Living Abroad: Tips for Expats

by Alex Schnee
( January 23rd, 2015 )

Living Abroad Expat

I’ve been living as an expat off and on in Italy for about a year now, and I am always reminded about how you need to make a certain schedule for yourself while you are living abroad. When I first get settled in, I love this new-found freedom of being able to do whatever I would like, but it doesn’t take me long before I start craving a basic structure to my days abroad.

Here are some tips to helping you develop your schedule when you are living abroad.

Know what you miss from home.

It’s easy for me to pinpoint what I miss after living in Italy for a few weeks—I miss watered-down, American coffee. It’s become a ritual for me to sit down at my computer with a cup of jo and work on my writing for the day, so I’ve learned which little comforts make it easier for me to get through the day. It’s often the daily things people base their schedules off of—the small feeling of peace you get from a meditation session or having time to watch an episode or two of their favorite TV shows.


It might be the last thing you want to do when you’re surrounded by good, foreign food and there isn’t a gym in sight, but exercise can contribute a lot to finding the right schedule for you. I’ve been doing yoga most mornings and making an effort to walk ten miles or so a day (which isn’t hard when you live in Europe). Knowing that these are an important part of both my mental and physical health has helped me put together a schedule that I can stick to most days.

Know when you need time alone and when you need company.

Adjusting to living abroad means that you will meet a whole group of friends, but living in a new culture can take a lot out of you, as well. If you’re an introvert like me, you need time to process your time abroad and to spend a few hours alone. But you should also know when to take advantage of your social life and to have some fun experiencing your new chosen culture, as well. This also means knowing when to turn your cell phone off and to take a break talking with those from home.

Do you have any tips for someone trying out life as an expat?

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Traveling Solo as a Woman: Is it Safe?

by Alex Schnee
( January 20th, 2015 )

Women Solo Travel

I wrote a post a few months ago about traveling when there are safety concerns, and in light of the recent attacks in Paris, we as travelers might be facing those fears more than ever. It seems the world was a relatively safe place to explore a few years ago, but the truth is, anytime you travel, you are facing some new dangers. That’s part of the adventure—it’s something you have to accept when you are choosing to leave your comfort zone in order to see and experience something new.

As female travelers, we face more dangers than our male counterparts. We have more to worry about, usually. For years, a woman traveling alone was considered an oddity. Even today, when curious female friends ask me if I am planning on traveling alone and I say yes, they shake their heads.

“I could never do that,” they say.

But they are very wrong. They could. More than could. They can. We all have our fears and it’s understandable that this might be one of them for some. But it’s a reminder that sometimes we must step out of what’s comfortable and easy in order to do what we really want to do.

What if you are a female traveler thinking about heading out on a solo journey for the first time? You should know that there are plenty of safe locations throughout the world where you can give solo travel a try. Talk to friends and family and see if they have any recommendations for you or a locale that they think would be a good initial start to your adventures as an intrepid female traveler.

The world still is a very safe place—you just have to make sure you are choosing the right locations and that you do your research before you leave. Traveling alone (or traveling in general) is always a bit of a risk, but with a little preparation, some gumption, and an idea of what you are doing, traveling solo as a woman is more than a possibility right now. To not take advantage of some of the opportunities available would be a shame—we might get to the point when traveling isn’t so safe.

What has been your best experience traveling alone as a woman? Have you had a good experience? What are some ways we women can prepare for taking on the world as solo travelers?

Image courtesy of srilanka_ladyboat.

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How Long Should You Stay in a Place?

by Alex Schnee
( January 15th, 2015 )

Bed Hotel Stay

Lately I have been asked by a lot of friends how long they should stay in a certain location when they are traveling, and the answer is not always an easy one. I think it’s hard to give a straight answer—and you’re going to get different answers from each person who has visited.

Here are some things I think about when I am considering how long to stay in a place.

Why are you there?

Is it there for vacation? Or to see friends? Are you planning on hitting up every museum? Knowing why you are in a certain location can help you when deciding how long you think you should stay. If you are there to visit family, you might want to stay longer than three days (or not depending how much you like your family). If you are just there to try some of the local foods, you might want to stay a little less.

Where are you staying?

One of the incentives for me to go to Japan was to see my friend, and he graciously let me stay with him. Tokyo can be extremely expensive, and I managed to save a lot of money by staying with him. So knowing where you are going to rest your head at night can help to determine how long you might want to hang out in a particular city. My friend Ruth and I went to Paris a few days last month and we found that four days was plenty to do and see all that we wanted.

Do you have a budget?

Even if you don’t have a set amount of money that you want to spend, if you have a general idea, you can craft your days and how much time you can take away from your job on that. It helps to have a plan of how much you need to save and how much you can use to enjoy where you are. If you know you can only spend a few hundred dollars, you’re obviously less likely to take a ton of time off and treat yourself to fancy dinners and a new bag from Chanel. Before you think about how long you want to spend, you might want to check that bank account first.

Do you have any tips on someone should choose how long to stay in a certain place? How much time would you give a major city like New York or Paris?

Image courtesy of James O’Gorman.

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