Hosting While Living Abroad : Visitors From Your Other World

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and the draft folder fatter.

This post is about hosting friends abroad, I promise. But first a little about my absence around here lately. It has been for multiple reasons, but it can be summed up by saying that one has to have live in order to blog. Otherwise, what does one have to blog about? It’s a philosophy you’ll hear me refer to a lot, but of course neeeever as an excuse for not posting. 😉

As much as I would like to keep up the posting pace I started with, I may be slacking even more in the next few weeks. My attention will be pulled away by real life visitors from the states, and we will be having lots of adventures, so that should mean loads of juicy travel bits and grams. So if you’re one of those channel surfers who surfs ’til they find something good, make sure you get back over here so you don’t miss the good stuff. Silence and inactivity signals the “calm before excessive posting”.

Wherever you are, be all there,” said the missionary Jim Elliot, “and then blog about it.

Okay, I admit I added that last part. But the entire thought fits really well with the real topic of this post, especially my first hosting goal (See Hosting Goals: NUMMER EINS).

“Hosting friends abroad” is also known as “how to heal the wounds of abandonment”.

One of the lame things about being the friend of an expat, is how much we expats miss out on your life and how much you miss out on ours. Yeah. They should make a support group called ‘Friends of Expats’ for all those friends and family with abandonment issues thanks to people like me.

But one of the COOLEST things about having a friend who is an expat, is having a free bed and an inexperienced, but very enthusiastic tour guide in a foreign country. That’s cool, am I right?

As I mentioned, in just a short three weeks from now, visitors are arriving from the states. Several girlfriends + one of their babies whom I’ve never had the privilege of meeting, will be coming to visit and explore. We’re so excited to host them and excited to show them around here, as well as travel with them to Rome . (*smothered squeal* Yes, it’s our first time to go to Rome!!!)

These are some of my hosting goals for before and while they are here. They’re basic, but you may find them useful.

Hosting Goals: NUMMER EINS

No one’s saying you have to, but for goodness’ sake, even if you do nothing else, this is one thing you should do. Your number one goal should be just to enjoy the moment. If living abroad has taught you anything, I hope it’s taught you how precious those times with loved ones really are. You can’t ever make up for the memories you may feel you’ve lost out on, but you can make a lot of sweet memories which are extra special because you know the importance now of being in the moment. In the end it’s better for everyone. Find a way to truly appreciate this time together rather than focusing on being the perfect hostess.  Sorry gals, but welcome to our Bed and make-your-own Breakfast. 😉

Hosting Goals: Prepare well, write lists!

I’m not the world’s worst, but I’m not that great at planning ahead. I am trying to do a better job of it this time. I’m thinking through what the best and most efficient way is to feed everyone, if we have enough pillows, etc… It helps that I know these friends are flexible and go-with-the-flow kinda people. But since “enjoying the moment”, often means for me that I get deep into conversation, it’s so much better to have thought through this stuff beforehand. In fact, I predict from experience that the more excited I am that they’re here, the worse my absentmindedness will get. Lists and a meal plan will be to everyone’s very great advantage.

Oh, and just as a free tip: one thing I’m really enjoying planning right now are meals incorporating things which are native to the area. (In other words, CHEESE and more cheese). You may or may not have grown accustomed to the yumminess, but your guests will likely greatly appreciate this new “cultural experience”. Use them as an excuse to buy all your favorite treats. That’s my plan anyway. 😉

Hosting Goals: Be a good tour guide and don’t forget the tip jar.

That’s a joke. NEVER accept tips from your visitors. Pssssh don’t be like that, oh my gosh! But what you should be, is honest. Everyone has a different concept of “budget traveling”, but it’s really best to clearly define what that means for everyone involved so that visits don’t become a financial burden on you or them. I am SO thankful that the communication has been open about finances between us and the friends who are coming (and those who’ve already visited in the past). We live in Switzerland after all, with no car. And gettin’ around ain’t cheap y’all. I literally used to fight the urge to want to pay for our guests’ food and travel while they were staying with us. Partly because I wanted to shield their eyes and spare their pocket books from how expensive everything is here, and partly because it somehow felt right as hostess. That obviously isn’t possible for us to do, (yeah that and seriously, no one expects that!) So the best thing we/you can do, is make sure your friends are informed ahead of time. They need to know roughly what things cost, and how much you can afford or not afford to travel with them. (We encourage our guests, especially Americans who’ve paid to travel across the ocean, to travel as much as possible while visiting us here, even if we don’t always go with them!)

So in a nutshell? Know your guests’ traveling style, budget, and traveling goals. Do they want to see as much as humanly possible, or relax and see whatever they see while relaxing?

Hosting Goals: Know your limitations.

I hesitate to mention this because it partially repeats from the last goal, but it’s really important. If you don’t have the space or energy for hosting people over night in your home, it’s important that you’re honest about that so that no one ends up walking on thin ice around a very stressed version of you. Hosting should be fun, and it is not limited to giving people a bed. Find a combination that works for everyone. Offer to show people around or host meals if having people over night with one bathroom is just too much. We’re young and fairly flexible, and I definitely mean it when I say our door is open. But I also promise to be honest with the guests if the timing just isn’t right for us–That’s for their sake as much as mine! As it is, our guests need to be flexible to what we can offer. Their beds won’t be a four star quality and privacy may not even be a thing, other than taking turns in our tiny bathroom. For us that sounds like a blast, but both parties should know its okay to admit if that’s not their definition of “accommodation”.

We’re ready and waiting for you!

There may be nothing Ber and I enjoy more, than sharing our little life here with our friends and family from around the world. We know some visitors are eager to see Europe and we happen to be the cherry on top. Or for some, Europe is the cherry. Either way is fine because we’re honored to be that cherry too! 😀

Friends’ visits are like therapy which lasts me a long long time after they’ve returned home. I love seeing my daily surroundings through a new set of eyes. It truly helps me appreciate it all over again. So, just let us know when you’ll be on your way, and I’ll start making that meal plan with all my favorite–your future favorite–foods.

Meanwhile, what is your best hospitality trick or tip? We have so much more to learn on this front and it’s something we would love to get better and better at. Please do share!

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