This word can mean so many things to different people.
Whether you fly, drive, catch a train, or go on a cruise - having time away from the day-to-day routine for even a weekend, does our souls good.
To us, it means full on family time. No work for G, no school for MissM, no making school lunches for me. Very often, we are entertaining family or friends who are visiting; sometimes we manage to get away ourselves (no where near as often as we'd like). We're getting better at Staycations (vacations one has at home, rather than going away)
So long as we're together, hanging out and chillaxing, we're fine (tho I am the first to admit I do get cabin fever much faster than they do)
For the first summer in years, we've no guests booked in (yet) for summer, so we decided to get organized as a means of avoiding boredom (detest that word). Our list of suggested Summer Staycation Ideas is already starting to take shape.
VACATION can also mean packing suitcases with climate appropriate clothing and shoes, and going somewhere you've never been to relax and explore. The work involved happens prior to departure, with guide books, exhaustive internet searches of what do do, where to stay, how to get from A to B and logging it all onto TripIt.
Vacations can be spent sitting by a pool at a resort, hiking the Himalayas, or touring Italy. A driving holiday around Ireland, or visiting a specific area of Australia can be great fun too (done both).
Only an expat knows that going to your home-base is (usually) anything but a holiday or a vacation.
Yes, you pack bags with weather appropriate clothing.
Yes, you log your itinerary onto TripIt, but rather than 'places of interest not seen before' you've a list of 'people of interest not seen since the last visit'
Therein lies the similarities.
To be fair, we always have an incredible time in Sydney. It's HOME, it's where we're from, it's full of memories, and familiar places (tho some have changed over the years), and it's complete with FRIENDS who know us so well it's not funny.
But Vacation, it's not.
Holiday, definitely not.
We leave 'home' stressed and anxious about the gifts we take, or having the right clothes for the weather, or having time to see everyone we want to see, managing a diary of sleepovers for MissM with both sets of grandparents, her cousins and god parents (the dates locked into the diary MrsH).
Please don't think this is a complaint, cos it's not. We are blessed that our network in Sydney is as tight and real as ever, despite the distance between us and that family and friends are so excited when we visit.
I've been chatting with a friends these past weeks trying to work out my feelings about the trip .... and was staggered to find so many common threads amongst expats about 'going home for a holiday'
- Going home is not a holiday. Just accept this, and you'll be fine.
- Do you tell everyone you're home and have a big party, or do you keep it a secret and only see close friends and family? (This is dependent upon the length of the visit)
- Our trips home were horrible as we were the one's driving all over the place cos 'everyone' wants you to come over for dinner or lunch, or afternoon tea. As soon as we said we've not got a car, you come to us, it was so much easier.
- You EAT non stop!
- Schlepping suitcases from parents to in-laws to siblings to friends might save money but it's a pain in the bum. You feel so nomadic all the time which makes the thought of going home so attractive.
- It usually costs a fortune and you return exhausted, but your husband has used most of his annual leave to visit 'home' that there's not much left for a vacation.
- There's no excitement about going home cos you know what's there - there's no exploring a new city, or eating interesting foods, or shopping for memorabilia.
- It's hard to fake excitement when everyone says 'oh you must be so looking forward to going home' when all you can think of is how are you going to juggle everything in two weeks?
- The envy you feel when others talk so lovingly of fabulous trips home, and wonder why your last visit wasn't.
- GIFTS - when you live in (insert country) and you take home culturally interesting things with every intention of thoughtfulness and you can see on the recipients face that they have no appreciation for it.
- Thinking how far the money to go home would get you if you went to Europe or Vietnam.
- Dealing with the kids emotions after spending time with cousins and being spoilt by grandparents.
- Trying to keep up with group conversations when out with friends gets harder the longer you're away, despite technology. You're just not there for the intimate times, as they aren't there for yours.
- The expectation that you will visit every year as you can afford it, you're an expat. Funny that everyone else doesn't travel internationally as often as they expect you to visit home.
- Finding the right month/s to visit especially when the kids are at school. Seldom are school holidays the same (northern hemisphere to southern, and county to country)
- Flying home and spending hours on your own, with the kids while everyone is at school or work then jamming stuff in every single night, or weekends doesn't make sense. They know we're coming, why can't they take a few days off work (oh! silly me, they are saving them for their holidays LOL)
- We book a large rental home on the beach and invite friends to stay for a few days at a time. That way we are ALL on holidays together and we don't have to drive all over the countryside visiting them - they visit us.
- Our family is scattered, so we meet in Hawaii or Bangkok (Singapore was mentioned, beachside Thailand as well as villas in Italy and Greece, or Port Douglas in Australia) and we're ALL on holidays. Saves time and money and drama.
- We make sure we have at least 3 nights kid-free (that's what grandparents are for, right?) every trip home. We book ourselves into the best hotel, and don't leave the room! We have room service, massages and sleep in.
I have to admit, I was shocked at some of the emotions people displayed when talking about this subject. I was also a bit relived - it's not just me that feels some/all of these things from time to time.
To everyone going 'home for Easter school holidays' I wish you a happy, fun filled, stress free, relaxing HOLIDAY full of giggles.
To those of you who are waiting with huge excitement for family to arrive from overseas, please be a little more considerate of their desire to have a holiday, some kick back time, to relax and regroup as a family as much as they are looking forward to catching up with you.