How to Spend the Holidays Abroad

by Alex Schnee
( November 27th, 2014 )

Spending Holidays Abroad

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I must say, it is my favorite holiday for so many reasons (the least of them not being food) and I am pleased that I get to spend it with my family and some of the best people before heading back to Italy for six months.

However, I will be missing Christmas—another big holiday for our family. Instead of making it a tough emotional experience, I’m going to try and make it fun instead by doing some traveling. I think it’s a good distraction for me to be on the road and concentrating on where I am going rather than where I could be. Here are some recommendations I have heard from other travelers and some thoughts I’ve had when missing holidays back home before:

Find Wifi

You would be surprised how a simple Skype conversation or a phone call using a service like Viber can help when you are away from family and friends. Wifi is a traveler’s best friend when he or she is looking to contact some of the people from home. Last Fourth of July, calling my parents and seeing what their plans were for the holiday made me feel like I was there—even without the fireworks and picnic food.

Find some Fellow Expats/Travelers

You won’t be the only one missing home in your new city. Often it only takes an internet search or two to find a local expat community in your area. Spending time with some other travelers away from their homes can help you to feel less alone. All it takes is a little research to find a group that you would fit in with. Expat communities aren’t only a good idea for holidays. You would be surprised how helpful they can be with the everyday issues you might face while living in a foreign country. Checking out what is available can be a great idea when you want to have some feedback or need a friendly ear to listen to any complications you might be facing abroad.

Stick with a Tradition or Two

Do you have a special tradition during the holidays that you can’t imagine going without? Go ahead and celebrate. I love having hot chocolate during the winter, so you can bet that I am going to treat myself to that minor tradition when abroad. It’s the little things that often make a holiday, and by honoring some of those smaller traditions, you’ll find that you won’t miss home as much as you thought.

Have you ever spent a holiday abroad? Where did you go?

Image courtesy of peddhapati.

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Dealing with a Busy Travel Schedule: Tips and Tricks

by Alex Schnee
( November 25th, 2014 )

Busy Travel Schedule

It’s going to be a busy next few weeks of travel for me. I’m headed back to Florence for a few weeks before Paris, then I’ll probably head to Eastern Europe for a bit (Prague and Vienna) before off to Japan. It’s a busy, crazy schedule and I will be working at the same time, so learning how to pace myself is going to be a major part of making all of this happen.

Here are some things I’ve found and others have told me help when you have multiple trips in a row:

Accept that you won’t adjust to time differences.

I’ve had a few people admit to me that they don’t even try to adjust to time differences when they are constantly flying. It would take too long to reset your internal alarm clock every time you arrived in a new time zone. Instead, go to bed when you are tired and stay awake when you are feeling up. It would be one thing if you plan on staying in a location for more than a few days, but when you only have a week or two or less, it’s better just to go with how you are feeling.

Watch what you eat and make sure you’re immunized.

When you are constantly traveling, it can be pretty tough on your system—you’re exposed to unknown germs and if you’re feeling tired you are more likely to pick them up. Before you depart, make sure you have taken the time to visit the doctor and have talked to them about what immunizations you will need before you head abroad. They might have some that they would recommend or that you might need. You’ll also want to watch your stomach and think about what you can eat before you bite into something that could make you feel sick. If you’re not used to eating dog meat, then you might not want to when you only have a few days in China.

Give yourself a break.

When you are only planning on being in a location for a few days, you want to see and do as much as you can. But you can easily wear yourself out—and either get sick or be too tired to really enjoy the experience. Make sure you have plenty of time to rest and try and relax if you can on the plane ride there and back.

Have any tips for a busy travel schedule?

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Going Expat: Some Items You’ll Need Living Overseas

by Alex Schnee
( November 21st, 2014 )

Paris Eiffel Tower

I’m headed back to Italy to live and work in about ten days—time for a new adventure! One of the things that potential expats have asked me in the past is how do I know what to bring when I’m going to be gone for an extended period of time. It does take some thought and time to think about what you are planning on hauling with you overseas. Here are some things I’ve found I need immediately after I depart that plane.


With electronics as such an important part of our culture and how we travel, knowing that we can charge them at almost any location is a big deal. Before I head to a foreign country, I research whether or not I will need an electrical adaptor. Different countries have various degrees of currents, and your charger for your phone most likely won’t work if you are headed anywhere out of the States. You’ll want to see which adaptors you can find for where you are planning on visiting.

SIM card

This one depends on how frequently you want to contact everyone back home and let them know that you are alive and well. I know some millennial travelers who prefer not to have a cellphone, but I personally like to let my family know when I’ve arrived in a location and that I’m safe and sound. A quality international SIM card is cheap and easy, and can be extremely valuable in case of an emergency.

More than one credit/debit card

You never know how much cash you are going to need, and having a few debit or credit cards is a good idea when you are traveling. Most banks only let you take out a certain amount of cash from an ATM when abroad, and when you are planning on paying rent in a foreign country, sometimes they require the entire thing in cash. That can be a lot of money and planning if you only have one card. Plus, if you happen to lose one, having a back-up card or two can be a lifesaver.

An open mind

Deciding to live abroad for an extended period of time is not an easy thing to do. You’re probably aware that you will face challenges you will never have to when you decide to remain in your own country (language barrier, cultural differences, etc.), and keeping an open mind and being willing to be confused, frustrated, and occasionally isolated is part of the experience.

Any other things you would recommend when deciding to move abroad?

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