Let’s face it, to someone not living it everyday, your expat life sounds freakin’ amazing! So it shouldn’t be a huge surprise when people want to come and visit you. I love having visitors, those first five minutes of hugs and fun are wonderful, after that, well, it could go either way.
No matter how much you Skype, email or chat with people, having them here sharing your home, space and routine can be challenging. Having strategies might sound a bit military, but in the long run they can make having visitors run a lot smoother and stop a lot of unnecessary headaches.
If you can’t/won’t have time off work when your visitors are here, make this clear before they arrive. It’s useful for them to know they will have some independence and it gives them time to plan what they will be doing.
If you work from home it can be doubly difficult to deal with visitors, especially when they think your life is one long holiday. Make sure you have a space, preferably a door to
lock close where you can get away from distractions, if you can schedule work that isn’t too taxing or can be prepared in advance, do it.
If you are taking time off work remember this is your holiday too, maybe take a few days away together and take the pressure off yourself to host constantly.
Whilst you want them to have a good time don’t let that be at the cost of your sanity. All those tourist traps you avoid daily, your guests want to dive right in. Let them, you just remembered an errand you just have to do and you’ll meet them when they’re done.
It is always good idea to have a refuge where you can get away and shut the door, it’s usually the bedroom for me since we always end up with open plan apartments. Ten minutes
screaming into a pillow lying on my bed silently cursing cheap flights is enough to get me through another few hours with high maintenance guests.
Home from home is great but make sure to let them know that it’s a home and not a hotel. Don’t be afraid to as ask them to help out, most people would prefer to muck in and be useful. Let them.
Ask what they want to do on their visit. If you get the old ‘we just want to see you, do whatever you do normally’ ignore it. Honestly if I ended up on holiday with me, doing my normal everyday jobs, I’d die of boredom during the first morning. You don’t have to plan their holiday for them but having a go to source of information, even a guidebook to hand, can make outings easier to plan.
Provide a map, odds are that they won’t have access to internet beyond your WIFI anyway so a good solid paper map is always useful. Most importantly mark your home, then any meeting places, the main station, cash points, toilets, anything you think they would find useful.
Fill a folder with leaflets of things to do, events, tours, everything. Encourage them to pick their itinerary and provide any language or booking help they need before they leave the house.
For an easy life pick restaurants with English menus. German restaurants in particular can have massive menus and it can take a while to translate everything, sometimes it’s worth saving yourself the trouble and taking advantage of someone else’s work.
You can do piles of planning and still have a guest who drives you absolutely crazy. Embrace it, you’ll survive, they’ll survive and hopefully the rose tinted holiday glasses they were wearing will have made their visit a highlight of their year. They got to see you, and surely that’s everyones highlight right? 😉