Request annual leave. Book flights. Book accommodation. Go. This is the usual order in which I plan my holidays. I prefer to use my annual leave for travelling and the odd productive day for when the 48 hour weekend just doesn’t suffice. No matter how much you love your 9- 5, it’s always nice to go away.
Problem is, since moving abroad ‘going away’ doesn’t always mean away from my home in Frankfurt, but also away to my home in London. I recently spoke to another expat who also has the dilemma of whether to use annual leave to go home and spend time with family and friends or to go and see more of the world.
So how do we find a balance?
Is it crucial?
Firstly, I don’t go home back to the UK unless it’s crucial.
This year, it got as crucial as my sister’s wedding. I wouldn’t have missed that for the world, but that was about it because it’s just not possible to go to every event or party anymore.
Whilst I generally don’t use my laptop to work from home (wherever ‘home’ may be on that specific day), I am lucky enough to attend work events abroad as part of my job and this year one of the locations was London. Combined with a few days of annual leave, a weekend and a bank holiday, I was able to spend a week back home with my friends and family. Working in your home city, whether it be for events or simply working remotely, allows time with loved ones without using your annual leave days.
It’s always a lot more relaxed when people come to visit me rather than when I go home to visit everyone. There’s no rushing from a one hour catch up over coffee with one friend to a lunch date with another. It’s relaxed and your friend has your undivided attention for an entire weekend. It also means that you don’t necessarily have to take a day off work. I’m sure your friends can accompany themselves until you get back from the office 🙂
Go on holiday with people from home
Another way to spend quality time with friends is to actually just go on holiday with them yourself. That way you both get a holiday and there’s more than enough time to catch up with each other.
Whilst living abroad is glamorised over social media, it can also be challenging and it’s clear that having to be more selective with your annual leave is a downside. Before moving abroad, I would never take long periods of time off work over Christmas. But I’ve now gone from taking 2 or 3 days off at most, to taking 2 or 3 weeks off work so that I can enjoy the festive season with my friends and family. The extra bank holidays (which I often try to plan my holidays around) and extra annual leave days certainly help but I do try to save one or two days in case I need to go home for an emergency. But what’s most important is that however we chose to spend our annual leave, we enjoy it 🙂