Empowering the Freelance Economy

How can digital nomads and expat freelancers make the most of the holidays?

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It is estimated that there are around 66.2 million expats worldwide, which is expected to continue to rise. As we approach the festive period, it can be a difficult time for expats to celebrate with some being able to return home and others having to remain where they are – sometimes in places that may not celebrate the holidays at all.

The experts at insurer William Russell have given their 6 top tips for expats over the Christmas period to help ease their difficulties, whether they are travelling home or are unfortunately unable to.

For those able to travel home, remember to:

1. Check over your travel documents 

Travelling is stressful in itself, but travelling over Christmas can be even harder for some. To ease the potential panic at the airport, try to have all of your travel documents ready in one place for you to access, and make sure it’s all in date! This includes your passport, hotel bookings (if you have it) and flight tickets.

2. Save space for gifts in your luggage

If you’re travelling home for Christmas, then you’ll need space in your suitcase for all the presents you’re bringing back for family and friends! To avoid delays at the airport, make sure you’ve got the right weight for your suitcases, or buy more if you don’t. The last thing you want to do is have to leave gifts behind at the airport.

3. Allow enough time to visit your friends and family 

If you haven’t visited home in a while then there might be a lot of friends and family to visit which can be overwhelming. Remember to plan who you’re meeting and where so you’re not pulled back and forth on your whole trip. If it helps, arrange to meet in groups so you aren’t spending the whole time going out and draining your social battery – remember it’s a Christmas ‘break’, too.

There are some things you can do to help you feel more comfortable over the festive season as, after all, how Christmas works out for you is all about spirit and attitude. Too many people put far too much pressure on themselves for Christmas.

It could be that until now, you’ve been organising a Christmas that doesn’t fit in with your life, particularly based on your current reality of living overseas in a global pandemic. 

Michael Lewars, Director at William Russell

For those unable to travel home, you can:

4. Spend the day with other expats 

If you’re an expat there will no doubt be many other expatriates around you who may also be feeling a little lonely at the prospect of spending Christmas day alone, so why not organise to spend it together? This is a great way to keep busy on the day and even make new friends if you ask your friends to invite other expats they know to come along to join the fun.

5. Do things that remind you of home 

While it’s always a good idea to immerse yourself in local culture, there is nothing wrong with continuing your Christmas traditions in a new country. Whether it’s going on a Christmas day walk or cooking Christmas dinner, continue your celebrations to make you feel more at home. Be flexible though and don’t assume you will simply be able to pop out and get everything you want. 

And don’t forget to call or video call with your friends and family on the big day, it will help you feel more connected with what’s going on at home.

This could be your chance to rip up the rule book and do something completely different

Michael Lewars, Director at William Russell

6. Peace of mind with international health insurance  

William Russell’s data shows that expatriates are more at risk of experiencing mental health disorders than people living in their home countries. Another reason expats seek mental health support is as a consequence of other episodes as a result of other medical conditions. 

“Fortunately, many international health insurance policies, including ours, feature mental health cover. This is especially important over the Christmas period when you may be away from your family and friends back home, “says Michael Lewars, Director at William Russell.

“Whether it’s your first Christmas away from home or you have been doing it for years, the holiday period can be an especially tough time for expats,” he says.

“Usually, treating this annual trip as a way to catch up with all you’ve missed whilst being away is a chance to assuage the guilt you feel for choosing to live abroad. However, for those who are unable to travel home, it can be difficult. 

“There are some things you can do to help you feel more comfortable over the festive season as, after all, how Christmas works out for you is all about spirit and attitude. Too many people put far too much pressure on themselves for Christmas. It could be that until now, you’ve been organising a Christmas that doesn’t fit in with your life, particularly based on your current reality of living overseas in a global pandemic. 

“This could be your chance to rip up the rule book and do something completely different,” says Lewars.

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