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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Talking Turkey: Thanksgiving Travel Tips

by Alex Schnee
( November 18th, 2014 )

Thanksgiving Travel Tips

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when everyone goes home for the holidays and you’re left struggling to find ticket prices that you can afford and that don’t leave at 5 am. It takes some effort, no doubt about it, but with a little bit of strategic planning, you can find a flight that works for you and your Generation-Y budget.

Think Ahead

The last thing people tend to think about is getting that flight home in the early fall, but the truth is that you can often save hundreds of dollars by booking in advance. When you are thinking about booking a trip back for Thanksgiving, you might want to start thinking about looking on sites like STA as early as late September. Not only will there be plenty of room, but most haven’t taken the time to book their trips back, so you’re likely to save quite a bit of cash.

Don’t Choose Wednesday

If you can help it, try not to book your flight for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It’s the busiest travel day during the holiday, and airports can be discombobulated as they try to accommodate so many people and so many different flights in and out. If possible, the Monday or Tuesday before is a much better way to go. You won’t have to worry about bumping into people as much, and you’re more likely to be dealing with an airport running smoothly and will get you to your destination on time.


Chances are that you are only going to be gone for a few days, and thinking about how much you really need when you are headed back home can determine whether you need to check your bag or whether you should carry it on. Obviously, the lighter you pack, the less hassle you will have to deal with. Carrying on can save you from waiting in the long lines at the check-in counter. Also, this is the perfect time to use that fancy smartphone and check-in online. Skipping lines (any lines, though perhaps not security) during the holiday season is a good idea.

Think about shipping anything that is too big to carry on. If you are thinking about bringing the Christmas gifts early, see if you can have them transported another way—planes will be unbelievably crowded and sometimes airlines will charge you more for a checked bag.

Have any tips for traveling during the Thanksgiving holiday?

Photo courtesy of Ruocaled.

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Have a Sweet Tooth?: The Best Chocolate Places in Europe

by Alex Schnee
( November 13th, 2014 )

Best European Chocolate

It’s no secret that I love food. I mean, love food. And some of my favorite food can only be found in Europe—including chocolate, which should be a staple in any Generation-Y traveler’s diet, right? I began to think about some of my favorite places and where I would return in order to have the perfect chocolate bar. Here’s what I came up with:

Lucerne, Switzerland

There’s a reason people laud Swiss chocolate as some of the best in the world. It’s some of the creamiest chocolates you’ll ever have, and there’s nothing like curling up in a chair with a piece of it up in the Alps. There are plenty of locations and gift shops where you can buy some to bring home, but there are also some specialty shops like Frey Chocolate that offer some great options.

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels has a lot of reasons to visit, including some fantastic beer and waffles. But chocolate might be the best thing about this tiny city. Walking through the streets, you’ll find plenty of chocolate shops, including ones with fountains. The hardest part? Choosing the best one to enter and to purchase as a gift. I would recommend Neuhaus, which has been open for since the 1800s. Also, don’t forget to try the varieties of chocolate on your waffles.

Venice, Italy

I may be a bit prejudiced when it comes to finding chocolate in Italy, because Venice still remains my favorite city there. However, it does have a long tradition of serving up some of the best hot chocolate in the world (I’m not just making it up). Want the true Venetian experience? You’ll want to stop by Piazza San Marco and duck into Café Florian. It’s been a meeting place for artists and writers for decades. It’s expensive, but worth the treat.

Paris, France

In a city of decadence, it seems only right that chocolate would be a major part of the Parisian culture. Although there are so many different shops in Paris, the best ones are usually the ones who have upheld family traditions for years. I recommend Fouquet, which has hundreds of different kinds of chocolates available and numerous recipes you might want to bring home to the people you love.

Do you have a special place in Europe that you like to get your chocolate? Disagree with any of the choices I’ve made?

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