Summer is here and it can be a fantastic time of year for families around the world. With the kids off school, the focus quickly turns towards the annual summer break and the latest must-go holiday destination. But when you live abroad, the concept of holidays changes, often becomes a dilemma and sometimes turns into a… non-holiday! Wherever you live, life as an expat or a newcomer is widely viewed as glamorous and exotic or, as some like to say, as one long holiday. But when it is time to take a real holiday though, you have a number of options available and taking the right decision is not obvious. Whatever you decide – staying in your adopted country, visiting other countries in the region or going home to visit family and friends -, there is every chance you will end up feeling guilty.
Part of the reason for moving abroad is to experience a new way of life, sample a new culture and see new places but for many expats, the daily grind of work make it difficult to explore their new country. That is why the summer holidays are a great time to see more of the country with the kids. The benefits of a stay at home holiday are numerous: you save time, it is cheaper than flights abroad and, most importantly, it could give you and your family a chance to really get to know your new home. There are so many things to see and to do in Luxembourg and the country is so beautiful during the summer! Staycation is even more attractive as time in your new country is limited and you expect to move on in the near future due to your work contract.
According to a lot of studies and expat blogs, travel is a huge factor in expats’ decision to make the move to Europe. Living in Luxembourg is a good opportunity to visit many European countries. Luxembourg Airport has now more than 70 direct flight destinations served by 16 airlines companies, including low-cost airlines. Moreover, the Grand-Duchy is small and bordered by attractive countries such as Belgium, France and Germany that would normally out of reach if you are an expat coming from Asia or America. Brussels is only 225 kilometres from Luxembourg City, Paris 370 kilometres and Berlin 600 kilometres.
The downside of these two options is that you might have to face the silent reproaches of friends and relatives, especially if you haven’t come home for Christmas, and to deal with inevitable guilty feelings. Family members are often envious of the expat lifestyle of their relatives. If you decide to not come home, you may only serve to increase any lingering resentment. On the other hand, for a vast number of expats, going back home to visit family and friends is not exactly a stress-free time and has very little to do with the concept of holiday. Why should you give up your two or three weeks of opportunity to have fun and self-indulge to do the same old things with the same old people in the same old places? In addition, as time goes by, you start to have the odd feeling that you are a visitor and an outsider in your own home country.
Rather than looking at going back home as a task or obligation that is distracting from your other plans, a little bit of planning can turn a trip home into a great break for the whole family. The easiest way to manage visiting relatives is to arrange a single meet up where all relatives end up in the same place at the same time. This saves a lot of travelling hours when it comes to visiting one-by-one and can often make the entire experience much more enjoyable as it will be focused on family time as opposed to singularly focusing on talking about your life as an expat.
You can also take the opportunity to explore your home country through the eyes of a tourist and find places you either have not been to for a while or have never visited. By challenging yourself to see new things in the area you once lived and exploring the local area, you combine sight-seeing with visiting loved ones. It is a win-win situation, for the children in particular. They will enjoy a bit of nostalgia by seeing their grandparents and old friends. And if they have grown up significantly since you last took them back home, you can educate them about their home country – or yours if they were born abroad.
So, what to do: reconnecting with family and friends, throwing yourself into your local community or travelling? In fact, there is no right answer and finding the right family/travel balance will be always difficult. But whether you decide to do this summer, always remember that there will be another summer next year and that Christmas is just a few months away. It is good to take full advantage of your expat location, while at the same time not forgetting your relatives back home.
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