What is the hardest thing about living abroad?

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="464" caption="Girl getting knocked out by boxing glove. Photo: B. Garrett / Flickr"][/caption] To your friends and family back home, it might seem like you're living an endless vacation. Especially if you only share cool photos on Facebook (I've been guilty of that). But long-term expats know better. The challenges of residing in a foreign country are very real. There was a discussion thread on Quora titled, What is the hardest thing about living abroad? Looking back on that made me reflect. Here are some things from my list: Career/Personal Stagnation -- There's nothing wrong with drifting… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (7)  | November 5, 2012
Category: Expat Life, Notes from the collective travel mind

What to bring if you move to China (or anywhere in Asia)

"What do I bring?" is a vexing question that most first-time expats face. You don't want to bring something and carry it when you could just buy it on the ground. On the flip side, you don't want to be stuck without an item you really need. Nick and Tim from The Elevator Life, a video blog for young Western expat entrepreneurs in China, made this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5WKxid97jo&feature=player_embedded Some of the advice, especially dealing with banks and smartphones, were very useful. These are the kinds of things that can cause a lot of hassle if you don't know about them… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (0)  | October 15, 2012
Category: Asia, Expat Life, Travel Video

Book review: Dancing in the fountain by Karen McCann

Dancing in the Fountain how to enjoy living abroad written by Karen McCann Now available in print and on e-reader, August 2012 “Living abroad is an opportunity to reinvent yourself that rarely exists outside the witness protection program.” ~Karen McCann From their first date, Karen and her husband-to-be, Rich talked about living abroad. Instead--after getting married--they moved to Cleveland, Ohio for two decades. Yet during a vacation en-route to Italy they stopped to visit a friend in Seville, Spain. One visit led to another and eventually Karen, Rich along with their dog, Pie went to live in Southern Spain for… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (1)  | August 2, 2012
Category: Destinations, Europe, Expat Life, Languages and Culture, Travel Writing

A travel destination can become home

Kek Lok Si temple @ Penang - Picture by Kit Chan 2010 Most people passing through Penang do so because of the UNESCO World Heritage status given to this Malaysian tropical island on July 7th, 2008. Few stay more than the couple days needed to breeze through the main sites and have a quick gastronomic tour. Even fewer do not complain about the higher beer prices not found in other neighbouring Southeast Asian countries. “What do you like about this place? You have been here for so long!” Once again, the tricky question kicks in. Let’s put it this way:… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (0)  | June 7, 2012
Category: Asia, Destinations, Expat Life, Vagabonding Life

A fast way to calculate cost of living in different countries

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="A bill and a calculator. Photo: Dave Dugdale / Flickr"][/caption] Considering costs is a vital part of planning your entry into expat life. Neglecting budgeting can abruptly cut short a stay. On the other hand, a little financial planning can pay off in a longer and more enriching lifestyle than you dreamed possible. A great web-based tool for this is Numbeo. Just type in the name of a city or select a country from the drop-down list.  You get the standard information, like how much expensive it is to rent an apartment. You also get much… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (0)  | May 21, 2012
Category: Expat Life, Money Management

Budget travel: a view from long term vagabonding

  [caption id="attachment_14301" align="alignright" width="300" caption="picture by Kit Yeng Chan"][/caption] There has been a recent debate about budget travel against cheap travel: the article draws some interesting comparisons between budgeting your trip, and actually being too much of a cheapo to make the best out of it. As much as I agree with many of the statements presented in the article, I had to stop and think hard to find a parallel with my own experience.  Because I did not. For example, as my own travels in greater Asia testify, it is still very much possible to travel for less… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (3)  | March 8, 2012
Category: Asia, Destinations, Expat Life, On The Road, Vagabonding Advice, Vagabonding Life

Complete guide for American expats returning home

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Activists in Seattle mocking Black Friday sales. Photo: John Henderson / Flickr"][/caption] Have you ever returned home, only to feel like home was more foreign than any of the exotic locales you've visited?  You're not alone.  Reverse culture shock has a way of ambushing people, despite how much you may have heard about it. When we travel, we have our awareness up.  We know we must learn and adapt.  But home?  We let our guard down.  We don't have to think too hard, because we're back on familiar ground.  Or so we think. CNNGO published the… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (5)  | February 24, 2012
Category: Backpacking, Expat Life, Notes from the collective travel mind

The remote CEO who left his company to see the world

[caption id="attachment_13225" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="A remote control. Photo: espensorvik / Flickr"][/caption] Most career break literature out there is focused on the employee who requests a leave of absence from his boss.  Rarely is it about the boss who takes a sabbatical from his own business.  Inc. magazine had this story: Inside the mind of a runaway CEO. While most office satire is about the workers being stuck in their jobs, this article illuminates that entrepreneurs can feel trapped by their companies as well. They may have started their business to escape the grind of working for someone else, only to… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (2)  | November 25, 2011
Category: Expat Life, Lifestyle Design, Notes from the collective travel mind

Budget traveler interview: Marcus Sortijas

[caption id="attachment_12663" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Marcus Sortijas at the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan. Photo: Marcus Sortijas"][/caption] Pop quiz, hotshot: what are the best travel tips you can share?  I'm more comfortable writing stories about other travelers. This time, I was on the other side.  Jessica Spiegel, a fellow vagablogger, put me in the hot seat in Budget Traveler Interview: Marcus Sortijas. The piece was displayed on the website CheapTicketLinks, along with interviews of other vagabond luminaries such as Seth Kugel, who writes "The Frugal Traveler" column for The New York Times.  Nice to be positioned along such esteemed company. You… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (1)  | August 5, 2011
Category: Backpacking, Expat Life, Lifestyle Design, Notes from the collective travel mind

Getting started as an expat writer

[caption id="attachment_12592" align="aligncenter" width="525" caption="A man and woman using laptops on a train. Photo: Marco Raaphorst / Flickr"][/caption] Working as a writer abroad is like tackling two dreams at once: writing and travel. Tough to pull off, though especially if you want to earn a living.  Graham Holliday, an experienced journalist, laid out his strategies for success in this Slideshare presentation: Frontline Club - solo foreign correspondent. My favorite advice was in slide #26: Go somewhere cheap - especially if money is an issue - and go somewhere odd. If you've done your research and you've made contacts and you… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (0)  | July 22, 2011
Category: Expat Life, General, Notes from the collective travel mind, Travel Writing