When I landed back at O’Hare after near-on two months in Europe, my boyfriend was waiting in the arrivals area to pick me up. However, when I came out through customs, he was looking in the other direction, and I thought it would be funny / sweet to run up and jump on him. Of course, when me and my fifty-pound (OK, maybe a slight exaggeration) pack surprised him by pouncing at him from the side, all that resulted was him shouting in shock in the middle of a crowd and both of us almost falling over and taking a couple of strangers out with us. So, while we were glad to see each other again, it was not the most graceful of homecomings.
Want to do a little better than that? Here are a few tips.
Step 1: Hugs!
OK, I had one thing right. While the home-comer was away, it’s pretty likely that you’ll have stayed in touch by phone, email, something. But you weren’t actually able to touch them. Depending on the nature of the person you’re greeting, there may be some things that have to be left until you’re back at home, but you can and should give them a big old hug. It’ll make everybody happy.
Step 2: Food!
Travel is hungry business. Airplane food is particularly awful, so if the person has just gotten off a long flight, it would be an incredible kindness to greet them with some food. Important: Choose something that’s different from what they’ve been eating on their trip. If they were in Italy, for example, don’t order a pizza. They’re burned out on that and dying for some pad see ew.
You can do this for yourself, as well, if you’re coming home on your own–before you leave, make sure you’ve got some nonperishable foods stocked up so you can eat immediately upon your return without having to shop or order out. I’m not usually a fan of frozen/canned/whatnot things, but depending on how long you’re gone, these convenience foods are your friends. A still-sealed bag of chips and a carton of ice cream, even, go a long way. (The nonperishable aspect is key. The last thing you want to come home to is some green, furry stirfry.)
Step 3: Sleep!
Travel is also exhausting business. Depending on the time of day they’re coming back or how far they’re coming from, they’re probably really tired and don’t want to do much beyond go home, drop their bags, and either actually go to sleep or just lay around and not move for a little while. So let them do that. Don’t expect to hear all the stories or see the photos or get your present (I’m sure they brought you a present) right away. Let them rest, relax, decompress. Tomorrow you can get to everything else.
Caveat: If they’re jetlagged in the direction of being wide awake when they should be asleep, it’s a bonus-nice thing if you can stay up with them for a little bit. Traveling can sometimes be lonely, and to come home to a dark and asleep house when you’re feeling awake and antsy isn’t going to make you feel welcome.
That’s really it. I mean, this isn’t rocket science. You don’t actually need an article on the Internet to explain it to you. Just be thoughtful and take care of the person who’s coming home to you. After all, they were nice enough to come home. Maybe next time they’ll take you with them.