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7 Tips on Surviving Home Leave

Smiling boy holding a baseball tball batIt’s almost that time again: the start of the annual expat migration back home. Some of you will be going home to stay… but we’ll talk about that another day. Today I’d like to focus on home leave instead.

Home leave is a divisive topic in the expat community. Some people love going back home; others hate it. My best friend Deb lived in Belfast for seven years, and relished the intensity of her visits back to Toronto. “I packed in everything I could,” she says. “Everybody wants to see you, and it’s vibrant and exciting, because you’re cramming all the visiting and running around into three weeks. I never felt like it was too much.”

Another friend, Alyson, simply can’t relate. She confesses to being overwhelmed by her hectic home leave routine, which involves “sixteen flights in three weeks (most in the US), sleeping on relatives’ and friends’ couches, [and] getting the kids over jet lag twice (Asia to US, then East to West coast).” Organizing each year’s expedition is a Herculean task she would rather avoid.

Avoiding home leave disaster is all in the planning. Here are four do’s and three don’ts for ensuring a more satisfying and relaxing trip back home:

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