The Big Move: 10 Things to Leave Behind When Moving Abroad

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1.      Closed-mindedness

First of all, if you can’t let go of what you know, then how can you discover something new? Approach Nicaragua and its new culture with an open mind and respect and you will soon reap the rewards, so leave your inner critic behind. Several studies have shown that people who move abroad and engage in their local environment often increase in their depth of thought and creativity.  Learning to adapt and adjust to a new environment is a vital skill for any expat, so don’t critique and never compare — sometimes things are different, and that isn’t a bad thing at all.

2.      Toiletries

Are you sure that your favorite rose-scented soap won’t be available in Nicaragua? Is it unlikely that you will find argan oil shampoo in Nicaragua? The truth is toiletries can be bought worldwide, with many popular brands being available in department stores. Furthermore, toiletries are extremely heavy to carry and will weigh you down on your journey, not to mention that they often leak from air pressure on planes, managing to ruin your perfectly packed clothes. If there’s something you love and can’t find, the answer is simple — order it online!

3.      Bedding

This is a controversial one. Whilst taking your duvet with you may seem ridiculous, as it takes up a huge amount of space in your luggage, many expats are uncomfortable with their new sleeping situation. Some countries such as Germany have very large pillows, and people in warmer countries such as Nicaragua rarely need or use duvets at all.  MOst Bedding sizes are compatible with beds in Nicaragua, so it’s possible that your own bedding will fit the bed. But decide with the hot climate whether you will need to fly your favorite goose feather duvet to the tropics.

4.      Clothes

Clothes is a tricky one for many expats, as often you are moving to a new environment, and, moreover, a new climate. This makes moving abroad the perfect opportunity to finally clean out your wardrobe and rid yourself of that old jumper which makes your skin itch but you keep “just in case”. Do some good in your neighborhood and give what you don’t need to charity, as clothes are needed for refugees across the globe now more than ever. So be ruthless with your packing, and generous with your donating.

5.      Technical Appliances

So in the New Year, you may think you desperately need your smoothie maker and zucchini spiralizer. However you may not think it’s so vital anymore when you find yourself  paying another extra luggage fee, which probably costs more than the appliance itself. Moving country is stressful enough already, without you having to drag half of your kitchen across borders. Living in a new culture, you can immerse yourself in delicious foods and traditions, and if you really can’t live without something, simply buy it here. If you really want to bring some of your more expensive items, be sure to invest in a lot of bubble wrap!

6.      Transportation

It’s true, many of us love our cars, some of us even have names for them. However, it may be time to let go. Consider if it is a particularly safe country to drive in,  The major cities in Nicaragua are very busy and you’d be better off with public transport in many cases Take into consideration the cost of importing your car, the price of gas, taxes,  ease of finding car parts and the licensing fees you must pay. It’s well worth considering your method of transport when choosing Nicaragua as your new home— maybe this is the year for you to go green and get a bike?

7.      Furniture

Many of us have some beautiful furniture and it can be heartbreaking to leave things behind. However, if you can bear to let some things go, your journey will be significantly easier and also lower in cost. Perhaps you can see your move as an exciting opportunity to get some overalls on and enjoy decorating your new home. However, if you do decide to keep your furniture, there are countless international companies who offer overseas shipping of your belongings. If it is not included, it is also worth getting insurance, because transport accidents do unfortunately happen, both at sea and on the road.

8.      Pets

This is a horribly tricky situation for any expat, as moving your pets to another country can be complicated, expensive, and sometimes even risky for your furry friend. If you are only relocating for a short time period, perhaps you could find out if you have a trusted neighbor or friend who could care for your pet while you are away.

Consider whether you will be able to cope with caring for your pet at a busy time of your life, when you will be potentially occupied with long working days, decorating, and adjusting yourself to a new environment. If you are sure you cannot leave this furry family member behind, be sure to find out about your country’s specific requirements needed for pet immigration to Nicaragua such as vaccinations and pet passports.

9.      Food

You might want to bring your favorite biscuits from home, but this will take up a lot of space, and if a packet of food spills out into your bag, it can, like shampoo, wreak absolute havoc. Since you won’t be able to carry most food items with get online and have a look at delivery possibilities, if it’s something you can’t live without. On the other hand, it’s important to remember that you are in a new place and that the culinary delights for you to discover are going to be endless. In Nicaragua, you will find fresh fruits and vegetables and a splendid array of all kinds of luscious delicacies that are uniquely Nica.

10. Your Worries

Of course you are going to be stressed when the time comes for the big move, but what good did it ever do to worry? Your move  is possibly going to be the most exciting part of your life yet, so enjoy the novelty and uncertainty of the road ahead. Follow the Swedish proverb — “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” Good luck!

 

Catherine Bishop-Internations

Why we Love León!

The blue hour (from La hora azul, in Spanish, or L’Heure Bleue in French) is the period of twilight early in the dawn each morning and late dusk each evening when the sun is at a significant distance below the horizon and the residual, indirect sunlight takes on a predominantly blue hue. In our beautiful Colonial city of León, colonial and baroque architecture from our fascinating Cathedrals serve as the perfect backdrop each and every day. A town that will soon celebrate 500 years of existence.

THE CULTURE 

One of the 3 most prominent cities in Nicaragua  León, is a culturally rich city. It has become an important industrial, agricultural and commercial center for the country as well as a historical colonial midpoint. There are more churches and cathedrals in León than anywhere else in Nicaragua. It is truly a didactic city with many influential artists,  and home to various museums that are worth  your visit.

THE FOOD

Nicaraguan food is a mixture of interesting dishes and unusual ingredients. In León you will find a menu for any taste. From the Fritangas located outside the Mercado central or La Estacion serving anything from Chicken to beef to pork to the fancy restaurants located all over the city offering a variety of different menus.

León night life has options for almost everyone. Dancing is an essential part of the Nicaraguan culture and there are several great clubs to choose from that offer chances for you to practice your Salsa or just groove the night away to the latest club beats. The Zona Rosa district offers a  uniquely Nicaraguan spirit to the bar scene. Every day of the week  you’ll find a different spot  for eating, drinking and dancing.

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THE OCEAN

Just 20 kilometers from León, there is the Pacific ocean rim with a beach divided into two quaint beach villages next to each other called Poneloya and Las Peñitas. Both towns offer a laid back atmosphere with a wide range of beach activities  like swimming, surfing, sunbathing or watching a truly magnificent sunset. The towns are connected by a long stretch of wide sandy beach surrounded by an array of hostels and restaurants serving fresh seafood. Both areas attract surfers and avid swimmers with their impressive small regular waves. If you love surfing or would like to learn this can be a perfect place to start.

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THE PEOPLE

The citizens are warm and welcoming. Nicaragua has been experiencing an increase in tourism in the last few years as more and more people discover this “undiscovered” gem.   More and more the Nicaraguan people are openly embracing the interest that vacationers, expats, and investors have shown in their country.

Nicaragua is evolving and  ready to embrace tourism.  León’s rich history, friendly people and  Nicaragua’s dramatic landscapes are waiting to be explored. The traveler to this quaint city and fascinating country will be rewarded with unforgettable memories and an authentic Latin American travel experience. Some have called Nicaragua the “Next Costa Rica”, but we have to say it should be called the “New Nicaragua“. Come and Meet León Nicaragua!

Thank You

As 2016 comes to a close we at the León Travel Bureau want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of our blog. Our heartfelt gratitude for your likes. We have decided that 2017 will be the year we redesign our blog. Starting in January, each month we will be bringing you the faces and places of our awesome city. Meet special places to go, special people we would love for you to meet and lots of other fun things to see and do in our special place called León. We hope you have a wonderful Holiday season and we look forward to taking you on an amazing visual journey through our city soon!

 

Merry Christmas and Happy new Year from The León Travel bureau.WARM WISHES FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON.png

 

Top Travel tips for Holiday Travel

Travel Industry Wire

The leaves are turning, there’s a nip in the air and before long, the holidays will be upon us. For those with a less than rosy outlook, it also means time to back your bags, grit your teeth and endure the long schlep  through countless security lines and airport terminals filled with temperamental travelers.

And because holiday travel brings with it its own set of challenges, to reduce stress be prepared before booking your trip.

Following these tried and true tips can mean the difference between a miserable flight delay and the opportunity to enjoy some of the country’s best travel lounges and maybe even work in a massage or two–because spending holidays with family or visiting a a new country can be stressful enough without the added stress of travel delays.

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 Check and double check. Before you leave for the airport, check to see that your flight is on time. Make it easy on yourself and sign up to receive travel alerts from your airline, notifying you of flight status and changes to gates or flight times.

Plug in, and tune out. Create your own private oasis. Treat yourself to some great headphones, download your favorite tunes, movies and audio books and look at your travel time as some “me” time well spent.  If nothing else, this song has been scientifically proven to reduce stress by a whopping 65 percent.

Pack your A game. When it comes to holiday travel, it’s best to pack as light as possible and wear the bulkiest items on your flight. If you can get it all in a carry-on, all the better. If you’re traveling over the December holidays, a single carry-on bag might not be feasible. In that event, be sure to pack your essentials (medications, mini contact solution bottle, chargers and cords, etc.) in a carry-on lest your bags be lost or your flight delayed. And gifts? Leave then unwrapped in case TSA wants to take a peek or consider shipping them ahead.

Get the 3-1-1. The 3-1-1 rule for liquids still holds. Three ounces. One 1-quart bag.  The rest goes in your checked baggage.

Time is on your side. Allow plenty of time to get to  the airport, plenty of time to check your bags and plenty of time for security. Some savvy travelers allow for additional 90 minutes.

App it to me. There are some great travel apps out there that will give you the location of every eatery, bar, shopping venue and traveler lounge in the airport. Good to know. Even better, some airline apps have a rebooking feature in the event of flight delays and cancellation.

Fly direct. Direct flights, especially those early in the morning are best. Direct because you don’t risk missing or having your connection canceled. Earlier because in the event either of the former two things happen, you still have the chance of getting on a later flight.

Follow the Golden Rule. Be kind. Be generous. Be mindful that everyone else is struggling to get home as well, and in the event of delays, airport employees are also under fire and stressed.

10 Reasons you Feel Homesick in Nicaragua

Ten Reasons Why You Are Still Homesick

Ten Reasons Why You Are Still HomesickiStockphoto

Nearly everyone has been homesick at one point in their lifetime. Thankfully, homesickness does not last forever; living in a foreign country is a chance of a lifetime, and you should do your best to make the most of it! Exploring the reasons behind your homesickness can help you with that. Homesickness does not necessarily have anything to do with your home; it merely arises from suppressing change. It is a form of anxiety and depression that develops when someone is placed outside of their comfort zone. It is part of human nature to desire a familiar, comfortable, and secure environment. It is also part of human nature to form life-long bonds with loved ones. Consequently, separation from any of these aspects can cause homesickness. If you find yourself struggling with homesickness, maybe you:

1.   Need to Expose Yourself to Your New Environment

Sometimes people automatically make assumptions about a city or a culture. For instance, assuming that you will not like the food, music, or language is not an acceptable attitude for anyone moving abroad. Growing and changing is a part of life; how could we possibly grow if we are indirectly closing ourselves off from situations that are outside of our comfort zone? One way to overcome this is to dive right in: take that language class, taste the local meals, spend time in the city, meet new people, and make new friends. You will never know for sure if you are going to like something, unless you try it.

2.   Have a Bad Case of “FoMO”

FoMO, also known as the fear of missing out, is a social anxiety disorder.  As funny as it seems, people do indeed suffer from it. People suffering from FoMO develop longing and envious feelings towards friends and family if they see that their loved ones are spending time together without them; one example of this would be the ever-present pictures on Facebook or Instagram. Hence, social media can ultimately result in being too interconnected. Instead of wishing to be back home, focus on spending some time offline. This way, you will be able to explore and take your own pictures to share with your friends and family back home.

3.   Have Forgotten What You Love

Hobbies are essential for being happy and content with your life. Everyone has a hobby, whether as simple as reading, or extravagant like ballroom dancing; even if you do not, it is never too late to pick up a new interest! Hobbies are a great way to engage your mind and creativity outside of work or class.

 4.   Have Ignored Your Own Culture

In adapting to a new environment, sometimes people forget to stay in touch with their own culture. Take the time to plan parties and get-togethers with friends to celebrate occasions that you normally would back home. This could be anything from gathering for a sporting event to celebrating a holiday. For an example, a US American abroad could set time aside to celebrate festivities such as Thanksgiving or the Super Bowl. Even if your new friends are not from the same culture as you, they will definitely enjoy experiencing something new.

 5.   Have Not Swapped Cultures

With our world filled with so many diverse and interesting countries, sometimes it is hard to find something in common. If your neighbors are from different places as well, it is always fun to learn more about other cultures! One way to do this is to organize weekly dinner parties where everyone brings a dish from their home country. Even if some of your friends are not foreigners themselves, they can always bring a favorite local dish. This is a great way to see that others are also dealing with the challenges of being away from home.

 6.   Have Not Made Plans

Planning trips in advance with a friend or family member creates something to look forward to.  That being said, it is crucial not to go back home during the first few months after moving abroad. Since it is hardest for you to adjust in the beginning, it is important to become acclimated to life in your new environment. Hence, accompanying a friend or family member to a new destination is a perfect compromise to take a bit of home with you on your journey.

 7.   Have Not Created a Bucket List

Remember that you are living in a new country! This is a new frontier that most people are unable to experience in their lifetime. Therefore, you should be grateful and make use of it. Make plans: What cities do you want to see? What adventures do you want to have? What accomplishments do you want to achieve? Make a list of all of these goals, and challenge yourself to achieve them before you leave. This will keep your mind active and give you something to look forward to throughout your stay.

 8.   Are Bored

If you are among those expats who do not have work, the more free time you have on your hands, the more time you spend daydreaming and pondering what you are missing. To stay sane, it is best to fill your schedule with daily and weekly routines. This can include anything from exercising to shopping and meeting up with friends. Anything done regularly will help you feel more at home!

If you are an expat with a full-time job, this can apply to you as well. If you need a break from work, make sure that your weekends are booked with tasks to do! This way you will feel more satisfied that you are fulfilled outside of the office, too.

 9.   Have Forgotten to Reflect

We only remember so much about the events that happen in our life, never mind how we feel from day to day. Writing down your thoughts can help you stay in touch with your emotions. Whether or not you have kept a journal before, reflecting on the events that took place during your day is a therapeutic and calming activity.

When you write in your journal, it is best to focus on the positive aspects in your new schedule. If you are feeling down, try to think of something that was entertaining that day and compare it to a scenario that may have occurred back home. If something truly terrible happened, write about how it made you feel and why. Analyzing past events may help you prepare for future reactions to similar scenarios.

10.   Have Forgotten to Stay Hopeful

Have confidence that no matter how homesick you are feeling, it does not last forever.  Homesickness occurs because there are people who we love in this world; this mixture of anxiety and depression is not a sign of weakness, but a consequence of stability and attachment. It is a natural feeling that nearly everyone has experienced at least once in their lifetime. This is why it is so important to stay strong and embrace your time abroad! After all, experiencing a new culture is an adventure in itself!

How to Avoid Travel Scams When Traveling Solo

Solo travel is one of the biggest trends in the travel industry right now and it’s not surprising because delving deep into foreign cultures and flying off to far-flung places is an amazing feeling. But traveling alone can also make you vulnerable in many places and being aware of travel scams is a good way to protect yourself, says the Huffington Post.

“With a record number of people immersing themselves into different cultures and countries, it’s not surprising that a number of travel scams have become common practice throughout the world,” writes Danielle Nelson.

Thankfully, Nelson notes, these scams seem to be fairly similar around the world.

One of the most common scams is the “bump and grab” which is most common in large crowds.

“This is a favorite time for the bump and grab, as thieves know you are occupied and surrounded, so they can bump you and grab your stuff, then dart away. The surrounding crowd then makes it hard to notice you’ve been bumped, and even harder to catch the thief who nabbed your stuff. It is so simple, yet so effective,” notes Nelson.

To avoid it, she recommends keeping valuables zipped up and safe.

She also recommends watching out for the ATMs you use.

“While ATM fraud happens more often in the United States than it does in other countries, it is always good to be aware. Always try to use ATMs at banks, as thieves shy away from surveillance cameras. And watch out for common ATM scams like card skimming and money grabbers (sort of like the Bump and Grab),” Nelson points out.

Ticket scams are another way travelers can be taken advantage of.

“Beware of cheap tickets and refundable schemes. If it doesn’t seem like the right price (aka a significant discount from what you would pay the window of the event or attraction), I highly recommend not purchasing,” says Nelson.

To avoid it, she recommends always buying tickets from accredited ticket offices.

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The Bump and Grab

In many cities, if you see a large group of people congregating around a landmark or market, try to pay special attention to your pockets, backpack, or purse. This is a favorite time for the bump and grab, as thieves know you are occupied and surrounded, so they can bump you and grab your stuff, then dart away. The surrounding crowd then makes it hard to notice you’ve been bumped, and even harder to catch the thief who nabbed your stuff. It is so simple, yet so effective.

How to avoid it: Keep all valuables zipped up in safe pockets and, if you feel like a distraction ploy is happening, don’t be scared to turn around and check for the guilty party. Hold your wallet or purse tight when you can, and keep your eyes peeled.

The Conversion Rate/Charge You More Scam

“Would you like to pay in (local currency) or U.S. dollars today?”

This is a phrase you will hear often when traveling abroad. From your hotel to local vendors. You only have so much cash, so you want to make sure it goes as far as possible, right? Well sometimes these savvy dealers know that you only have so much US cash and/or foreign currency, and either want you to pay with your credit card or with the US dollar you do have… and then use an absurd conversion rate to jack up the price from the local currency price.

How to avoid it: This is an issue from Hertz to Hilton to local vendors, so know the conversion rate, and try your damnedest  to get enough local currency before you go and only pay with that. If they say you can pay with your credit card or US Dollars, make sure you know the conversion rate beforehan

How To Stay Safe While Travelling

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And your vacation is calling you to Nicaragua!

You may dream of sipping Piña Coladas on the beach while watching azure waves. You may fantasize about dancing the night away in a cool salsa club. Or you might long for adventure gliding down a volcano or rappelling in beautiful waterfalls.

But no matter where you go, you can expose yourself to danger. However, common crime appears not to be the central issue for those considering a visit to Nicaragua. What seems to worry most potential travelers to Nicaragua is not crime, but war. Incredibly some seem to believe Nicaragua is still at war, a bit surprising, since the Contra conflict ended over 26 years ago. After achieving peace, Nicaragua vanished completely from the world news radar. Common sense precautions and decent language skills are a must for independent travelers coming to Nicaragua for the first time. Since hostels and many budget lodgings  are located in sketchier parts of town, one  should avoid night walks alone and keep your valuables in your room or safe whenever available.

So let’s start our discussion by addressing pre-departure planning. First, you need to understand any risks associated with your  trip to Nicaragua. International travelers are often surprised to learn that the United Nations ranks Nicaragua as one of the safest countries in Latin America. These days, it’s easy to research your destination via the Internet. You can learn local customs and gain valuable insight into the region’s political, social and health issues.

Some of the most useful sites are provided by the U.S. State Department, the U.S . Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as well as the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

Homicide statistics are listed for U.S. cities and countries with a population of 250,000 or greater. Rates are based on cases per 100,000 people for all of calendar year 2014.

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Use these sites to get the latest updates on travel warnings, health risks, visa requirements, and crime statistics in Nicaragua. They can also provide contact information for  foreign embassies and consulates.

Next, accept that different cultures often have different customs and beliefs. And remember that travel involves a good deal of unpredictability. So it’s vital for you to learn everything you can about Nicaragua — including its history, traditions, rituals and institutions — even if you are staying in only one place. Keep in mind that what you consider normal, everyday behavior in America might be interpreted quite differently in various places around the planet. Seemingly harmless conduct might offend or even incite people in other countries.

Don’t wear T- shirts with social or political messages, including raunchy rock or rap references. National pride aside, avoid wearing flags or flag-inspired insignias because they may attract unwanted attention, especially during an election year.

Packing and Carrying

Always pack your own bags when traveling. This holds great importance if you are traveling outside of your respective country. One of the first questions you will be asked by customs officials is: “Did you pack your own bags?”

The idea is you are responsible for whatever is contained within those suitcases. If you packed them, you can be sure about what customs officers will and won’t find.

For example, some food or personal items items could be considered prohibited. So when a customs officer finds the “contraband” in your bag, you could face delays or fines.

And when you’re packing, you should always make sure that you place the most essential items on top where they can be retrieved easily. In an emergency, you don’t want to have to dig down to the bottom of your bag. This will become especially important if you ever have to ditch your bags and carry only your essentials.

Mark Your Luggage

We are all familiar with traditional luggage tags. They’re very important when you are standing in line at baggage claim or when you’re trying to discern your luggage at a hotel.

In any case and in any way that you choose to expose your creativity, be sure to mark your luggage to make it easily identifiable to you.

 

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I.D. Carriers

An I.D. carrier is an excellent way to carry your important papers, licenses and other documents. Everyone from soldiers, law enforcement personnel and civilians should carry everyday ID cards, licenses, visas, passports and credit cards.

An ID carrier is a piece of gear that every traveler should not leave home without. It’s a small pouch that’s usually worn around the neck as a convenient way to protect these items during the numerous times you will need quick access to your personal information.
Make sure you have copies of any and all important documents such as your passport. Keep the copies in a safe place and do not carry them with you. Also write down all your credit card information such as bank, type of card, VISA , MC, AMEX, etc., card numbers, expiration dates and security codes. Put these in a safe location as well.

Avoid ID carriers with cord or string lanyards. If possible use carriers with a ball-and -chain type neck cord similar to those used on dog tags. Ball -and-chain cords can save your life because they easily break away if pulled or tugged.

Homicide statistics are listed for U.S. cities and countries with a population of 250,000 or greater. Rates are based on cases per 100,000 people for all of calendar year 2014.

 

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Mitigate the Risk of Street Crime

To avoid being a target, always dress to blend into the environment. In other words, keep a low profile. Don’t draw attention to yourself with flashy jewelry and designer clothing unless you’re surrounded with people who dress the same way.

Another cardinal rule while traveling is: Do not flash cash. Keep as little money on your person as possible when you’re on the move. Use small bills to pay for things.

Additionally, separate your cash and your credit cards. In this way, if you happen to get jacked, then just reach into your front pocket and give…them the 20 dollars or 40 dollars to satisfy them.

Practice good situational awareness as you move about at your destination. Keen eyes and sharp wits are always readily available and they make the best weapons against street crime.

Lastly, be aware of people around you. Be smart and limit the information you reveal while talking in your hotel or restaurant or a local watering hole.

Travel Happy and stay safe!

 

 

 

 

 Excerpts from