I’ve tried it all: short trips, long trips, try-to-do-nothing trips, do-absolutely-everything trips, 48-hour trips, squeeze-it-in-with-a-business-trip trips. Whew! Visiting home comes in all shapes and sizes, and I can confirm that waking up to a “your flight is ready for check-in” email when you’ve barely got home from the airport is the-absolute-worst trip.
So how do we find the balance between fast enough to distract us from Instagram but slow enough that we leave feeling revitalised with home goodness?
After many trials and tribulations, three really is the magic number! Three weeks (weekends must be included) work just right for me. Here’s a rundown of my experiences. Perhaps you can relate?
In 2019 I attended three UK weddings in six weeks. This was before working from home became the norm, so yes, I flew back and forth, mainly doing 48-hour trips for each wedding. I left on a high of love and happiness, but the tiredness was real. The 48-hour trip is not ideal.
A long weekend
When visiting home for a long weekend, you have two options:
1) See everyone
2) See no-one
Option one means breakfast, lunch and dinner dates every day for four days, leaving me feeling deflated, and keen to get back to a slower pace in Frankfurt. Option two means seeing family only, which leaves my heart warm, but I always feel it’s a shame not to see friends too. This trip works, but if I have a choice, I avoid the-long-weekend trip.
You finally feel properly settled and have met two or three familiar faces, and it’s time to get back on that plane. For me, the-one-week trip is just the-long-weekend trip twice over. Ok, you have more time to balance options one and two, but it’s still go go go until the minute you leave for the airport.
Two weeks are great. There’s enough time to see your loved ones, but you’re still pretty busy. Rather than ‘go go go’, its ‘g o – g o – g o.’ Catch my drift? This is nothing to complain about, but if do-able, there is a better option out there.
The-three-week trip is the sweet spot! You get to see your loved ones several times. You can relax and make a few plans, but leave plenty of time for spontaneity. This works perfectly, especially as I don’t enjoy having a packed calendar. It goes without saying that the-three-week trip is only possible because my employer offers flexible working options, and I usually split the-three-week trip between working from home and annual leave. However, after a wonderful three weeks of friends and family, heading back can be difficult – you enjoy it so much that you don’t want it to stop. But I say it’s always best to look forward to coming back rather than look forward to leaving.
So what works best for you? I love visting home, but there have been times where I burn the candle at both ends. The-three-week trip means avoiding this. I’ve not done a longer trip back home to London because I have my life in Frankfurt that I continue to enjoy, and I don’t intend to live between both cities. The-three-week trip means I don’t transition out of holiday mode, but can still take socialising at a leisurely pace. Because the-do-absolutely-everything trip is just not the one!