Living abroad is a wonderful thing. You might have learnt a new language, made new friends, started a whole new life in the sunshine. One thing you might not have considered before making the move is the amount of time you could spend travelling back and forth between your new and England. Many expats will still spend a month or two of the year back in the UK for business, or more likely pleasure, catching up with friends and family. It's these medium length trips that can be tricky to pack for and can turn a happy event to see loved ones into an bit of an unnecessary headache. This article will offer you some tips and tricks that you can use to keep travelling back and forth between your home and your ‘other home’ as simple and stress-free as possible. Many people move abroad for a less stressful life, after all.
Pack the bare essentials
This might seem like an obvious one but travelling with excessive luggage is always awkward and thoroughly unenjoyable. Think about how long you are going for, and what you are going to be doing when you get back to the UK. Chances are you won't need some of the items you're busy stuffing into your suitcase. This will get easier after living abroad for a while, you'll get to know what you'll actually need and won't be tempted to take unnecessary items with you.
There are a few things you can immediately cross off your ‘to pack’ list. Whilst the UK might have once been your home all year round, packing to come back can feel like you are going to a foreign country and it's natural to pack like you are going abroad (which you are, technically). First off empty your toiletry bag back into the bathroom. If you are travelling directly to see family, chances are the only thing you need to pack is a toothbrush, so leave any shower gels and shampoos back at your ranch. It is unlikely that your hosts will begrudge you a share of their toothpaste, and if the aren't prepared for that, these are the sort of things you can easily buy when you get here.
Next up is clothes. Again, it can be easy to pack like you are going on holiday, with an outfit (or two) for every day you are staying away. But if you are visiting for more than a week or two that is an awful lot of clothes. If you are staying with family, then make use of their washing machine to cut down on how many clothes you need to pack.
Remember, the lighter you pack, the more room you will have in your suitcase to bring back some of the home comforts you can’t get your hands on in your new country. No-one likes moving abroad without Marmite.
Keep a few things in the UK
If you take regular trips back to the UK, or even one long annual one, it is a good idea to talk nicely to friends or family about the possibility of leaving one or two things at their house all year round. If you have an understanding family member with a little extra room, then you might be able to leave a mini wardrobe of clothes stashed under their spare bed which will mean you can really travel light when you come back to visit, especially useful for toiletries also, it will only take up a little room in a relative's house and it also means you don't have to worry about checking liquids when you fly.
If your friends and family are tighter on space (wanting more space for your rent money is one of the reasons to move abroad in the first place after all!), then consider asking to leave one or two items that you would only need in the UK with them. If the south of Spain is your home for ten months of the year, then chances are you will only need a winter coat when you come back to visit.
Make a checklist or three
Everybody has experienced that sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach halfway through the day where you suddenly worry that you didn’t lock the door, turn the cooker off or close that window. Worries like these can really nag at you on a normal day, and you certainly don’t want to be worried about your home when you are in another country for a month or two.
Going back to the UK means that you’re probably leaving your main home unattended for an extended period of time, so be sure to close it up thoroughly before you leave. Write a list of everything you need to do before you go, empty the fridge, lock all the windows etc. and tick it off as you go so you know for sure you haven’t forgotten to do anything important. For extra peace of mind, you could ask a close neighbour to keep an eye on your property just in case.
Creating a list of what you need to take with you back to the UK is also a good way to prepare. Not only will a list make it easier to pack, but you can look back on what you could have done without on your trip and cross it off for next year, streamlining the packing process.
Turn the trip into a mini holiday
Taking the same flight from the same airport year on year can become tiresome. Shaking things up might not make your journey back to see family any easier, but it could certainly make it more enjoyable. Why not make an event of your annual trip back by choosing a destination in your new country that you haven’t explored yet to spend a few days before hopping on a plane back to England, or similarly, fly back to a different destination in the UK and be a tourist in your homeland for a few days.
Even changing the method of travel can shake up an annual routine, for instance, if you live in France, instead of flying back, why not plan a road trip through some picturesque regions before taking the ferry to Dover?
Following these tips to get you started, and then learn your own tips as you get used to travelling back and forth to the UK. Ultimately its all about enjoying your visit back home, so don’t let the minutia of travel bog you down. Just pack light and let the British weather remind you why you left in the first place!
If you’re thinking about living abroad and would like some help with planning your move, be sure to download our moving abroad checklist.