m traveling solo, I like to leave some room for spontaneity. When visitors come, however, this doesn’t work as well, no matter how laid back they say they are. While you can’t plan for every disaster, here are some tips that will hopefully save you some drama!
1. Ask what their expectations are
Like I said, no matter how laid back your loved ones think and say they are, traveling is an uncomfortable thing. And more often than not, people do have some sort of imagined outcome of their trip. They’re spending money on it, after all.
You need to know what these expectations are so that you can plan around what they most want to get out of the trip. If they don’t communicate that they wanted to see more historical sites instead of hiking, for example, then they’ll miss out and you’ll feel bad and… oh, the drama!
2. Wait until you’re acclimated
You’ll need time to adjust to a new life in a new place and culture and language. Be mindful of this and plan your visitor trips accordingly. Give yourself at least three months, even four. It will also give you time to miss your loved ones, making the reunion more beneficial for both parties.
3. Plan three types of activities
Plan three types of activities:
1. ones you know they’ll like (and have expressed they’d like to do)
2. ones that show them your new life
3. ones you know you’ll like to do together
This way, you won’t feel like you’re playing tour guide the whole time (which, you might be). You’ll also be able to share the things you’re learning from the culture with them, which I think people who love you will appreciate. And doing things you already enjoy together in a new place is always fun.
4. Check the weather
I’ve had visitors come during a break in December in northwest Spain where all it does is rain and rain and rain some more. We spent most of the time indoors because, well, there wasn’t much else to do (not to mention everything kind of shuts down during the holidays here). I also had someone visit me toward the end of the rainy season in Thailand, and when we went deep water soloing one day, we got caught in a torrential downpour in the middle of the ocean. Then the boat broke.
You can’t always plan for the weather, but you can consider the seasons. When is it coldest where you are? Do things close like they do here in Spain during the holidays? What activities would your guests like to experience? If they’re outdoor, recommend they plan their trip during a more appropriate season.
5. Take time apart
For better or for worse, traveling takes you out of your comfort zone. When you’re traveling with family or friends, you’re often in very close quarters. Those little things about someone you forget about when you’re not with them will start to resurface. You’ll find that you’re always together.
It’s okay to take a break from each other, even though you know you won’t be seeing much of them after they leave. But everyone needs a break from people, even from the people they love the most (perhaps even especially so).
So, take them when you start to feel like it’s a little too much closeness. It doesn’t have to be long. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Have a coffee alone.
It’s a great experience sharing travels with the people we love the most. But it comes with some realities. Hopefully these tips on how to plan for visitors abroad help! And you can save the drama for when you come home, and make some nice memories abroad.