The High Holiday Cost Of Being An Expat

 

Living Christmas Tree, Christmas In England, Cornish Christmas

Christmas In Cornwall 2009

Christmas, birthdays, and trips home … when you chose to live in another country, you need to be prepared to spend more money especially when gift giving. I love to shop and make or bake gifts for friends and family back home, but after this Christmas I may need to reconsider¬†my regular way of doing things.

When the cost of mailing your packages adds another $45 to the overall gift cost, it may be time to let Amazon do the work. For instance, I shopped and wrapped the contents of three small packages to send home to the US  yesterday and while there was more value in the boxes than the cost of shipping, after spending so much to mail them I decided that gifts from the UK will need to fly with me from now on rather than traveling by Royal Mail.

Which brings me to flying … I really miss seeing my family especially during the holidays, but it’s a terrible time to fly and costs associated with a trip home include air travel, rental cars, and overnight stays in London. All of this makes a traveling to Atlanta comparable to a beach holiday in Spain. Thankfully, I stay with family and friends both of whom tend to feed me to extremes so I usually spend little for my eating and sleeping arrangements once I’m in Atlanta.

My travel budget also feels the strain of using my checked baggage as an opportunity to bring back my favorite foodstuffs that I can’t get in the UK. Things I’ve mentioned before such as peanut butter, cornmeal, grits, and Nestle’s Chocolate chips. It’s no wonder I need a trolley as they call them here to get my luggage through customs when I arrive.

Fuzzy Video Shot of Me Arriving At Gatwick Airport In 2009

(I never have this much anymore and usually limit myself to one checked bag and two carry on pieces)

Let me add that thanks to a part-time job, I feel very fortunate enjoy a relatively low stress life with the man I love while still having enough creative energy and time to write and a bit of money I can call my own to help with travel and bills related to my house in Atlanta.

So while this moan about money may seem like a real rant, I’m trying to see the mailing cost issues as just an opportunity to get a bit more creative with gift giving without giving it up.

Tips would be appreciated if you’d like to share how you give to family and friends who live far away.