2018 was the year I spent the furthest from “home” than ever before in my life. In fact, this past year is the first time I could officially call myself a true expat! I’ve spent many weeks of my life traveling, but never truly resettled in another country until this year.
I started 2018 in Myanmar, jetted over to China, then Scotland, Cuba, Sri Lanka, The Maldives, Bermuda, Seattle, Monaco, explored Armenia, Norway, moved to Paris and Rome, spent a few weeks in Egypt and Jordan… and somewhere in between it all, I learned a whole lot about myself and expatriate life. Today, I wanted to share some of my reflections on this past year and my biggest tips for anyone making the leap into expat life.
And if you’re looking for more tips on how to become an expat, I’m sharing all of my insight over at on Western Union’s “How To Become An Expat” blog post! Be sure to check it out.
Be Crystal Clear As To Why You Are Relocating
Despite what many will tell you – transitioning to another culture isn’t the hard part (at least in my opinion!) about relocating… it’s finding yourself in the mix of it. This year has been an incredible, transformative one for my own self development. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to really only have myself to answer to.
And that being said, it’s incredibly important for travelers to know the exact, clear cut reasons why they’re choosing to relocate their lives. It takes some serious self-evaluation before anyone should make the move across the world. Ask yourself “what exactly am I moving for?” – are you moving to find yourself, change a career, to experience a culture as a local?
Instead of jumping right in to finding your dream location, income, housing and visa applications… first and foremost, do your soul searching! Being set on your intentions makes everything more motivational and inspiring.
Making Friends Abroad
A major fear many travelers face, especially when going solo, is that they’ll never make real friendships while they’re exploring. I’ve actually found it to be completely opposite!
A great place to start is to book a few group tours or excursions. It’s a great way to make friends without the pressure. In your free time, ask a fellow traveler if you can tag along on their afternoon adventures if you have free time. More ideas on making friendships abroad here!
When all else fails – just ask a simple question! Lots of solo travelers meet just by asking something simple when in a restaurant. Remarking on how delicious a person’s meal was can bring about a lifelong friend. Who knows? You might just be meeting your new bestie.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your online community as well! I love to meet up with friends I’ve met through Dame Traveler and other online expat communities out there!
It’s The Little Things That Make A Distant Place Feel Like Home
Culture shock and home sickness have been two serious hurdles I have overcome this past year as an expat. But my biggest trick for making your home away from home feel more like “you” is simple.
Adding little familiar touches, like a candle or a book, really makes any space feel yours. Sentimental items into a new space makes any place feel intimate and cozy. After a long day of missing routines and structures of familiar places, seeing something that reminds me of my friends or family makes everything feel better.
Self care can look different to an expat too! One of my favorite days while abroad this past year was just cooking a simple, familiar meal my little apartment. Find out restaurants and flavors that remind you of home. When I was in Paris, there was an American diner and I used to always go there for comfort food which reminded me of home. It was my little slice of heaven on those hard days that came around every now and then!
The Best Part About Expat Life?
Well, for me? Growth. This past year I truly was able to immerse myself in the life changing opportunity to live life in an unfamiliar place. Through the challenges and hurdles, the beautiful moments of bliss and thrill, seeing the changing of the seasons and the chapters of my life unfold – I learned so much about myself.
Be sure to check out my interview with Western Union, where I’m sharing my other big tips for becoming an expat!
To the Dame Traveler expats reading this – what are some of your biggest lessons you’ve learned through relocating across the world?
This post is sponsored by Western Union. All opinions are my own.