English Speaking Therapists in Barcelona

The Whirlwind of Returning Home for the Holidays: Navigating Family, Food, and Fun

The Whirlwind of Returning Home for the Holidays: Navigating Family, Food, and Fun

Ah, the holiday season! That magical time of year when you leave behind your life in Barcelona and head back to your country of origin. It’s a whirlwind of reunions, nostalgia, and the sweet (and sometimes overwhelming) chaos of trying to see everyone and do everything in a short amount of time.

From catching up with friends and family to indulging in your favourite foods, stocking up on must-have products, and navigating reverse culture shock, it’s a wild ride. Here’s an amusing yet practical guide to surviving and thriving during your holiday homecoming.

1. The Whirlwind of Reunions

As soon as you land, the clock starts ticking. Everyone wants a piece of you, and you’re juggling multiple calendars like a seasoned event planner. Here’s how to handle the frenzy:

  • Prioritise Visits: Create a list of the must-see people. Start with immediate family, then close friends, and finally, those you can catch up with on social media.
  • Group Gatherings: To save time and sanity, organise group gatherings. Host a small party or meet everyone at your favourite pub. This way, you can see many people at once and avoid the endless coffee dates.
  • Set Limits: It’s okay to say no. You’re not a superhero (or maybe you are, but even superheroes need rest). Politely decline or suggest meeting next time if you’re overwhelmed.

2. The Culinary Adventure

One of the best parts about going home is indulging in your favourite foods. From mum’s cooking to your beloved local restaurant, it’s time for a culinary adventure.

  • Make a Foodie List: Jot down all the foods you’ve been dreaming about. Prioritise dishes you can’t find or replicate in Barcelona.
  • Balance Indulgence and Moderation: It’s tempting to eat everything in sight, but remember to balance indulgence with moderation. Enjoy your favourites but avoid the post-holiday food coma.
  • Share the Experience: Invite friends or family to join you on your foodie quest. It’s a great way to bond and relive memories.

3. Cultural Refuelling

Being an expatriate means you sometimes miss the cultural nuances of your home country. The holidays are a perfect time to refuel.

  • Attend Local Events: Check out local holiday markets, festivals, or concerts. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds you’ve missed.
  • Reconnect with Traditions: Participate in family traditions or start new ones. 
  • Capture Memories: Take lots of photos and videos. Not only will you cherish these memories, but they’ll also be a comforting reminder when you’re back in Barcelona.

4. Stocking Up on Essentials

Before heading back to Barcelona, it’s time to stock up on products you can’t live without. This includes sauces, cosmetics, clothes, and any other staples you miss from home.

  • Make a Shopping List: Plan ahead and make a list of items you want to bring back. Think about what’s hard to find in Spain or what you particularly love from home.
  • Consider Luggage Space: Remember to leave room in your luggage. Prioritise smaller, lightweight items to avoid excess baggage fees.
  • Think Long-Term: Stock up on items that have a long shelf life. Sauces, spices, cosmetics, and clothes are good choices. Avoid anything perishable or overly bulky.

5. Planning Your Holiday to Recover from Your Holiday

Let’s face it: visiting home can be exhausting. Between the social obligations, travel, and emotional rollercoaster, you’ll need a holiday to recover from your holiday.

  • Schedule Downtime: Plan some downtime during your trip home. Take a day or two to relax and recharge. Consider it a mini-vacation within your vacation.
  • Plan a Relaxing Return: Give yourself a few days to settle back into your routine in Barcelona. Avoid jumping straight back into work or a busy schedule.
  • Book a Spa Day: Treat yourself to a spa day or a relaxing activity when you get back. It’s a great way to unwind and ease the transition.

6. Tips for Navigating a Trip Home

Navigating a trip home can be challenging, but with some careful planning and self-care, you can make it a smoother experience.

  • Good Communication: Keep in touch with family and friends before your trip. Let them know your plans and availability. Clear communication helps manage expectations and prevents last-minute surprises.
  • Self-Care: Prioritise self-care during your trip. Get enough sleep, eat well, and make time for exercise. A healthy body and mind will help you handle the whirlwind of activities.
  • Making Space: Ensure you have personal space. Whether it’s a quiet corner at your parents’ house or a solo walk in the park, find moments to be alone and recharge.
  • Setting Limits: Set limits on your time and energy. It’s okay to decline invitations or leave events early if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

7. Managing Reverse Culture Shock and Emotional Upheaval

Returning to your home country can bring about reverse culture shock and emotional upheaval. Here’s how to manage it:

  • Acknowledge Your Feelings: It’s normal to feel a mix of emotions. Acknowledge your feelings and give yourself permission to experience them.
  • Stay Connected to Barcelona: Stay connected to your life in Barcelona. Chat with friends, keep up with local news, and remind yourself of the reasons you love living there.
  • Reflect on Your Experience: Take time to reflect on your trip. What did you enjoy? What was challenging? This reflection can help you process your feelings and prepare for your return.
  • Seek Support: If you’re struggling with reverse culture shock or emotional upheaval, seek support. Talk to friends, family, or a therapist. Sometimes, an outside perspective can provide valuable insight.

8. Embracing the Return to Barcelona

Returning to Barcelona can be both a relief and a challenge. Here’s how to embrace the transition:

  • Focus on the Positive: Focus on the positive aspects of your life in Barcelona. Revisit your favourite spots, reconnect with friends, and indulge in the local culture.
  • Create a Routine: Establish a routine to help you settle back in. Structure and familiarity can ease the transition.
  • Plan Future Trips: Plan your next visit home or invite friends and family to visit you in Barcelona. Having something to look forward to can ease the sting of goodbyes.
  • Embrace New Opportunities: Embrace the opportunities that come with living abroad. Continue exploring, learning, and growing in your host country.


Returning to your country of origin for the holidays is a whirlwind of emotions, activities, and experiences. From the joy of reunions to the challenges of navigating reverse culture shock, it’s a journey that requires careful planning, clear communication, and a healthy dose of humour. By prioritising self-care, setting limits, and embracing both the highs and lows, you can make the most of your holiday homecoming and return to Barcelona refreshed and ready for the next chapter.

Need Help?

If you find the holiday season overwhelming or need support navigating the emotional ups and downs of returning home, Therapy in Barcelona is here to help.

Our experienced therapists specialise in communication skills, self-care strategies, and managing reverse culture shock or grief.

Through personalised therapy sessions, we can help you develop the tools you need to thrive during the holidays and beyond.

Don’t let the stress of holidays get you down.

Contact Therapy in Barcelona today to schedule a session and start building the resilience you need for a balanced and fulfilling life as an expatriate. We’re here to support you every step of the way.


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