Remember the days when visiting your parents and other family members was something you did without much planning? When catching up with friends was just a normal activity on any ordinary day? And when holidays were spent exploring new exciting destinations, travelling to places where you didn’t know a single soul? Yeah… those days are definitely gone as soon as you become an expat.
I realise that I’m probably one of the last people that should complain about the amount of travelling they get to do. I get to travel quite a bit for work, and most of my friends will join me for a weekend away as soon as I mention the words city trip. But when you live in an other country than your (old) friends and family, you’re going to spend a fair amount of your well-deserved holidays on trips back home.
Because I hadn’t been home much this year I decided to spend my summer holiday in the Netherlands. I felt optimistic at the time that I booked my ticket when temperatures in London (that are exactly the same as in the Netherlands) were actually feeling like summer. I saw myself relaxing in my parents’ backyard, reading lots of interesting books, going to the beach and in between catching up with all the friends I hadn’t seen for so long.
Good plan. Not very realistic. Not so much because of the weather (which wasn’t so summer-like in the first week). But because catching up with everybody is – yes – a lot of fun, but anything but relaxing. I was staying at my parents’ house in between The Hague (where one half of my friends lives) and Amsterdam (where the other half lives). Of course I could have asked them to come my way, but The Hague and Amsterdam are so much more fun! So every day I took the train up north to Amsterdam or south to the Hague, and some days even both.
Because I desperately wanted to feel like I was on holiday as well, I spent exactly 1.5 day sitting in my parents’ garden as planned. Divine! Got to page 200 of the first book I started reading (out of a reading list of about 5), but still. It’s something.
So now I’m back at work. I still remembered my computer password (I love it when I don’t!) which is ‘exhibit A’ that this wasn’t a real holiday. And I don’t have any funny travel anecdotes or amazing sunset/rise photos to make my colleagues jealous (‘exhibit B’). Which is why I think expats should get at least two additional weeks to ‘recover’ from their trips back home. And to finally finish that damn summer reading list!