Tuesday 22 April 2014

Is Expat Life Glamorous?

The next person who tells me that expat travel sounds glam will be beaten to death with a selection of plane/train/coach/bus/parking tickets.

I have an 8 hour flight, 2 hour stop over and another 7 hour flight to reach the UK, I'm then required to catch a train or a coach after 20+ hours of flying and transit, get my mobile working, call everyone to say I've arrived safely and arrive at my 1st destination.

Having arrived in the UK 2 weeks ago I started the UK tour by saying Hello to everyone. I know the next time I see them again will be to say Goodbye before I return to South Africa and not see them again for 6 months. I started my tour from Manchester to Leeds on the train, then a coach and a bus to Gloucester, lifts from friends to Monmouth, emergency dash back to Leeds as son was in hospital, Bath to see family and stay with friends and the return trip starts on Thursday, before flying home on May 1st.

Visiting your home country as an expat is not a holiday, it's actually rather stressful, trying to fit everyone in, the cost, living out of a suitcase, travel, sorting out bills, post etc.

Travel as an expat isn’t glam, in fact it’s not an awful lot of fun, it’s hard to say goodbye all the time, it’s hard for the people I say goodbye to also.

Lots of expats advise that you rent a house in the UK and plan for everyone to visit you. It’s good advice but there are 2 issues here. 3 weeks in the UK over Christmas is £1000.00 per week and at most other times it is £450.00 per week. You need to rent a house big enough so your children/family/friends can stay over when they come to visit you, because lets be honest….expats don’t tend to have simple lives and you can guarantee family is spread far and wide.

So if you can afford the above the next issue is getting times and dates to get people together. I’ve lost track of the number of people that would love to see me as long as I travel to them on the date and at the time they stipulate and of course sort out my own accommodation. Even when I’ve been in the area and knocked on the door it’s been obviously you’ve come at the wrong time, so I just don’t bother with a lot of people any more.


  1. I've been surprised (and a little hurt) by friends and even family who seem to think that it's up to us to make the trips all over the UK to see them. There have been occasions when I've felt like saying "we've flown thousands of miles to get here, could you just drive a couple of hours?" That's just a one or two people, though. Most are flexible and accommodating.

    1. in some cases it hasn't even involved them driving to us, I've been in the area and been told its not really that convenient