Tuesday, 3 May 2016

6 Ways to Make Sure Your Summer Holiday is Really a Holiday When You're an Expat

For my first few years as an expat my husband and I spent most of our holiday allowance travelling to and fro to England for long weekends. Once we had three young children the ‘popping back’ for short stays stopped, but our children do not do house-jumping between various friends and family members well. It isn’t their ideal summer holiday, no matter how wonderful it is to see everyone. They find it difficult to settle and tend to arrive back in the Netherlands more tired than when we set out. So we had to get creative and work out ways to see loved ones without the lodging hopping and constant travelling.

Here’s what we have come up with over the years:

Stop half way

Choose a holiday destination that means you can stop off half way and see friends and family en route. For us this has meant holidaying in Cornwall, England with stop-offs at family on the way to and from the Eurotunnel or boat, sometimes staying a night or two and other times just popping in for lunch.

Invite loved ones

Ask your friends or family to join you in your chosen holiday venue. Book accommodation big enough to invite others to stay with you, either for a few days or the duration, or make sure you stay somewhere where loved ones can also stay nearby. This way you get to explore new sights and spend time with those that matter.

Announce your arrival and sit back

Let people know when you will be back in town and where you will be staying and ask them to come to you. This way you don’t end up traipsing from one house to another. People will usually understand that you have already done the travelling to get back and find their way to you, particularly if you have young children. It’s a great excuse to organise a family party so you can see everyone at the same time.

Explore ‘home’ like a tourist

Take the opportunity to explore ‘home’ through the eyes of a tourist. Do some planning before you return and find places you either have not been to for a while, or have never visited. Challenge yourself to see ten new things in the area you once lived and explore the local area. This way you can alternate or combine sight-seeing with visiting loved ones – a win-win situation for the children especially.

Show your children your cultural roots

Use a trip ‘home’ to share the life you led before you moved overseas and share your cultural roots with your children. Let them see where you went to school, where you used to work, where you played with your friends. Introduce them to food and events that are typical of your birth country’s culture. Encourage them to practice speaking the local language. Immerse them in your heritage.


Invite friends and family to you over the summer and explore close to home instead of traveling far. So often we head further afield but don’t visit the sights under our nose. Make a list of things you haven’t yet seen or done in the Netherlands, or take your visitors away for a short break in Belgium, Germany or France. Or you can involve your visitors in a bit of summer culture fun using their countries of origin. Either way, you get the best of both worlds.


  1. So true that visits home don't always feel like a break. I love this idea of being a tourist in your hometown. Going home with a young child really helped me do that. I found so many attractions that I wouldn't have done as an adult, but were great for kids - it was like visiting a new city!

  2. Ha ha - I had to laugh when you said "popping back". We popped back to Australia a few months ago and it was the least restful experience I have ever had. There were some extenuating circumstances including sharing a small house with my brother and his family of 4 but it was really quite stressful. Your tips are very useful. Another tactic that has worked well for us is announcing a day when we are catching up with people in the park. Everyone bring their own picnic or bbq and hangs out. That way you can see quite a few people. The really special ones deserve extra attention of course. Some of my best friends took sick days from work so we could hang out. That was a special and funny day.