When living abroad, you can expect plenty of house guests from back home. To make their visit run smoothly, here are some simple tips you can follow.
Having friends and relatives visit you while you are living abroad is an excellent way to stay connected with your nearest and dearest. It also gives you the perfect excuse to act like a tourist and discover a whole new appreciation for your home country; as seen through the eyes of those visiting for the first time. But to ensure that you and your house guests enjoy your time together, with no hiccups along the way, here are some simple tips to follow.
1. Time their visit wisely
More often than not, friends will check with you in advance to confirm the best time to visit. While the cost of flights can skyrocket during holidays like Christmas or Ramadan, this is still the most suitable time to travel for many; for most people, they can have time off work without using up their annual leave.
This also means that you don’t have to use your own precious holiday to entertain house guests instead. If you live in a country with a volatile climate, such as one with a monsoon or rainy season, advise your guests to avoid visiting then. After all, the last thing you want is to have them fork out a fortune on flights, only to be stranded inside your tiny apartment watching the heavens open outside. Remember, timing can make or break a trip – for both of you.
2. Set boundaries right from the start
When people want to visit, it always pays to tell them about your living situation and schedule from the get-go. This may sound a bit cold, but establishing boundaries from the start is an excellent way to set expectations and avoid any misunderstandings later on. If you have a busy work schedule and can’t afford to take time off, be upfront and tell them before they plan their trip. They’ll likely appreciate your honesty and value the time you can spend together. With any luck, they will be independent enough to go off exploring solo, anyway.
Similarly, if you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen every night cooking meals for your guests, or running late for work because you had to wait to use the shower, set some rules. You could suggest that you eat out locally or be the first to use the bathroom in the morning. Setting boundaries will help you avoid running into confrontation later on, or worse, being left filled with frustration and afraid to say anything.
3. Give your roommates plenty of notice
This might sound obvious, but it’s surprising how forgetful some people can be when it comes to informing their housemates about visitors. Hopefully, having people stay with you shouldn’t be an issue if you have excellent, laid-back roommates. Just let them know well in advance. You don’t want to deal with the drama of a housemate becoming traumatized after walking in on a strange, half-naked man in their bathroom first thing in the morning.
Things could go horribly wrong. Be respectful; check with your housemates to make sure they’re happy for people to stay before you give your guests the green light. This is especially important if your visitors will be sleeping in a communal area, where they will be forced to interact with your flatmates.
4. Have a spare key cut for visitors
Give your guest the freedom to come and go from your home as they please (within reason, of course); get a spare key. This saves you both a lot of hassle when it comes to planning your daily routines. The last thing you want to have to do is rush across town halfway through your workday to let them into your apartment. This also gives you both the opportunity to have your own space and do your own thing. After all, we naturally want to spend time with our friends – just not 24 hours a day.
So, if you really can’t stand the thought of trawling through the crowds at the local market for the millionth time, tell them you will just meet them at home once they’re all shopped out. Just make sure they know their way home, or at least have a Wi-Fi connection and Google Maps to navigate. As long as they don’t stumble home drunk at 3 am every morning, this is a great way to create space and freedom – and avoid driving each other mad.
5. Prepare an itinerary for your guests
One of the biggest perks of having house guests when living abroad is playing tour guide; you get to experience your home like a true tourist. After a while, expats can take for granted the plethora of rich cultural offerings that lie on their doorstep. Revisiting these hotspots can sometimes ignite a newfound appreciation for where you live. You might even notice new things, through your guest’s observations.
But if you aren’t willing to drop everything to take your visitors sightseeing, have a rough itinerary prepared for them. Depending on their interests – which you will hopefully know by now – suggest some sights and attractions they might enjoy; plus ones they should avoid. Giving them an outline of things to do also offers them the chance to do some research beforehand. It’s also a good idea to make a few bar and restaurant recommendations, too, which fit their budget. After all, they will likely work up quite an appetite with all that sightseeing.