How To Stay Safe While Travelling


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.


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.



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.



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

13 Reasons Expat Children Thrive

Growing up abroad can be one of the most beneficial gifts a child can receive. It’s amazing how much children thrive when they realize their horizons are wider than a TV or game console screen.

Entering a new culture, learning a new language, and living a different lifestyle provide boundless opportunities for growth. The Latin Tropics offer many locations where families with youngsters can truly partake of the potential such a move can provide.

13 Reasons Why Expat Children Thrive

When speaking about expats, the first image that often comes to mind is that of retirees or investors looking to find paradise beyond the boundaries of the U.S. However, with the growth of global markets, many young families with offspring are moving beyond borders to explore new vistas and opportunities.

One of the surprises of such a move is that these expat children not only adapt, but thrive, in their new surroundings. Below are 13 reasons why a move to paradise may be the most potent positive force in a child’s upbringing.

13. More Educational Choices

Expat children have a number of different schooling choices that can compete with (or surpass) a traditional U.S. upbringing. In this sense, education goes far beyond mere book learning.

Homeschooling is one option that also can strengthen family unity while providing learning. In areas with growing expat populations, local schools often will teach classes in English or provide opportunities to non-native speakers.

In many locations, international schools exist that instruct pupils in their first (or native) language. These institutions, while somewhat more expensive, offer wider curriculum choices and the chance to interact with other expat children both socially and during the learning process.



12. Learning Adaptability 

Older expat children quickly discover that life in their new country is not the same as back in the States.  Learning how to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities their new country provides is an important life skill that will make the transition to adulthood less stressful.

11. Self-Reliance 

Being the “new kid” is a challenging task, whether in the U.S. or abroad. By learning to establish themselves in their new home, expat children build a sense of self-reliance that they can fit in anywhere in the world.

10. Growing Social Skills 

Children enjoy interactions and mastering new skills. Getting involved in local sports (Hint: Football is actually soccer!), attending local festivals and going on play dates with other expat children will all contribute to the growth of social skills that are so necessary in the modern day world.

9. Checking Their Materialism at the Door 

Being exposed to cultures that do not emphasize materialism can have a profound impact on expat children. Learning to appreciate what they have, and realizing that material goods are not the measure of happiness, can be a powerful lesson as they grow into adulthood.

expat kids

8. Learning a New Language 

Expat children have the advantage of being able to learn and use a second language on a daily basis. In the tropics, this second language is, most often, Spanish.

Communicating with locals in their own language makes immersing in local culture that much easier. With the number of Spanish speakers increasing in the U.S., this is a skill that will be in increasing demand in years to come.

7. Gaining an International Awareness 

One of the most important lessons that expat children learn, and which helps them thrive in the future, is that there is a world beyond the U.S. borders. It can be far too easy for those who never travel abroad to ignore the uniqueness of other parts of the globe.

Living in a foreign country adds an awareness of just how diverse societies are. For youngsters growing up in a foreign country, they become “world citizens” whose view of life is not limited by a single national identity. 

6. Stronger Family Ties 

As everyone adapts to their new life abroad, reliance on the family and appreciation of mutual support tends to strengthen the bonds between parents and children. This, after all, is a shared adventure, and knowing that they are not alone can make the transition to an expat child that much easier.expat kids

5. Immersing in a New Culture

Instead of just reading about a new culture, expat children can actually become part of it firsthand. Participating in local events, celebrating local holidays, and sampling local foods are just some of the ways that young expats can immerse themselves in their new world.

Being part of a different culture is a profound experience that can provide a broader perspective on life in general that can carry on through adulthood. 

4. Seeing “Home” Through a Different Lens

One of the most important lessons that expat children can receive is the ability to see their native country from a different point of view. Being able to see “home” as others see it can offer a unique understanding of how we are viewed and, more importantly, how our actions can influence the perception that the rest of the world may have of expats.

nosara costa rica

3. Living in a Special Place

Expat children quickly learn that their new country is truly special in its own way. The overall essence of their location can captivate their imaginations and bring them to an awareness of how unique this opportunity is and how fortunate they are to have it as a life lesson.

2. New Hobbies

Expat children living in the tropics have a whole range of new hobbies that they can experience. Surfing, snorkeling, and boating, are just some of the activities that are more readily available in the Latin Tropics than in most of the U.S.

Importantly, children will have the opportunity to get up off the couch and enjoy the beauty and the wonder of the natural world that is now part of their day-to-day life. 

1. And the Number One Reason Expat Children Thrive Is…Becoming an Expat Is an Adventure!

Children are naturally curious and enjoy exploring and experiencing new and exciting places and things. This sense of adventure, with the security of sharing it with the whole family, makes the move abroad something to be embraced and treasured.

Doing your “homework” as a parent (and potential expat) can provide the kind of insight needed to ensure that your children’s expat experience is a positive one. The potential for learning life skills and self-awareness that expat children have can open many doors for them in the future.

Chasing the Central American Dream


Many are flocking to Central America for a more philosophical reason. Have you come to the realization that Europe isn’t what it used to be, and the American Dream is getting harder and harder to find? For many, the pursuit of the American Dream has led them to Central America. An economic environment that people are slowly discovering that encourages growth, and a culture of close-knit, caring communities; the kinds of things that once made America great, but have unfortunately  started to disappear. Many are finding that these ideals have expatriated to Central America.

The increased tourist traffic is encouraging news for those who own property or businesses in this region. This is another reason so many are flocking to Central America: the amazing investment opportunities. Nicaragua is a great example of this. This country is experiencing rapid growth, especially in the real estate market. Prices are low, and the potential for future growth is high. This makes it the perfect time to consider purchasing real estate in Nicaragua.

The New American Dream is moving to Central America


The American Dream – that age-old cultural tale that permeates into every single part of our lives. Why did we go to school, church, work, and thanksgiving day parades? What was it that brought the pilgrims and settlers to the U.S. and inspired the founding fathers to write the constitution? What drives people to take chances, risk their futures on the opening of a new business, move into a newly developed neighborhood, or join new community organizations? What exactly is the “American Dream” for many Baby boomers? That expression dates back to a post-war period in U.S. history. Suburbia exploded. Comfort, wealth, and leisure defined the middle class. Schools were world-class, unemployment was not a problem, and platonic families were large, traditional foundations of social life.

  • 40% of the workforce will be temporary workers by 2020.
  • Women are leaving the corporate world.
  • The old minority is the new majority.
  •  Over 40% of the U.S. workforce will be leaving in the next decade.

The world we live in is in distress  on an increasing basis. Violence is rife, education is failing, and the middle class is disappearing. It has never been harder to enter the middle class, or exit it as a retiree. Families are struggling , healthcare is insanely expensive.

Have you been wanting to start a business ? Do you want to live by your own rules, set your own schedule, and go where you want, whenever you please? How about if there was an opportunity to do this in paradise, and with a lower cost of living than you rely on now? Sound too good to be true? It’s not. It’s becoming a very real possibility, and retirees especially are turning towards Central America in waves. Baby boomer populations are seeking healthier environments in friendly nations south of the U.S. border.

But it’s not just retirees that are making their home in Central America. There is an increasing amount of younger generations also looking for more stable lifestyles because to them it’s not where, but how you live that makes you happy. It’s not what you consume, but what you give to society that creates a lasting impact.


Have you been considering becoming a part of the booming trend of  baby boomers to retire in paradise and leave a lasting legacy for your children and grandchildren?

10 things you’ll need to know before visiting Nicaragua

It won’t take long to fall in love with Nicaragua. Between the rainforests,  Colonial cities, palm-fringed beaches, refreshing mountain towns and genuinely friendly locals, it’s hardly any wonder so many foreigners came to Nicaragua just for a visit—and then decided they never wanted to leave.

But while there’s a lot to love about the Nica lifestyle, there are a few things first-time visitors should know before arriving in Nicaragua. Keep your expectations in check and these tidbits in the back of your mind, and you’re sure to have the trip of a lifetime.


1. The Roads Are An Adventure

Driving in Nicaragua takes patience, caution and confidence. While most of the major highways across the country are paved and in relatively good condition, you’re also sure to stumble upon potholes, dirt roads, traffic blocks and (if you’re lucky) even the occasional cow procession. Cars with 4×4 are essential, not optional. And though there are official speed limits, we’ve found most people seem to drive as fast as their cars allow—until they get stuck behind 18-wheelers.

2. Don’t Flush Your Toilet Paper

Visitors are always shocked when asked to throw their toilet paper in the trash bins rather than flushing it down the toilet. In many places in Nicaragua, the plumbing isn’t strong enough to handle toilet paper without getting blocked up. Less embarrassing to toss your paper than block up the public restroom.

3. Water and Electricity Can Go Out Unexpectedly

This is one of those things that could drive you nuts as it always seems to happen at the most inconvenient times. Like when you’re just about to make dinner and then there’s a blackout. Or when you’re back from a day of sun, sand and sea and the shower won’t turn on. Luckily these outages tend to only last for a short while and then things are back to normal.

4. Don’t Put Your Hands Or Feet Anywhere You Can’t See

Nicaragua is a tropical country, which means there are creepy crawlies.  Try not to reach into dark places (such as shoes or dark closets) until you’ve checked for creepy crawlers hiding such as the ocasional scorpion or spider.

5. Diacachimba (dee-ah-ka-cheem-ba) means an awesome Lifestyle

This word can have either a positive or a negative meaning (we’ll stick to the positive meaning here).  This is  also Nicaraguan slang for “cool”.

7. Don’t Leave Anything Unattended

Nicaragua is typically a very safe and friendly country one of the safest in Central America, HOWEVER, there is petty crime. Don’t leave anything on the beach unattended, even if it’s just your sandals.. Even if your car is locked, don’t leave valuables unattended inside. Basically, stay smart and don’t leave anything around for easy snatching.

8. Things Are much  Cheaper

Many travelers expect Nicaragua to be a cheap Central American destination. However, in large part due to its  growing popularity as a tourist destination, many things  you purchase as a tourist  in Tourist destinations really aren’t that inexpensive. Since a large majority of foreigners own tourist related businesses they tend to charge a little more than local owned businesses for certain products or services. If you live or travel like a local you’ll certainly save money!

9. Nicaragua Is Truly One Of The Most Magical Places In The World

corn islND

10. Nicaragua is A Nature Lover’s Dream Destination

Over the years, travelers seeking a fun, cheap, and adventurous destination came here as an alternative to “touristy” Costa Rica and Panama once they realized Contras weren’t still roaming the jungles.

Since the secret’s out,  Nicaragua is a hot destination spot for families, retirees, and backpackers relishing the cheap beer, hiking, and good surf.  Nicaragua is filled with amazing natural beauty and extremely warm people. Though the country has been “discovered,” there are still many opportunities to wander off the beaten path, interact with locals, get in touch with nature, and avoid the hordes of travelers asking where they can get a pizza.While the driving can be crazy and the Spanish slangs may be difficult to understand, there’s a reason why Nicaragua is  becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Live a Stress-Free Life in Nicaragua

If there is a constant thing in this world other than change, that is stress! People are stressed when they are overwhelmed by life’s problems and adversities, when things don’t go according to plan, or when things are just too much for them to bear. According to MedicalNewsToday, anything that poses a threat to a person’s well-being is a stress. Life isn’t perfect and there seems to be stress in the different areas of our lives. However, we are still in full control of our entire being and what we are and what we become. One of the benefits of retiring in Nicaragua is living a stress-free life.

 Nicaragua is simply stunning!

For one,  Nicaragua offers spectacular scenery. Just this one fact  alone can be nurturing for the mind, body and soul. Think of beautiful beaches and gorgeous landscapes. It’s great to wake up to fresh air and a beautiful view every day. There are many places in Nicaragua that offer beautiful scenery and you will be certainly be in for a treat. As you travel all over Nicaragua its magnificent and stunning views  will never fail to brighten up  your day.


Nicaragua has great weather.

Think about those times when an impending snowstorm has caused you to worry. Or when just thinking about shoveling your driveway has brought you stress. In Nicaragua, you won’t be stressed out by the weather because it is  sunny most of the time with rainy days during the wets season from May to October. In Nicaragua’s mountain highlands where people experience spring like temperatures all year, people are comfortably cool and relaxed without expensive utility bills.   Expats from cold countries who have chosen to retire in Nicaragua find that they no longer suffer from cold weather-related health issues.

Nicaragua offers low cost of living and the US dollar is widely accepted.women-and-money.jpg

Money matters have always been known to contribute greatly to stress. Parents need to provide food, shelter, education and a comfortable life to their children. People need and want certain things in life, in addition to the basic necessities, they all require money. There’s that social need as well wherein people need money to be able to go out with friends and be connected with others. In Nicaragua, financial concerns are much less because of the low cost of living. Nicaragua offers great incentives for retirees and entertainment, utilities, and food is affordably priced. As a result, expats living in Nicaragua find that they can afford things that they weren’t able to afford before. They are now able to stretch their budget and even have money left over for savings. A vacation or two every year wouldn’t hurt as well; thus, contributing a lot to one’s overall wellness. In Nicaragua, people are able to do more for less which is just perfect.

Nicaragua  offers lots of outdoor activities.


Why go to the gym when you can go hiking in the rainforest, walk along the beach or go swimming in the ocean? Whale watching!  The breathtaking view alone will most certainly bring a smile to one’s face. Add an outdoor activity to that and the result is a healthy mind and body.  an opportunity for you to enjoy what Nicaragua has to offer. Swimming, kayaking, hiking, mountain climbing, zip-lining and much more – these outdoor activities in Nicaragua will keep you staying fit, healthy and active.  There is always something new to explore in Nicaragua.


Nicaragua has fresh food all year.

Thanks to its rich, fertile soil, Nicaragua grows its own crops; thus, importing food is not necessary. The country is able to provide fresh food for everyone; hence, people living in Nicaragua are able to eat fresh, organic vegetables and meat. Corn is the main ingredient of many  dishes so you will find lots of corn fields in the country.  When it comes to fruits, pineapples, papayas, oranges and mangoes are aplenty. As the saying goes, “you are what you eat”. It is essential to eat fresh and healthy food in order to achieve a healthy body. Having a healthy body greatly reduces stress.


There is a solution to stress…

Many people think that since stress is a constant, nothing can be done about it. Stress comes in many different ways, forms and levels, and while it cannot be avoided entirely, you can do something to alleviate it. Nicaragua can be the answer to a life with less stress. This is one of the benefits of retiring in Nicaragua – the kind of benefit that encompasses many areas of one’s life. With less stress, a healthy, happy life follows. Think of what it can do for you. Do something while you still can. Come to Nicaragua and see how living a life with less stress can be achieved.

The León Travel Bureau can show you what living in Nicaragua could be like!



Surviving Earthquakes & Other disasters in Nicaragua

Over the years Nicaragua has been hard hit with many natural disasters.  The most disastrous was the earthquake of 1972 but there have been numerous other disasters to occur in the area including Hurricane Mitch in 1998.  The earthquake in 1972 in Managua hit in the middle of the night killing thousands of people.  The earthquake injured thousands more and left a few hundred thousand homeless.  Disasters like the earthquake in 1972 in Managua and hurricanes that affect the entire country have had a devastating effect on the country.

When traveling or relocating abroad, one of the most important factors to consider is safety. Of course, there is always some risk associated with international travel to areas prone to earthquakes or other natural disasters. With that being said, there are various precautions which you can take to ensure your safety while visiting or for extended living. These include packing a first-aid kit, practicing cautionary eating and drinking, and increasing your overall alertness of yourself and your surroundings.

While in Nicaragua, there are some dangers which may be completely out of your control, such as natural disasters. Therefore, it is important to know whether a region  of the country you are traveling to has a strong disaster preparedness strategy and appropriate preventative infrastructure. Over the past several years, Nicaragua has impressively developed its disaster preparedness infrastructure to ensure the safety of both locals and tourists alike.

Lessons from the Past

In its past, Nicaragua has faced various natural disasters, most notably the Managua Earthquake in 1972 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998. While these events were tragic, they were greatly beneficial to Nicaragua in the long term as far as Disaster readiness.  As a result of Mitch, there was a major shift in the country’s preparedness methods and disaster control.

Now it is common to find anti-seismic buildings, flood prevention mechanisms, repaved roads, and increased water accessibility. Effectively, these improvements have immensely reduced the impact of natural disasters on the people of Nicaragua.

Implemented Infrastructure

Natural disasters happen in all parts of the world, and they are virtually unavoidable. However, with proper defensive infrastructure, the impacts of these events can be substantially reduced. In addition to the physical improvements listed above, there have also been great societal advances to Nicaragua’s disaster prevention plan. Throughout the country, local Red Cross branches and similar foundations have collaborated with schools, universities, and other partner organizations to brainstorm and spread precautionary information regarding relevant natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods.


A few years ago, the Nicaraguan government instituted a large-scale plan as part of the National System for Disaster Prevention, Mitigation, and Attention (SINAPRED) to educate its citizens on how to effectively stay safe in the case of natural catastrophes. As part of this initiative, thousands of locals have been trained to go door-to-door to educate people on how to prepare for, and stay safe during, potential natural occurrences. Likewise, this plan established escape routes, shelters, and assistance centers throughout the country to offer universal aid in the case of a disaster. Several disaster drills by government officials are conducted throughout the year in different municipalities to prepare personnel and the general population in the event of disaster.



The red cross has also taken various steps in providing disaster preparedness in the case of an earthquake, tsunami, or fire. Each major city has implemented a comprehensive tsunami and earthquake strategy to ensure the safety of citizens. In the case of an earthquake or tsunami threat,  emergency personnel from the police and civil defense force have been trained to take immediate action to  to ensure the immediate evacuation of all persons from areas of potential impact. There are designated routes assigned to each municipality and most hotels etc have signage with maps of emergency escape routes.

Seven Fundamental Steps of Becoming an Expat

So you’ve decided to move abroad and live in a culture other than your own. Maybe you’ve landed a job in the country of your dreams or you’ve fallen in love and can’t wait to live with your significant other. Whatever your reasons for becoming a world citizen are, you need to make some decisions.

Let’s first assume that you know where you’re going, you’ve done your research about the place, you have your passport and know which type of visa you require to stay there, and you’ve provided for healthcare and insurance needs, necessary vaccinations and medications.

After slow-traveling for the last six years, we’ve learned a few good lessons, some the hard way. We’re sure expats before the age of the internet managed, but connectivity has been our tireless friend. Through local websites, blogs, Craigslist, and city forums on sites such as InterNations, we have found vital information about everything from finding apartments and groceries, to local transportation options, to activities and entertainment.

Now on to the list!

1. Going. Travel arrangements to your destination are the easy part, whether it’s by plane, train or another mode of transportation. Check with your airline! Some countries are picky about travelers with one-way flights and will require you to have a return ticket in order to get a visa. Decide what belongings you’re taking with you, if you’re storing anything or selling it all, and whether you’re shipping a car or furniture. We travel light and don’t have a home base, so what we carry in our two suitcases and carry-on bags is our home.

2. Arriving. Where you’ll be for the first few days and how you get there from the airport, train or bus station is important. You will feel an onslaught of newness, strangeness, and awe at your new surroundings while probably being jet-lagged. You’ll need to know how to find a taxi or local bus to take you to your landing place, be it a temporary hotel, hostel, apartment, rental home or your permanent home. Note: Grab some local cash at the first ATM you find.

3. Communications. Figure out the basics. If mail is a factor for you, consider a mail service company in your home country. We’ve had great experiences with Earth Class Mail for seven years. For cell service unlock your phone and get SIM cards in your new country or purchase phones. Internet connections are available almost everywhere, and most expats agree that staying in touch with family and friends is critical and helps minimize homesickness. Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Instagram and apps like WhatsApp are valuable tools. So find out how you’ll connect to the internet, and don’t forget your country-specific electrical adapters for your devices and appliances!

4. Finances. Whether you have or will look for a job, work remotely, or retire, research banking options in your new home. We work remotely so using a mail service, being able to deposit checks in our domestic bank and using ATMs has been crucial for us. Many expats maintain a bank account in their home country as well as one in their new home. But do your research about what it takes to open a local bank account.Note: Warnings about ATM use abound but you get the best exchange rate and we’ve never had a problem.

5. Connections. How will you connect with other expats, meet local residents, make friends and get grounded in your new home? While immersing yourself in your new culture, other expats are invaluable sources of information and help. Look for social meet-up groups or language exchanges and locate yoga classes, gyms, libraries, book clubs, or other places you can meet both locals and fellow expats.

6. Language. You’ll want and need to be able to communicate with people in your new home. Everything involves language. Gestures take you only so far. Obviously, language schools are everywhere or you can self-learn with CDs, podcasts, or local TV. No matter your ability level, just putting yourself out there and trying is well received by residents. In Buenos Aires for our long-term stay, we advertised on Craigslist and BANewcomers, a local newcomers group, to find our Spanish tutor who also became our friend. However you learn, you’ll be well rewarded for the time and effort you invest in learning the language.

7. Mindset. Enjoy your initial excitement and wonder, and carry it with you as you explore your new world. Jump in, and be open, trusting and patient. Living abroad is a unique exercise in mindfulness, being non-judgmental, embracing change and discovering more about yourself. Have fun, listen, smile! Keep a journal! Make a fool of and laugh at yourself. People are pretty much the same everywhere and they will laugh with you.

Betsy and Mark Blondin have been slow-traveling, living for extended periods of time in Latin America and Europe, for the past six years. They just published At Home Abroad: Today’s Expats Tell Their Stories, a collection inspired by the amazing expats they’ve met. They work remotely while traveling, Betsy as an editor and Mark as a data storage consultant.