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Life Lessons Learned From Living Abroad

Living abroad can be a very scary and very rewarding experience all at once. If you’re considering making the move yourself, read through these common experiences first. 

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 For some of us, the thought of living abroad is a nearly unachievable fantasy if not a completely unappealing and crazy decision. But for others, it’s the most magical and exciting choice available. Regardless of what your personal opinions are about living abroad, there are plenty of positives and negatives that come with it. Here are some that anyone who has actually done it can agree with.

RELATIONSHIPS COME AND GO

One of the greatest things that comes from living abroad is new and wonderful friendships. Meeting people from different areas of the world with different experiences than yourself can be invigorating. It can help you learn more about yourself and give you a new and powerful perspective on life.

But on the flip side, moving abroad can greatly damage your existing relationships. Is it so hard to believe? Suddenly everyone you’ve ever known and gotten close with is halfway around the world. So naturally, you’ll lose some friends. Some of those losses will be organic, some will happen because certain friends are angry you left.

This can make the experience very difficult. But if you’re considering making the move don’t let this deter you. The most important people, the relationships that really matter, will always be there. And in some cases, it will even make the bond stronger.

SAY HELLO TO YOUR NEWFOUND CONFIDENCE

Deciding to move to a different country where you have little to no comfort zone can be very scary. How are you supposed to get comfortable in this new, foreign city? How are you supposed to just build a new social circle from scratch? How on Earth will you get comfortable?!

But dealing with those questions, and eventually answering them, can be an extremely rewarding experience. It will force you to know yourself better than you ever have and achieve a level of confidence and comfort with yourself that you never thought was possible. And you can take that newfound comfort and confidence with you for the rest of your life, wherever you may go.

GET READY TO MISS VERY IMPORTANT STUFF BACK HOME

This can be one of the hardest parts for anyone living abroad. There will be some many important events: birthdays, funerals, weddings, the arrival of a new baby, etc, etc. And you will most certainly miss at least some of them. It’s just impossible to travel back home enough to be there for every important moment. So it will be very difficult to pick and choose which ones you use your vacation days on.

But while you’ll miss lots of memorable events with family and friends, hopefully you can convince plenty of them to come and visit you for always enjoyable memories abroad!

BE PATIENT, BE WILLING

Many people, when visiting or moving to a new country, will remain in their own comfort zone and make very little effort to truly immerse themselves into the local culture. This is a sure fire way to make sure you move back home much sooner than expected.

It’s important to really make an effort to take in whatever city you move to in all its glory and imperfections. And, possibly even more crucial, it’s important to be patient and give yourself time to get comfortable there. It could take a while. Longer than you think. But if you give yourself plenty of time to adapt and get comfortable in your new city, you will eventually get the full experience you set out to get in the first place.

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

The concept of “home” has a lot of different definitions for different people. For many people, it’s as simple as where they’re from – where they grew up. But for others, it’s as simple as where they live. Either way, it’s easy to move to a foreign city and find yourself missing that feeling of “home,” regardless of how many friends you have or how much you’ve immersed yourself in the culture.

This can be a very difficult emotion to live with and there’s really no perfect answer for how to deal with it. It will vary from person to person. But be sure to give it the proper amount of attention and really evaluate on your own time what “home” means to you and how important it is. Because that childhood home that you’ve barely spent any time in over the last decade may not be as important as it used to be anymore.

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Travel

Read This Before Traveling with Pets

Traveling with your four legged friends: The term family is so broad nowadays especially considering how we view our pets. My dogs are not just parts of my family but they are the bond that keeps us going. Today pets are becoming more intertwined in…

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Traveling with your four legged friends:

The term family is so broad nowadays especially considering how we view our pets. My dogs are not just parts of my family but they are the bond that keeps us going. Today pets are becoming more intertwined in our lives and going everywhere we go. Its rare that I go on a plane and their isn’t an emotional support dog sitting close to me. Everywhere we go is becoming more and more accessible for animals and over half of American’s travel with their pets.

I bring my guys with me whenever I can and it makes me happier to have them with me. Animals are important because they have positive impacts on our lives and we need more positivity in our world.

I would never put my animals underneath the plane or in a cargo bay, bit that is a personal preference. Some dogs are perfectly fine with going down in the cargo, but not my babies. For the pet owners like me, getting your pet registered as s support animal is the way to go.

It’s becoming easier to get your dog or cat or really whatever pet registered as an emotional support animal, which means you can literally bring them anywhere. It doesn’t matter what the reason, because of the ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) its illegal for someone to ask you why you need the support.

Emotional Support Animal

This is the best way to travel with your pet because with a support animal, you are not restricted by where you can take your pet. The process is actually pretty easy and only takes a few steps. First, to technically have an emotional support animal, you need to suffer from some sort of mental or emotional disability, which 1 in 4 Americans have. These disabilities can range from PTSD all the way to anxiety. Once you are diagnosed with an issue, you need an official letter from a licensed clinical professional. Now all you have to do is find a reputable certification company like CertaPet to process your application and pass their screening process. Now with an official prescription for an emotional support animal, you can take your furry friend anywhere you go.

Consult your Veterinarian

Always check with your vet before you book your travel, some animals may not be suited for travel. It’s always good to consult your vet and get your entire pet’s shots and medicine before travel. Some destinations will require you to have a health certificate for your pet to pass quarantine. It’s also just a rule of thumb to see if your destination has a mandatory quarantine and for how long. Some countries and islands more specifically have stricter guidelines to protect their natural environment.

Food and Water

Make sure your pet has plenty of food and water.  It gets dry in the sky so on airplanes, they need extra water.  Many airports have animal relief stations now, which are basically little patches of grass so they can use the bathroom too.

Pet ID

Get your pets fresh identification in case they get separated. DO you have a new number or a local number of where you are going; it’ll help to have those on the tags.

Pet carrier

Make sure your pet will be comfy on the trip. Has your pet grown since your last trip? If so, they may be too big to fit in their old carrier.

Contact Airline

Every major airline has different rules and regulations regarding pet travel, so make sure you cross your t’s and Dot your i’s.

Check in and Book Early

Check in and book your flights early to save yourself a last minute headache. When checking in, make sure you let the airline that you have a pet, often they will let you board early and that is a great advantage.

Toys and Treats

Pack your pet’s favorite toys and treats so they are occupied. Nobody wants a bored puppy acting up on a long flight.

Pet Drugs

Many people tend to drug up their animal for a flight, while this may work for some, I prefer not to dope up my doggies. Also, it’s good practice to test out the sedatives before your trip so if your animal has any adverse affects they won’t happen 10,000 feet above the earth.

 

Hopefully this guide helps you travel with your furry friends and alleviates some of your concerns.

 

Photos Courtesy of HealthyPets, PetZiti, superCoolPets

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How to Pick your Travel backpack

Picking the right bag for your trip is going to save you so much hassle. The right bag will benefit you and make your trip easier, so make the right choice for your specific adventure. Weigh the pros and cons for what you will be…

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Picking the right bag for your trip is going to save you so much hassle. The right bag will benefit you and make your trip easier, so make the right choice for your specific adventure. Weigh the pros and cons for what you will be doing, where you will be going and more importantly, how are you traveling. These all will determine what bag to chose, Backpack or Suitcase. Just remember, every journey is different, so a bag that worked for a work trip to Minneapolis may not work as well on a trip to the Nile River Delta.

 

Suitcase versus Backpack

First, you must decide to bring a suitcase or backpack? Each has their advantages and disadvantages, so chose wisely. Suitcases are better if you are traveling to one location and not moving for a longer period of time. Backpacks however are better in almost every other situation.   Suitcases are awkward to carry around, they seem to get damaged easier than backpacks and are just not as efficient. I can pack so much more in my backpack than I can in a suitcase of comparable size.  

If you have physical restrictions like back problems, then surely you should choose a roller suitcase, but for all others, go backpack.

 

What to look for

So, we decided on a backpack, I guess you are going on an adventure. If you chose a suitcase then you should read another blog by some nerd who only uses suitcases.

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, here is my backpack picking protocol.

 

Water Rating

Check out the fabric to see what it’s water rating is, which is a very important and you’ll thank me later. Waterproof is the best but water-resistant is acceptable depending on your trip. If you are going white water rafting, maybe choose water proof, all other trips water resistant should be fine.

 

Lockable

Does your bag have a built in lock? That is important if you are flying or staying in a hostel or other group living situation. Think about it, the bag has all your belongings for your trip so you want to make sure your stuff is safe. Nobody wants some stranger rummaging through their stuff while they sleep.

 

How Many Pockets

This is a crucial question to ask, because you want to know how much packable space the bag offers. These numbers are usually offered in cubic feet.   It also matters how you pack, so make sure you read my blog on packing tips to get the proper techniques. The amount of pockets and the space they provide is very valuable information to help determine which bag to use.

 

Frame?

Does the backpack have a frame and is the frame external or internal. Frames help to distribute the weight of a bag on the person’s back, to make carrying more efficient. Check out all three types of bags: frameless, external and internal frames, to see what suits your needs and preferences better.

 

Padding

How’s the padding, is it soft enough or is it hard or just plain cheap feeling? Does the back have ample padding as well for the shoulder pads? I prefer a good amount of padding on the shoulders, as this is the area that carries the most weight.

 

Size

How big is the bag and how easy will it be to navigate your trip with this bag fully packed on your back? Trial and error is probably the best way to determine these aspects.

 

Price

Finally, how much are you willing to spend on such a bag and what’s too much? This all boils down to personal preference and your bankroll. I would tend to stay away from the cheaper bags because they will be made poorly and you don’t want your bag to break mid trip.

 

Good luck finding the perfect bag for your adventure and remember proper preparation makes for a better trip.

 

Read the full article over at NomadicMatt

Photos Courtesy of physictourism, ubelong, TravelHack, travelfashiongirl

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Should I Join a Frequent Flyer Program

Back in 2008, I joined my first frequent flier program. Despite having traveled around the world for close to two years, I never saw the value in signing up for one – I’d always been more concerned with price than brand loyalty, so I switched…

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Joining a frequent flyer program is important and very valuable if you fly often.  Saving you money, making booking easier and enjoying in all the perks related to frequent flyer programs, you will be a happier traveler for sure.

Back in 2010, I joined my first frequent flyer program. Despite having traveled around the world for close to two years, I never saw the value in signing up for one – I’d always been more concerned with price than brand loyalty, so I switched networks and carriers all the time. The lowest price always won.

Another reason I had never signed up before? All my favorite carriers are spread out over different alliances. Japan Airlines (JAL) is on the Oneworld network, while Singapore is on Star Alliance. Emirates Airline, the carrier that makes me salivate the most, isn’t on any of these networks.

Yet back in 2010 I realized that as I was going to fly around the world more, blogging as I went, it was probably a good idea to join an airline alliance – racking up miles, earning upgrades, and getting lounge access was probably a good idea for someone who was going to be in an airport every few weeks.

Over the years, I’ve been a member of all the alliances and my opinion about these programs has changed since I first wrote about them in 2008. Last year, I wrote about why people should not be members of frequent flier programs. Sure, you should always sign up for the program to get the points, but if you aren’t flying enough to hit elite flier status, then you should base your decisions on price. Go with the lowest price and when you do get miles, exchange them for a free flight.

But if you do think you are going to fly enough to make it worth it, you should totally join a frequent flyer program. The lowest tiers in the program, while not great, usually start at 20,000 flown miles.

You can read a lot of opinions on which program to join. Some people will say to join them all, others will tell you to join the ones with your favorite carriers, and others believe you should join the one with the major airline in your home town. I’m of the last opinion. The right alliance to join is the one on which you will most likely earn elite status.

This year I switched from Oneworld to Star Alliance. I did so because I was supposed to move to Europe and the major airline out of Stockholm is SAS, a Star Alliance member. But now that I’ve moved back to the States? I’ve switched back to American, a Oneworld carrier, because they have a hub at JFK and I like them better than United, who is part of Star Alliance.

I strongly recommend that if you are going to be traveling a lot, you stick to one alliance and earn elite flier status. Your status will last 14 months, so even if you don’t fly a lot the following year, you can still reap the benefits for a little while longer.

Because there is nothing like seeing the line for security check-in and realizing you can whiz right on past it or sit in a comfortable lounge with free drinks to make the flying experience infinitely times better.

 

 

 

Check out the full article over at NomadicMatt

Photos Courtesy of Baltia, dailyMail

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