When you’re living abroad, it is inevitable that you’re going to have friends and family visit you at some point or another. While some places are easy to show to people coming for just a week or so (aka tourism friendly), other cities are great to live in but doesn’t necessarily have obvious highlights for those there for just a short period of time.
If you move around a lot, as many digital nomads do, it is likely that some places will be more enticing to those back home. Whether it be the weather or a cheap flight you may be playing tour guide in some places a few times, and none in others. While living in Korea, my sister came and visited, though to also work there short-term. As she was there for a few months, there was less of a pressure to have fun-packed activities day-in and day out. Since I moved to Madrid, I’ve had a few friends and family visit, each for about a week at a time. While I found that Asia spoiled me for Europe in some ways, many of my friends back home have more interest in this side of world. I’m sure the sunny weather here, when it was freezing back home, didn’t hurt either.
I didn’t want to be doing the exact same activities with my friends and family week in and week out, as that would get incredibly boring and expensive, but I wanted to show each of them around and ensure they had fun. Regardless of where you live and who is is coming to visit, here are the types of things expats can do when friends and family visit.
If it’s over the Christmas holidays when friends and family visit, there is sure to be some kind of holiday event happening where you live. Even if the country you’re living in doesn’t celebrate the same holidays as where you’re from, during that time of year something will be on. It’s always fun to see how other cultures celebrate the events you know, and to learn about new ones.
This is true for any kind of holidays or events that only happen a certain time of year, or activities that are truly seasonal like going skiing or attending a festival. These may also be country specific, like Running of the Bulls in Spain or culturally specific, like the Holi Festival.
Some more ideas: Carnival Season, Parades, Music Festivals, Holi, Lantern Festivals, Winter/Ice Festivals.
This will depend on the interests of the friends that visit you, but showing the culture of where you’re living will give both your friends and yourself an opportunity to learn more about your new home. Everything you do will be a new(ish) cultural experience, but I mean something to understand the whys, or the history of it. This doesn’t have to mean walking around museums day after day, but if that’s what you’re into, by all means – go for it! Thankfully, most major museums have exhibitions that change so if you don’t have many museum options where you live you won’t have to keep looking at the same things.
You could also take a walking tour of the city and take in the architecture, visit a palace or cathedral, a plaza, or old ruins.
For me, food is one of the biggest reasons to travel. Some of my bucket list items included things like “Try Sushi in Japan” and for those who plan to visit my homeland of Canada, I sure hope trying poutine is on the list. Food is one of the most integral part of culture. Be it what, when, or how people from that place eat, it all comes together for something new, and hopefully, delicious.
A Night to Remember
While I don’t expect you to have the same kind of night out with friends from college as you do when your mom visits, but there is always some kind of “night out” you can experience. When my friends visited me in Madrid, we checked out a variety of pubs and clubs. For my mom and sister, we took in a Flamenco show. When I was travelling in South East Asia, I was mesmerized by the fire shows at night on the beaches Koh Tao. No matter what it is, ensure a “remember when…” moment.
What are your must-dos when friends and family visit you?
Let me know in the comments below!