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The Expat Chat: Lifestyle Travel and International Living

The Expat Chat is a weekday podcast where we interview inspiring expats who have thrown off the constraints of western congestion to enjoy their dream lifestyle in other parts of the world...often for a fraction of their cost of living back home. If you want the travels of Rick Stearn with the freedom of Tim Ferriss this podcast is for you.Subscribe today.
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The Expat Chat: Lifestyle Travel and International Living
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Nov 23, 2016

In today’s interview we speak with Martin and Lorena Cagnotti – two expat Argentinians who made the decision 13 years ago to move from their home town of Buenos Aires to the hubbub of Mexico City. After 7 years there they have now settled into the idyllic seaside community of Playa del Carmen where they are raising their two children through unschooling.

We met up with them to discuss living in one of the world’s largest cities, why they moved to Playa del Carmen and to talk about many of the myths and fears round home schooling and unschooling children and why they feel it has been the best thing for their development.

You can follow their adventures and ask them questions about living in Playa del Carmen at their website, http://thenomadicadventures.com . If you’re a family and into home exchanging with other families of similar age then check out their new home swapping website www.familyhomeexchange.com

What I learned from speaking with Martin and Lorena:

  1. Mexico City has an unfair reputation as an unsafe place to visit. The Cagnotti’s loved their time there and had no issues with safety. Mexico is a city of extremes in wealth and poverty yet all seem to live together side by side with no ill feeling or tension.
  2. Playa del Carmen offers a quieter lifestyle than the busier party town of Cancun only an hour away. If you’re after a slower pace of life it’s certainly an option with an increasing number of expat families and retirees settling there. Like any holiday town it has it’s tourists areas and local areas and it’s important to get out and about and explore beyond the beaches if looking to shift there (if you want to know more about Cancun check out our interview with Jen and Jay Kerwood)
  3. Unschooling is not about leaving your children to run amuck. It is really about letting them discover what they are interested in then showing them how to learn the relevant skills to help them. By understanding why they need to learn and how to practically apply it, it gives their learning more purpose and gives them a reason to learn.
  4. Unschooling or home schooling doesn’t mean your children are outside the curriculum indefinitely. In Mexico they are still able to pass exams that allow them to tick the right boxes for further education and as Lainie Liberti also spoke about more and more colleges and universities are accepting children who have been raised in an unschooled environment.
  5. As Alyson Long and Andrew and Daryl Grant will also testify to unschooling or home schooling does not leave your children lacking for social interaction. The Cagnotti kids still attend classes in art and music and interact more often with other children who are being home schooled or unschooled than they would have done in the classroom environment. They love what unschooling has offered them and wouldn’t change what they are doing.
Nov 17, 2016

Not all expats move to cut costs and living the expat life doesn’t have to mean living on the smell of an oily rag. Today’s interviewees have transformed their lives from management consultants slogging the 9 to 5 and longer, to internet marketing experts who have built themselves a digital empire and given themselves the lifestyle and freedom they’ve always wanted.

In 2013 Andrew and Daryl Grant left the Gold Coast, Australia to enjoy the benefits of Bangkok, taking their two pre-teen children into a new way of living that an online business gives them the freedom to pursue.

Today we discuss with them why they love Bangkok, how home schooling their children has provided them with a better education than they would have received in school, and they share some of the secrets of how they built their own online businesses.

You can get some great advice on starting your own online business from their website resources at www.ourinternetsecrets.com

What I learned from speaking with Andrew and Daryl:

  1. Although Bangkok has a pretty good transportation system the Grants have mastered the art of driving locally and purchased a car. It has enabled them to travel much further than the BTS system would allow them and they feel they’ve got to know the city much better for it.
  2. Bangkok is interesting in the sense that it acts like a series of villages. The way locals interact with each other - and the Grants - displays the sort of small town feel that a city of this size normally wouldn’t have
  3. Daryl feels incredibly safe there, more so than in Australia, and has no qualms about allowing her 15 and 13 year old to travel around the city on their own
  4. They have found by home schooling the kids they get the opportunity to offer them so much more than a standard curriculum. Travel among other things is a big part of their education and the children have enjoyed some unique experiences they would never get in the classroom.
  5. They shared some great advice for building an online business including choosing a niche that you can be the expert in, setting up a business with continuity where you can be paid over and over for your services, and be persistent if you want results
Nov 9, 2016

Many people we interview have life changing moments that serve as the catalyst to their new life abroad. For Dalene and Pete Heck it was a series of tragedies including the death of Pete’s mother and Dalene’s sister passing in her early 30’s that prompted the two Alberta, Canada natives that it was time to make the most of the time they had on this planet. They had been avid travelers during the holidays they had taken but their corporate jobs served as a restriction to the real time and energy they wanted to put in.

In 2009 they hit the road starting in Bolivia and covering much of South America. Since then they have built one of the world’s biggest travel brands and work with many media companies helping them use the travel environment and travel bloggers to build awareness online.

You can check out their journey (and Pete’s wonderful pictures) at http://www.hecktictravels.com

What I learned from speaking with Dalene:

  1. It’s interesting how Pete and Dalene don’t get tied into doing things that might make them more money but they don’t enjoy. They are aware that building their online business and being a travel blogger is a long term journey and that they need to do what is their passion so it doesn’t become a chore.
  2. Like Nat and Jodie these guys are also a fan of Nomador for finding housesitting gigs. They find it more personable and easier to deal with than some of the larger sites where it is harder to get good housesitting gigs. Again it’s about building a reputation and once you have it things get easier.
  3. Travel is about people. Their experience with the locals in Roatan where they were eventually asked to become god-parents to one of the local villagers – that’s the sort of special experience that money can’t buy. If you want to know more about Roatan check out our interview with Rika Purdey
  4. The world is not what the media portray. Dalene was very passionate about her experiences of countries, particularly Turkey, where the kindness of locals can be vastly different to the way the world is seen in the news. ( For more on Turkey check out Leonard Durso’s interview)
Oct 27, 2016

Trying to stay healthy on the road can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare – you’re pushed for time, you’re in a strange environment with no common reference points or places to eat and you’re at your most vulnerable when energy levels get low and stress might get high.

Today’s guest is Karen Wojciechowski who knows first-hand the difficulties of taking care of yourself as an expat traveler. She’s left her native habitat in Perth Australia with her husband and after a stint in Canada is now living the digital nomad lifestyle in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she has established her website www.realenergyfood.com offering advice and consultation on healthy eating.

We caught up with Karen where she talks about her experiences as an expat traveler and shares with us 7 tips for taking good care of yourself while you are traveling.

You’ll find Karen’s Facebook group where you can share advice and get tips at https://www.facebook.com/groups/realenergyfood

 

What I learned from Karen’s interview:

  1. Drink lots of water. This may seem simple but is probably most people’s biggest let down. It can help reduce hunger pains and keep dehydration at bay. Particularly important if you have just changed climates from cold to warm and your body is still adjusting
  2. Choose your meal. Determine when you will be naughty or overindulge and be good for the rest of the day around it. Also don’t think if you make an unhealthy start you might as well write the day off by continuing to eat badly. You can soon balance the day out again
  3. Bring your own snacks. This not only helps with costs (especially in more expensive countries) but gives you that most important element of all control. If you can control your snacks you will resist the urge to grab anything on the go
  4. It doesn’t have to be long but just do something. Walking a new city you are in is not just a great way to see it but to get that exercise in. Karen has a step counter and can easily manage 30,000 strides while looking around. Keep your exercise shoes packed to make it easier and look out for some of those great 7 minute exercise apps that are available, and check out free fitness classes in new towns which might present different cultural experiences.
  5. Do meditation. This can help rebalance and destress you. Even just a few minutes helps. There are always travel downtime waiting for transport etc when you can manage a quick meditation. Again there are great apps that can help.
  6. Google healthy eating options before you go. It’s better to go armed with information that again gives you control then arriving uninformed and going in an unhealthy direction. Ask the locals who can also help you out when you arrive.
  7. Make health a priority. If you don’t focus on eating well and exercising each day it can soon get out of hand. If you make it a priority you have a better chance of getting the results you want and enjoying your travels more.
Oct 27, 2016

Heading: Traveling the World Without Flying; Di and Dave Taunton

Today’s guests haven’t gone anywhere yet…but they are about to! Di and Dave Taunton are only a few days away from their expat adventure. The catalyst for their nomadic lifestyle was a serious car accident Dave had 12 years ago. Re-evaluating life the two of them headed overseas with their children on a 5 year journey but 2 years in they decided they needed to return to give their children some normalcy.

Dave still felt he had unfinished business and with the kids now grown up he has persuaded Di that it’s time to hit the road again while they can.

Their journey is to tour the world without airplane using cruises and ferries to cross waterways. Starting in Bali they will work their way around much of Asia over the next 3-4 months before heading further afield.

We caught up with them to discuss the planning process to their trip and the fears concerns and excitement that they have about the journey ahead.

You can follow their fresh adventures at http://www.meanderingwanderers.com/

What I learned from Di and Dave’s interview:

  1. I loved Di’s spreadsheet idea of having somewhere to throw all the information that you learn about as you go. I’ve been guilty of seeing or reading about somewhere interesting then promptly forgetting about it so I’m now setting up my spreadsheet. Thanks Di!
  2. There is some great online resources. Di mentioned Trip Advisor of course but the Man in seat 61 is another great one if you are planning to travel by plane or ferry. There are other alternatives to flying and as the Mundells and Chuck and Lori Ros have found there are some great one way cruise deals that can be had for the price of an airfare.
  3. Getting advice from others is a great way to not only gather information but be inspired. Di and Dave credit many bloggers for the inspiration and advice they have provided.
  4. Planning is great in the early part of your trip, especially to give you confidence that you have a roof over your head. Many of our longer term travelers do this less as they go on and realize that short term plans can also work just as well. We’ve found hosting couchsurfers is interesting as most people contact you only a day or two prior to arriving. This seems strange for an over-planner like myself but I understand once you hit the road that you soon get used to it.
  5. Before deciding you can’t live the expat lifestyle ask yourself why and give yourself 5 reasons why you can’t do it. The barriers may not be as real as you think.

 

Oct 19, 2016

Show Notes – An Uncluttered Life; Warren and Betsy Talbot

One of the first steps in any journey to become an expat is getting rid of the clutter – be it physical or mental – that is part and parcel of any home and any life.

The first step on this journey is having clarity in what you want and what you need in order to achieve it, then eliminating the surplus that sucks your time and energy; be it items, issues or relationships.

Today via livestream Blab we speak with Warren and Betsy Talbot of www.anunclutteredlife.com about their journey towards an uncluttered life from their former stressed corporate lifestyles, how to focus on what you should eliminate from your life and the simple steps to saying no that can release you from the guilt that others might put upon you (or you upon yourself)

If you’re seeking more clarity and less clutter in your life I urge you to check out their Clarity Clinic program at http://clarityclinic.anunclutteredlife.com/ref/12/

If you’d like to join our live stream interviews where you can ask questions via your keyboard check out our page at https://blab.im/theexpatchat and follow us for updates on future livestream interviews.

What I learned from Warren and Betsy:

  1. Uncluttering your life doesn’t have to mean minimalism. Each person’s definition is different and if having a big house is still part of your plans don’t feel you need to give up on it. Warren doesn’t have a mobile – this is part of their definition but doesn’t have to be yours. Do what works for you.
  2. Happiness is not about adding more to your life but taking things away. We all have habits we have created, many of which don’t serve us but we still do them. Even taking little steps can be a good start. Change the way you go to work for example. Question everything you do, everything you spend and everyone you deal with and whether they are there from habit or there on merit.

I love their way of saying No! Don’t say “sure” if someone asks a favor until you know what you are getting yourself into. Be clear in saying no but add “this time” after it so you’re not completely closing the door – and offer an alternative solution that works for you and still helps keep the other party happy

Oct 13, 2016

Shawna Sharee was first inspired to live a wandering lifestyle when she read the book Eat, Pray, Love. Like many she dreamed of travel but thought she needed a lot of money to do it.

It wasn’t until she joined an online program for woman entrepreneurs that she discovered there were others living the life she wanted – and it was the motivation to change her own life. Despite a pay raise that threatened to tempt her away from her dream she set herself the task of ending a toxic relationship and visiting the world. Starting with no plan in mind (and still largely flying by the seat of her pants) she has journeyed through France and the Middle East to her current location of Chiang Mai Thailand where she has embraced the true digital lifestyle of the area.

We caught up with Shawna to discuss the impact the people she surrounded herself with have had on her decision and how positive thinking has allowed her to overcome any hurdles she encounters

You can follow her blog at www.shawnasharee.com and get her travel tips and hints at www.curioushappyfree.com

What I learned from this interview:

  1. I loved Shawna’s saying that smiling is a universal language. Like many others we have spoken with she has been delighted by the kindness of strangers and it’s a timely reminder that everyone is an individual with a desire to be liked.
  2. Skyscanner is a favorite booking site for Shawna and we love it too. It gives you the flexibility to choose the cheapest flights to any location and on any date that most other sites don’t offer.
  3. You don’t need to commit long term to a place until you’ve tried it. Short term accommodation through AirBNB or Couchsurfing can be had and, although short term rentals can be dearer it will often give you the lay of the land before you commit
  4. Shawna is a great lesson in surrounding yourself with positive influences. She draws on so many mentors and coaches to provide her with the strength and belief to follow her dreams and it’s true that your journey is directly related to who you spend the most time with. She is a great believer in things working out so far they have!
Oct 6, 2016

Katya Sarmiento’s time in college certainly gave her a well-rounded education. She embarked on a number of options including air traffic control before realizing a life of travel and entrepreneurship was her true passion. She dropped out of college, quit her part-time job and started her own online business intent on building her future.

Through online contacts and Facebook groups she built relationships and helped others. In return they offered her a place to stay when she visited. She soon realized that the sharing world of digital entrepreneurs not only provided her with knowledge and friendship but new places to call home.

She now spends most of her time traversing America attending events and hooking up with her digital buddies. Her accommodation is largely free and she gets to experience new locations like a local.

We interviewed Katya back home in Miami over the holidays where we discussed her decision to leave traditional education, what life is like as a “digital homeless” and how we need to learn to accept the generosity of others or risk depriving them of the feelings of helping a fellow human.

Apr 7, 2016

 You might like the idea of an RV holiday for a couple of weeks – but how about living permanently in a van? For Drew and Brittany Neumann the decision to quit their L.A. apartment for a new life on the road was an easy one. Their adventure so far has taken them all over the U.S.A in the last 12 months and with their recent wedding behind them the adventurous couple are now heading for a new van life in the Europe.

We caught up with them in Florida making last minute wedding plans ahead of their next adventure and discovered their lifestyle, how van life has given them freedom without much of the everyday costs of living and how to find great places to camp for little or no money.

You can follow their journey, catch up with their social media channels and find out more about Brittany’s book Heartfully Healed at their website www.mrandmrsadventure.com

 

What I learned from Drew and Brittany:

  1. Set your goals before you start. Like Kyle Brady and Olivia Gould these guys set some goals and timeframes around what they wanted which made it easier and clearer to reach their objective.
  2. As Brittany likes to say when one door closes another one opens. Their original plans of teaching English in South East Asia were modified by the opportunity to borrow a family members van and do some touring. A new opportunity was born and vanning became their new preferred alternative.
  3. Putting yourself out there creates chances in so many ways. Their chance meeting with friends of John Lee Dumas led to an invite to an interview on his podcast show, one of the largest on the internet (which will be airing soon) and the opportunity to lift their blog to a whole new level. Their chance meeting with a Canadian musician has led to him joining their wedding to perform a unique twist on their wedding song. These things don’t happen by chance!
  4. Vanning is the ultimate relationship test. It might not suit everybody but can be a great way to find out how your relationship copes with confined spaces.

 

Mar 31, 2016

For many people living in a place that is 99% Muslim, in a city of over 15 million people with Syria on your border and 2 million refugees pouring into your country – this would be well outside your comfort zone. For Leonard Durso it’s just another experience of life in Turkey.

After becoming dissatisfied with life in Academia (see Claudia Tavani interview) Leonard moved permanently to Turkey in 2010 and has come to love the people, the lifestyle and the affordability of the country known as the crossroads between Europe and Asia. In this fascinating interview he shares his experiences of Turkish hospitality, the affordability of his adopted home, and why he isn’t troubled by the recent events in his neighboring countries.

You can find out more about Leonards life at his blog http://leonarddurso.com

What I learned from speaking with Leonard:

  1. Istanbul ranks higher on the affordability scale especially if living on the Asian side. Leonard has a 3 bedroom 150 sqm apartment with views of the Bosphorus for around $US600 per month - a snip compared to what the same would cost him back home
  2. Despite the proximity of unrest in neighboring Syria and the large number of refugees entering the country Leonard feels safe and at home. The people have been courteous and welcoming to him which has only served to raise the already high opinion he has of Turkish people before he moved
  3. Being an expat has enabled to understand what it’s like to be the “ other” – the minority in a majority country. It is a unique perspective that we should all learn to experience at some stage
  4. Leonard’ s experiences only serves to underline a common theme that comes through with many of the people we interview. That the view of the world that the media portrays doesn’t necessarily represent the truth and that we are guilty of grossly over generalizing about groups in society who are really no different in their wants, needs and priorities than we are.
Mar 14, 2016

Living an Expat lifestyle and leaving the 9 to 5 routine doesn’t necessarily meaning not exploring your own country as part of the journey. For Alabama native Kyle Brady and his partner Olivia Gould their old lives left them feeling trapped and not going anywhere. They had a desire to see more of their own country – Olivia hadn’t even seen a mountain prior to going!

The couple started their planning in September 2014 and after 12 months of downsizing and saving up (they set aside $300 per week by, amongst other things, not eating out) they hit the road with their renovated 16 foot RV and haven’t looked back. As Olivia rightly said, “Why live somewhere when you can live everywhere!”

We caught up with them at Slab City California where they detailed the process of their planning and preparation and how their Etsy store is able to provide them with enough income to sustain their monthly journey.

You can follow their blog at www.drivinandvibin.com and check out their Etsy store at https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheWoodenEarth   

What I learned from Kyle and Olivia’s interview:

  1. Having a vision board (this worked for John and Monika Mundell as well) is a great way to focus on the outcome you want and can be a wonderful reminder when things get tough as to why you are saving money or throwing out that old dress you used to love. It helped having the extra incentive of a free pizza from their friends but is an exercise worth doing yourselves.
  2. You can RV with a dog. Although they are restricted from taking their pet into national parks they can generally find somewhere that will mind him for the day while they head off on a trip
  3. Check out Etsy as an option for funding your new lifestyle. Like Micah and Jenna Kvidt these guys have found the online world can help fund their lifestyle – in fact the $2000 per month they are making will cover their total costs.
  4. If looking to go the Rv route there is a wealth of online information available to help you and Kyle and Olivia have found a supportive network on the road as well. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when others have the answers for you
  5. You can work RVing to your budget. These guys spend mostly on camping and food however there are places you can camp for free and they are self-sufficient with cooking. They can slow the speed of travel to save on gas.
  6. You don’t have to leave the country to enjoy an expat lifestyle. Like Chuck and Lori Ros and Heath Padgett Kyle and Olivia have learned to appreciate what their own country has to offer. Every country is an expat community to somebody!
Mar 14, 2016

 Leon Logothetis was a London stockbroker working in the city. On the outside he had it all but on the inside he felt miserable and depressed. His future looked set in stone until one day he watched an inspirational movie called the Motorcycle Diaries and he realized that his future was not going to improve unless he changed. Inspired he headed off on an adventure to travel the world spreading kindness along the way.

Leon has gone on to visit over 90 countries and inspire thousands with his books and television series including Amazing Adventures of a Nobody and The Kindness Diaries. His work tabling the generosity of others has featured on CNN, Good Morning America and television and newspaper around the world.

We caught up with Leon where he shares his philosophy on kindness and tells us some of the incredible people he has encountered on his journey. You can check out what Leon is up to on his website http://www.leonlogothetis.com

 

What I learned from talking to Leon:

  1. Bhutan measures its national happiness…shouldn’t all countries do that! Im not sure how they measure it but the fact that they do is a big head start for me. Better put it on my list of places to visit.
  2. We talk often on the show about how travel confirms we are more similar than we think. We also are often amazed at the generosity of others while traveling and Leon’s adventures confirm this. His stories are uplifting and a tribute to humanity. Sometimes we do get the formula right.
  3. Small acts of kindness can leverage into greater benefits to all. Leons story of the homeless man in Denver who offered him shelter led to a $60,000 crowdfunding campaign for the man and the opportunity to leverage the generosity to a higher level.
  4. Trust your 6th sense for danger. This is your body’s intuition and shouldn’t be ignored. Travel is one the best ways to develop this sense further.
Mar 1, 2016

From Greeks Islands to the Emerald Isles; Our Family Sabbatical in Greece and Ireland

Tina Lavelle had traveled Europe when she was younger, and the urge to return had never left. Her husband Ralph had grown up in Ireland and both felt a desire to leave their suburban Australia lifestyle for some freedom abroad. In 2015 they packed up their two children, rented out their home and firstly headed to the Greek island of Zakynthos where they enjoyed 4 sun filled months before heading for Dublin where they are now settled in.

We joined Tina to discuss the process of schooling her children locally in both countries, how accommodation sharing sites like Couchsurfing and Helpx have provided them with much more than saving money and how you can self publish a book of your adventures while away.

You can check out their blog at http://kouklahouse.com where you’ll find their book “ On a Greek Island; A Season in Zakynthos”

What I learned from talking with Tina:

  1. Kids are so adaptable when it comes to schooling. Tina’s children have spent time both in Greek school and now in Irish ones during their journey. Like the Wagoners , Scarlett Thomas and Danna Bowman they found their children can adapt quickly to a new environment in local schools
  2. If you’re looking to earn a little money from your adventure then why not write a book and self-publish? Tina’s husband has written a story of their life on the Greek island of Zakynthos and published via Amazon. Although not likely to fund your entire journey it can provide a small top up in income. Check out our interview with Virginie Carmichael who has also self-published several books
  3. Couchsurfing has been a great way to get around and get to know cultures. Even as a family of four they have been able to enjoy the benefits of local hospitality. They have also used Helpx – another unique accommodation sharing site where people can trade accommodation for work. This allows them to stay longer than couchsurfing.

 

 

Feb 29, 2016

Tommy Walker grew up in the north of England with stories of travel and adventure as a part of his life. With many relatives living overseas and an Uncle who had shared his stories of traveling in South East Asia Tommy had long held the goal of seeing more of the world for himself.

Just over 3 years ago he headed off on an adventure to Thailand that was only supposed to be for 3 months. Hooked by the experience he explored much of Asia and Australia for a year and then spent 12 months traveling around South America including visiting Brazil during the World Cup.

We caught up with him in his new short term home of Melbourne ahead of his 2016 adventures which will include Central America. We discuss the short term financial sacrifices a backpacker has to make, what it was like to mountain bike the world’s most dangerous road and how having too many expectations can be a downer for your overseas adventure.

You can follow Tommy’s blog at www.thewanderingwalker.com

 

What I learned from talking to Tommy:

  1. Tommy’s trip to Paraguay showed him that listening to other travelers is not always the answer. He loves heading off the beaten track and can always find something worth seeing in every country he visits
  2. He is willing to work long hours when he needs to as he knows it provides him with much needed funds and a longer period of time on the road. Much like Tomislav Perko a little bit of time sacrificed to a job can provides months of travel experiences later.

Being a backpacker works best if you’re a social creature who likes to talk to people but don’t worry if you aren’t; the process of travel helped bring Tommy out of his shell and it would be fair to say it may just do the same for you. As Tommy said travel finally allowed him to be himself and it may just be the same for you

Feb 22, 2016

To many parents the idea of raising children in an underdeveloped African nation would seem scary. For Sara Sullivan it’s just another adventure in a life that has seen her explore new boundaries both personally and professionally.

The mother of two has followed up time in Pakistan with starting a family in the Southern African nation where she lives with her family in the capital of Gabarone.

Today she joins us to share her experiences of the Botswanan culture, how she raises her children in a foreign environment and how living the expat life can provide you with some very tangible benefits.

You can follow Sara’s adventures in Botswana at her blog http://outland-ish.com

What I learned from Sara’s interview:

  1. There is such a huge perception at the moment that westerners are hated in Muslim countries. This is simply not the case. Although Sara did see some anti American signage during her time in Pakistan she was treated very well and with great interest by the locals. Our opinions are shaped by the media who allow the actions of an extreme few be representative of the silent majority when it simply isn’t the case.
  2. If you have safari on your mind then maybe skip the more traditional Kenyan or South African options and look at Botswana. The Okavango delta is world famous for the range and amount of wildlife there and the experience is meant to be well worth it.
  3. Botswana sounds like a meat lover’s paradise! Cows are highly regarded and a staple part of the diet. It’s a long way to go for a steak but you’ll find them far more affordable than back home.
Feb 19, 2016

Kay Dougherty was a successful well paid but stressed high heeled member of the Boston financial establishment when the financial crisis hit in 2008 and her company chose to downsize. In her mid 50’s Kay found getting a new job to be a challenge. Always a lover of travel she discovered a new role as a marketing consultant which paid the bills and have her increased freedom to travel more.

Her travel blog of her adventures with her sister drew attention thanks to Kays contagious humor and led to a large social media following which opened up opportunities for Kay to enjoy sponsored trips from travel companies.

Nearly 4 years on Kay is able to travel 3-4 months per year but is on the brink of expanding herself further and devoting more time to travel and earning an online income from it. In this interview she shares her take on becoming a travel writer, travelling safely as a woman and what young people should consider before jumping into an expat travel lifestyle.

If you want travel stories with a sense of humor you’ll love following Kay on http://blondebrunettetravel.com

What I learned from Kay’s interview:

  1. It does take a lot of followers to make a living from travel blogging. Kay freely admits that despite having a large following on social media circles it’s no guarantee of income. She does get a lot of complementary travel opportunities however and that is certainly a perk worth having!
  2. Kay raised a very good point about safety. A lot is written about the dangers of traveling overseas however most trouble spots in foreign countries are easy to identify and stay clear of – more so than is becoming the case in western countries where outbreaks of violence or terrorism are more random.
  3. Kay’s development into travel writing was quite slow. She initially went from an employment situation where her limited holidays were an add-on to her work schedule to a consulting situation (admittedly not of her own choice) where she was able to plan her holidays first and fit her consulting around it. This has enabled her to find her feet, increase her travel experiences, build some key relationships with travel boards, cruise ship companies and other travel providers, and develop her blog to the point where she now has a platform to develop a larger income stream and travel more.
Feb 2, 2016

If you’re a stressed out business owner working 60-80 hour weeks and dreaming of a life of travel take heart – so was Nicole Connolly. The former Brisbanite ran a successful business but like many we interview, she felt something was missing from her life – mainly travel and the freedom to enjoy herself.

She set out 4 years ago on an adventure with her husband Mike, initially relying on savings but soon built herself an online business helping others – firstly with their social media, but more recently teaching others to build a successful online business like the one she now has.

We caught up with Nicole in the Bahamas where she shares her journey and provides the step by step process to starting an online business yourself.

You can check out Nicole’s story at www.suitcasestories.com or find out how to build your own online business at http://quitthecubicle.co/details

 

What I learned from Nicole:

  1. Imagine the worst that can happen and if you can handle it then go ahead! In Nicole’s case she always believed that if the travel lifestyle didn’t work out she could always head for home again
  2. You don’t need higher education to be successful. Nicole is proof of that having left secondary school after only two years. She has taught herself through course and learnings what she needs to know rather than relying on “recognized” education.
  3. It’s important to set your goals before deciding what business is right for you. Do you want to be location independent? Is the money important or the lifestyle? Making these decisions can help avoid pain later if you’ve gone down a path that doesn’t match your objectives.
Jan 26, 2016

One of the first steps in any journey to become an expat is getting rid of the clutter – be it physical or mental – that is part and parcel of any home and any life.

The first step on this journey is having clarity in what you want and what you need in order to achieve it, then eliminating the surplus that sucks your time and energy; be it items, issues or relationships.

Today via livestream Blab we speak with Warren and Betsy Talbot of www.anunclutteredlife.com about their journey towards an uncluttered life from their former stressed corporate lifestyles, how to focus on what you should eliminate from your life and the simple steps to saying no that can release you from the guilt that others might put upon you (or you upon yourself)

If you’re seeking more clarity and less clutter in your life I urge you to check out their Clarity Clinic program at http://clarityclinic.anunclutteredlife.com/ref/12/

If you’d like to join our live stream interviews where you can ask questions via your keyboard check out our page at https://blab.im/theexpatchat and follow us for updates on future livestream interviews.

What I learned from Warren and Betsy:

  1. Uncluttering your life doesn’t have to mean minimalism. Each person’s definition is different and if having a big house is still part of your plans don’t feel you need to give up on it. Warren doesn’t have a mobile – this is part of their definition but doesn’t have to be yours. Do what works for you.
  2. Happiness is not about adding more to your life but taking things away. We all have habits we have created, many of which don’t serve us but we still do them. Even taking little steps can be a good start. Change the way you go to work for example. Question everything you do, everything you spend and everyone you deal with and whether they are there from habit or there on merit.
  3. I love their way of saying No! Don’t say “sure” if someone asks a favor until you know what you are getting yourself into. Be clear in saying no but add “this time” after it so you’re not completely closing the door – and offer an alternative solution that works for you and still helps keep the other party happy
Jan 18, 2016

Well they say love can make you do things you don’t expect. For Andrea Gomez the prospect of moving from her home in Colombia to the Netherlands was not something she had expected growing up in Bogota!

Andrea moved to be with her Dutch boyfriend around 8 months ago - to a small village near the border with Germany, and is slowly getting used to European life including climate changes that she never had to deal with before.

In today’ s interview Andrea talks about what she loves about the Dutch way of life and the process she went through to gain her residency. She also discussed how she was able to start not one but two online businesses with no previous experience.

 

What I learned from speaking with Andrea:

  1. If you are looking to become a Dutch resident brush up on your language skills. This is a requirement for initial residency and then again, with more advanced skills, when seeking a longer term residency. Andrea initially had to travel in and out of Holland for 90 day periods at a time until her initial paperwork was passed.
  2. What hidden talents have you not exploited? Andrea knew she had some talent as an artist but it took the expat experience to bring it out of her – and develop a surprising little business that probably wouldn’t have started had she stayed in Colombia.
  3. Shifting is a wonderful time to break out of your old mental barriers – many of which are self-imposed. No one knows you and no one cares. It’s a liberating time to explore things about yourself you may never have discovered.
  4. Cycling is the way to go in Holland. The flat countryside lends itself to it and bikes take priority over all other modes of transport meaning accidents are relatively rare.
Jan 18, 2016

Cambodia offers its visitors a land of contrasts. Larger cities like Phnom Penh are fast developing a western style with many of the fast food chains setting up shop. But head to rural Cambodia and you take a step back in time to a place where life is a lot simpler.

One person enjoying the benefits of Cambodian village life is Kirsty Thorpe, an Australian teacher who has been volunteering with a child rescue organization a couple of hours from Phnom Penh.

In todays interview Kirsty shares what she loves about Cambodia, how she came to be involved in helping these young people and what you need to be wary of if you plan on volunteering overseas.

You can find out more on Kirsty blog at https://cambodianlife2015.wordpress.com

 

What I learned from Kirsty’s interview:

  1. It amazes me the attitude of people who have been through so much. Cambodia lost up to an estimated 3 million people -almost 25% of the population - to Pol Pot’s oppressive regime yet the people are consistently ranked amongst the warmest you can find.
  2. Again South East Asia gets top marks for safety. We’ve interviewed a number of women including Alice Nettleingham who consistently tell us how safe they find it and Cambodia is no exception.
  3. If you plan on volunteering ask where the money goes. Many organizations are honorable but there are others who are profiteering majorly from their efforts. Talk to those in charge, determine if the costs are relative to where you are going and make sure you get full disclosure on where the money ends up. If it goes to the community great, but in many cases administration charges can be inflated.
  4. Would your career benefit from the experience of volunteering? As a teacher Kirsty has been able to further her professional development through her teaching there. Perhaps your job could provide a similar opportunity?
Jan 18, 2016

Steven Courtney was no experienced traveler. In fact the 22 year old hadn’t even known what a youth hostel was when he made his first trip across the US on a work trip. He discovered a whole new world of multiple languages and adventure that he had to be part of.

From that point forward the standard two week holiday was spent experiencing the world but limited time wasn’t enough and he knew he needed more.

4 years ago he took the plunge to becoming a fulltime traveler and hasn’t looked back. You’ll enjoy this interview with Steven – his passion hasn’t diminished from his time on the road – in fact he is more amazed and curious the longer he travels.

Steven shares his journeys via periscope and you can check him out there at http://www.perisearch.net/user/Travel_Visions or http://www.perisearch.net/user/Guyz_TV

 

What I learned from Steven:

  1. Working part of the year is often enough to fund the rest of the years travels. Like Brendan Lee and Tomislav Perko Steven was able to fund a good period of the year (9 months) from just 3 months of working in Australia
  2. If you’re looking for somewhere different to visit check out Tonga. As Steven says it often appears on lists as one of the least visited countries in the world but he has had one of his most magical experiences there. The people are friendly and you can experience the sort of lifestyle unlike what you might find elsewhere.
  3. Don’t dismiss traveling alone as an option. Many people told Steven to try it this way before he left and he was initially reluctant but loves the flexibility it affords him. There are pluses and minuses of traveling alone or with others and you need to find what works for you.
  4. Steven’s method of travel has evolved as he has gone on. Initially moving constantly he has now settled into a system where he will base himself in a hub and go out for journeys from there, returning to the hub when required. This gives him more of a base, some familiarity and reduces the need to cart everything with him every couple of days.
Jan 13, 2016

Not everyone plans a move overseas. For Samantha Wei it was meeting her partner Yeison, a Costa Rican native,that was the catalyst for her move there from the United States 3 years ago. After an initial period of settling in she now considers Costa Rica to be home and has made a new life, and a very successful online business since moving there.

We caught up with Samantha to discuss the process of adapting to a new country and culture, the relative merits of the two towns she has mainly live in Jaco, and El Coco and how they differ to city life in San Jose, and some of the myths around moving to Costa Rica (not everything is as cheap as you think).

You can find out more and grab a copy of Samantha and Yeison’s free e-book “Travel and Discover Costa Rica” via their blog www.mytanfeet.com

What I learned from speaking with Samantha:

  1. Sometimes learning a language can be easier learning with someone else than with a local. They tend to speak slower and are more patient with you as they are in the same situation
  2. Although Costa Rica is cheaper in many ways there are things you need to be aware that are more expensive than the US. Gas is dearer as is purchasing vehicles, and you will be charged an annual tax on the value of your vehicle even if you bring your old car in with you. Some food such as cheese and meat can also be dear as are electronic goods. If visiting home it can sometimes be a good idea to load up on things you can’t find affordably while living there
  3. Internet can be a problem and is also quite expensive. Samantha found however that having a portable hotspot was cheaper than normal internet and gave her the chance to work from anywhere – including the beach!
  4. Healthcare is generally pretty good. You may be looking at paying out of pocket which is cheaper than the US but if you choose to become a resident you may qualify for the government’s monthly healthcare package of around $40.
  5. $US are widely accepted in most places but if you have other currencies you will need to switch to Costa Ricans colones.
  6. Costa Rica has 26 different micro-climates, something for everyone. It doesn’t matter where you are you will only be a few hours away from a temperature and conditions that will suit you!
  7. Check out our other interviews with Danna Bowman and Dan Gaskell for their perspective on living in Costa Rica.
Jan 13, 2016

Part of the enjoyment of another countries culture is exploring the food options. You can discover so much about a country and really discover the rich flavors that are available in each region that are unique to the area.

Two travelers on a quest to uncover the world’s finest foods are Rosemary Kimani and Claire Rouger. The couple left their corporate positions in the U.S. in August 2015 and their journey so far has helped them find the finer detail of food in Uruquay, Argentina and now Chile where we caught up with them in downtown Santiago.

You can check out their tips and free guides at their blog http://authenticfoodquest.com

What I learned from speaking with Rosemary and Claire:

  1. Air BNB can provide you not only with accommodation but a chance to have locals show you their local knowledge
  2. Be wary of inflation in Argentina – they are noticing prices change while they were there and found many costs to be considerably higher than travel books and blogs had stated at an earlier time. They are using trail wallet and are keeping costs to around $US2500 per month so far
  3. One of the best ways to discover local food is to visit the local food market when first arriving in town and you will see what’s available. Talk to the stall owners as they will be eager to share their local delicacies with you
  4. Be aware of eating safely on the road. They recommend checking that the cashier handling is separate to the food preparation, that the stall is kept busy and food is turned over, and they carry their own utensil (fork at one end spoon at the other) if they are concerned about utensil hygiene.
  5. Like Chris Stevens these guys have opened a Charles Schwab account. You can use any ATM anywhere and Schwab will reimburse you the other banks fees. This can add up if making frequent withdrawals.
Jan 13, 2016

Would you buy a winery if you knew nothing about wine? What about if there was no one there who could show you and the winery had been in liquidation? Add to it the fact that you were moving to a strange country where you weren’t fluent in the language and had to deal with local business practices that can be challenging and it sounds like a recipe for disaster!

10 years on from their move to France expat South Africans Caro and Sean Feely have developed a working winery and are loving life in the Saussignac region, around an hour from Bordeaux.

Caro joined us to discuss life in France, the challenges of starting a new business in an industry you’ve never been involved in and how the recent tragedy in Paris has affected the people of France.

You can find out more about Feely Wines and Caro’s books at www.feelywines.com

What I learned from speaking with Caro:

  1. Sometimes following your passion does work out. Despite the odds against them these two have made their passion work and are now grateful for the new life they have.
  2. Aren’t neighbors wonderful! Without the support of surrounding wine growers (who might be viewed as competition) Caro and Sean would probably never have succeeded with their venture
  3. Sean and Caro were able to use their Irish residency as a back door to France. It is relatively easy to become an Irish citizen if descended from one. This is a second passport option I’m exploring myself as it provides easy long term access to much of Europe. I’ll be sharing my experiences of applying for my Irish passport in an upcoming issue of The Expat Chat magazine.
Jan 12, 2016

For Karen McCann and her husband the prospect of early retirement left them feeling a little bored. They had always been avid travelers and a visit to Seville in Spain convinced them that it would be the perfect place to start a new life.

They moved with their dog in 2004 and have loved life there ever since. Karen’s past career as a journalist has led her on to becoming a successful travel writer with two of her travel books already achieving No 1 status on Amazon. The couples experiments in travel – including a nomadic journey through the railways of Europe and a journey they made completely without luggage have allowed them to embrace their new lifestyle and do things they would never have done back home.

We caught up with Karen to discuss the process of moving, life in Seville and how becoming an expat allows you the freedom to truly enjoy yourself.

You’ll find details of Karen’s books and her blog at her website http://www.enjoylivingabroad.com

What I learned from Karen’s interview:

  1. Be prepared for paperwork if moving to Spain. They are experts in it! The McCanns have to regularly renew their visas and do find that things may differ between what the internet tells them and what they might find out when they get to the consulate. This is the Spanish way of life and you need to embrace it. Make sure you start your visa process in your own country before leaving to allow more time
  2. Be willing to try before you buy into it permanently. The McCanns rented their Cleveland home for six months to make sure they were happy in Seville before returning to sell up. Being clear on what you want is important as you will feel some emotional pull during the process and you need to keep reminding yourself of your objective.
  3. It’s not difficult to relocate pets. The McCanns were able to move their dog reasonably easily with them but be conscious of their new environment and whether it is a large contrast to what they are used to and if they will be happy there.
  4. Spain is a step back to a more simpler time. Siestas are still the way in the southern regions and house calls by doctors are still quite common! The Spanish love the family environment and for many westerners moving it’s the return to the simpler life that often brings back memories and has the greatest appeal.
  5. Don’t overpack! I love the experiments these guys do and their journey without luggage sounds like fun. It’s interesting to know however that not having nightwear is the one thing that a luggage-less traveler will struggle without!
  6. For about life in Spain check out our interviews with Molly Piccavey and Alan and Heidi Wagoner
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