Returning home after living abroad in the middle of a pandemic

International relocation is never easy. Once you consider all the aspects you have to take care of, and all the issues you’ll have to face, you’ll soon see that it is one of the most complicated projects a person can undertake. Now, add to that the complexity of moving during a pandemic, and you will soon see why most moving companies don’t recommend dealing with it now. But, if you are truly keen on returning home after living abroad in the middle of a pandemic, there is a way that you can tackle it. And to help you make this a bit easier, we are going to go through the major points.

Returning home during the coronavirus pandemic

The important thing to understand about returning home during the coronavirus pandemic is that you need to plan carefully. While some optimists hoped that all would blow over in a month or two, we are closing on one year of the pandemic. During this time, travel is limited, to say the least. Some countries allow their citizens to come back home, while others outright ban travel. And whatever the current situation is in your country, it can suddenly change. After all, early in 2020, nobody thought that COVID-19 was anything serious. So, what we strongly recommend is that you plan carefully before you move.

Is it absolutely necessary to travel?

Once you do a bit of research, you will see that shipping your items to your home country can be much easier than completely moving there. If you have friends or relatives that can handle your items, you should consider finding a shipping company and arrange for their pickup. The biggest reason why countries either discourage or outright ban travel is that COVID-19 is highly contagious. Therefore, moving back home is much more dangerous than simply shipping your items. Our advice is to carefully consider whether traveling is the right decision.

How to prepare for the journey back home

If it is vital that you return home, along with your items, you need to prepare properly. First, we suggest that you go over the legal documentation required for returning home after living abroad. The last thing you need is to get stuck in an airport. So, make sure that you are actually able to come back home before you set out on your journey.

If you can relocate back home, you need to find a reliable company that can help you move anywhere. We would like to remind you again that international moving is arguably one of the most difficult types of relocation. Therefore, you need someone capable and reliable to help you out.

Looking for movers

The best place to start looking for movers is online. See which local moving companies offer international moving services and see which ones have the best ratings. Most companies offer free online estimates, but these should be taken with a grain of salt. At best, they will give you an idea of what your move will cost. But, the actual costs will be much more difficult to calculate, which is why they may differ substantially.

Keep in mind that not all moving companies can successfully deal with an international move, so ensure that the movers you hire have dealt with relocations similar to yours. Also, keep in mind that your movers need to work within the constraints that both your current and your home country have put in place. Therefore, your relocation might be much more complicated than you originally envisioned.

Safety measures

When returning home after living abroad in the middle of a pandemic, your primary concern should be staying safe. Luckily, doing so with COVID-19 is pretty straightforward. There are only a couple of aspects that you need to adhere to at all times:

  • Wash your hands as often as possible.
  • Keep your hands away from your face.
  • Wear a mask when spending time with strangers indoors.
  • Practice social distancing as much as possible.

Do this, and you greatly increase your chances of staying safe and not contracting the virus. Now, if you are a part of any high-risk groups for COVID-19, such as those with respiratory problems, you shouldn’t even consider moving. If you are considered at risk, the country you are currently in probably won’t allow you to move in the first place.


When it comes to your items, you only need to ensure that they are properly packed. In order to do this, there are two routes you can take. You can either choose to pack by yourself, which means both getting the necessary packing supplies and following a packing guide. Or, you can hire full-service movers and let them do the packing for you. If time is of the essence, which is probably the case since you need to move now, your best bet is to go with hiring professionals. That way, you will only have to bring essential travel items with you. By doing so, you will avoid rookie packing mistakes, and you will give yourself more time to prepare for your move.

What is returning home after living abroad going to be like

Once you come back home, you will probably have to spend some time in quarantine to ensure that you are free from COVID-19. The length and the necessity of quarantine will depend on the measures instated by your home country, so make sure to study up on them to know what awaits you. Once you move in, you will probably have to wait a while until you can change your legal documents. And, you probably won’t be able to see your relatives and friends for some time. So sit tight, and try to enjoy the fact that you are home.


35 thoughts on “Returning home after living abroad in the middle of a pandemic

  1. Katrina Rhea Durana April 15, 2020 / 8:48 pm

    Good points to consider in this article. This will be useful to me as I will be moving as soon as I will be allowed to.

  2. Such good points! Moving back can be a hassle anyway, let alone when there’s a pandemic raging around. What has surprised me is how many people postponed going home and stayed for too long, only to get stuck wherever they were, cursing the fact that the local hospitals weren’t up to scratch. Don’t people really think ahead at all, is what I’ve been asking while watching news of all the stranded people. Oh well, I “escaped” the moment I heard they were planning to close the borders and it was the right decision 🙂

    • markstraveljournal April 16, 2020 / 10:37 am

      Thanks for the comments, I agree with you 100%. Glad to know that you escaped and are staying safe,

  3. nortoncharity April 16, 2020 / 11:40 am

    This is such a great and informative post. I could not imagine trying to move back after living abroad during a pandemic. Talk about stressful! But your post made it seem easy and manageable! I am sure someone will definitely appreciate this if they are currently trying to move!

  4. aspoonfulpofvanilla April 17, 2020 / 6:21 pm

    This post is so informative. I had never thought about the people who were moving home during a pandemic I imagine without the proper planning it would be quite stressful, your post is full of great tips to make it more manageable!

  5. itsjustjessie12 April 20, 2020 / 8:18 am

    This is a really insightful post with great tips and information, I was looking to relocate in June but we’ve had to delay it but I’m definitely going to take your points into consideration!

    • markstraveljournal April 20, 2020 / 8:37 am

      Thanks, hope it helps and best of luck in relocating when the time comes

  6. piperhill April 20, 2020 / 8:44 am

    Some great points here to consider. My partner and I had to move at the start of the pandemic but we didn’t need to move far. Even that was stressful. I feel for anyone having to make the move across the world during all of this. To be honest, the thought had crossed my mind about those doing this but reading through the measures you’ve sited it sounds like if you’re organised and follow these then things can move swiftly and efficiently!

    • markstraveljournal April 20, 2020 / 8:52 am

      Thanks for the comments. I have a niece in London who moved just a few weeks ago and that was stressful (she did it all via Uber…). Cheers!

  7. Yazmin April 20, 2020 / 9:10 am

    You covered every aspect. Nice post. I can just imagine the anxiety going through it all, despite being home, its the waiting and uncertainty that comes with it. Stay safe and healthy.

  8. Diffusing the Tension April 20, 2020 / 9:47 am

    Can’t imagine needing to make this decision right now! That would be so hard. Sending love to everyone going through this!

  9. John Aiwone April 20, 2020 / 4:20 pm

    Great write up. You’ve really fleshed out the complications of travelling abroad during the pandemic and ways in which you can get around them and air on the safe side of things. Appreciate you sharing, hope you’re staying safe and sane wherever you are.

    Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures

  10. Unwanted Life April 29, 2020 / 6:49 pm

    I can’t imagine trying to sort out flying back home during a pandemic, let alone being trapped with other people during a pandemic as your fly back. Do they scrub the entire thing down after each flight? If not, every surface could be contaminated, and those kind of thoughts would drive me up the wall

    • markstraveljournal April 29, 2020 / 7:08 pm

      Thanks for the comments. Airlines have modified their cleaning protocols and they need to clean from top to bottom. Travel post pandemic looks a lot better then now.

  11. nortoncharity April 30, 2020 / 2:15 pm

    I could not imagine trying to travel internationally right now during this pandemic. I am glad I don’t have to, but these are such great tips for anyone who is trying to do so.

  12. John Aiwone May 2, 2020 / 10:39 am

    I’ve had a few family friends and uncles and aunties who have been standing abroad because of borders closing due to the pandemic. Thankfully most of them are back here now but posts like these are definitely comprehensive and helpful for getting them out of these sticky situations.

    Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures

  13. Karlie Clark May 13, 2020 / 2:49 am


    Excellent post. You shared insightful information to help travelers prepare for the chaotic journey of returning home during this time. I myself was traveling in India when the pandemic started. I tried to go home, but my flight was cancelled the day before the borders here were shut down. Therefore, I had no option but to remain in India for the lockdown. I have written a blog post on the subject I would love for you to check out if you have a chance!

    Best regards,

    • markstraveljournal May 13, 2020 / 7:55 am

      Thanks Karlie. I read your post. (I liked it but couldn’t leave a comment). Best wishes to you. I look forward to reading more about your travels in India.

  14. Caskbeerandbreweriesblog May 24, 2020 / 12:22 pm

    A lot of planning indeed I could imagine, this is great advice for anyone who is stuck in other countries

  15. Jaymee Vee May 27, 2020 / 7:56 am

    I was living in China, Shenzhen, around the time the pandemic kicked off over there, and aside from hating it over there, the pandemic was terrifying. Luckily, because we were so close to Hong Kong and that issue has simmered, we were able to get out rather quickly. But I didn’t have any amount of information that you’ve given so I ended up leaving a lot of things and poorly planned. I will share this with my friends who weren’t as lucky as I was. Thank you.

    • markstraveljournal May 27, 2020 / 8:14 am

      I really appreciate the feedback, thank you. Glad you are well and best wishes for your friends

  16. Root of Awesome June 4, 2020 / 12:19 pm

    Extremely practical and useful advice!!

  17. Hayley Pugs July 1, 2020 / 10:57 am

    Thank you for this. I am from UK and stuck abroad in canary islands … They did ban travel indeed and we are heading home in September …

    Handy advise too


    • markstraveljournal July 1, 2020 / 11:14 am

      Hey Pugs, thanks for the comments. Canary Islands doesn’t sound like a bad place to be stuck but I hope all is well there with you and your mate. Cheers!

  18. Jenny in Neverland August 28, 2020 / 8:27 am

    Really helpful post for anyone in the same situation right now. Sounds like it could be really stressful!

    • markstraveljournal August 28, 2020 / 8:33 am

      It could be stressful for sure. I flew last month and found it quite easy and reassuring with all the safety measures in place. Thanks for the comments.

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