Expatriates leave a great deal behind when they move to another country such as their family, friends and familiar way of life. But once they move, how often should they return home for a visit? Many people are undecided about this issue and have varying opinions on how often expatriates should return home.
Many expatriates would gladly return to their home country every few months to see their family and friends. But this is not always possible due to financial reasons. Depending on where the expatriate is from, flights to their home country can be very expensive, particularly during the high season. This can make it impractical to go home for a visit 3 or 4 times a year.
Expatriates need to also consider their work related responsibilities before they decide when and how often they should return home for a visit. Many American based companies do not offer employees as much time off as other parts of the world, which will make it difficult to spend as much time away as they would like, unless they take unpaid leave to cover their time off.
When an expatriate first moves to America, their first thought will not necessarily be of the new opportunities and sights and smells before them. They will look to what they have left behind and this can make settling in very problematic. Rather than make plans to settle and plan for the future, they may start planning their first trip back before their suitcase is even unpacked! The first year can be the hardest in any expatriate’s life. To go back for a visit during that transition time can really set the settling in process back rather than help it to move forward. The surroundings will still seem foreign and new and the culture will not make much sense.
There is no “right” or “wrong” answer to the issue of how often expatriates should go home for a visit. The answer really depends on an individual’s personal circumstances. Some can manage a trip back home once a year. Others wait longer and go every few years. But it is still important for expatriates to set aside the time to go home and visit their family, friends and to re-connect with their culture. It can help to draw them closer to their family and friends, rather than drift apart after long years of separation and it can also help to alleviate feelings of homesickness that is part and parcel of expatriate life.