Moving abroad is in and of itself a huge feat, loaded with adventures and trials around every bend. It takes a unique, flexible individual to make it work. Oftentimes, those individuals are avid travelers, but once settled down into a new culture they stop exploring. Over the last two years living in Costa Rica, my wife and I traveled to over twenty-five domestic destinations and have created new experiences, hiked new trails, saw active volcanoes and raging rivers, zip-lined through cloud forests, observed 16 foot crocodiles alongside our boat, kayaked in a crater lake and along the Caribbean Coast, was enthralled by fire dancers, surfed a few great breaks, learned countless lessons, met amazing people, swam in waterfall pools, cliff dived over 55 feet (my butt still hurts), touched starfish,saw countless exotic birds and monkeys, and pushed ourselves to new limits in many categories of life. Sure, we moved to a vacation destination, but that was no reason to stop having vacations! My advice to those that are expats or those that are aspiring expats, make sure to keep challenging yourself, and feed your passions. For many expats, travel plays a large role in both of those tasks.
As an experienced budget traveler, let me share with you my survival kit.
Ear plugs: for those times when the karaoke party next door seems endless.
Eye mask: great for red eye flights, bright hotel rooms, and dorm rooms.
Surge protector: provides more outlets to charge all of your devices while protecting them from that lightning storm outside.
Electrical adapter: to plug the surge protector into if you are traveling to a country that has different electrical outlets.
Electronic reader: because books are just too heavy to heave.
Camel back: for those who like long walks or hikes, it’s a great way to stay hydrated and has room to pack some snacks.
Sea sick medicine: you never know when a boat opportunity could arise, keep Dramamine, Famodile (my personal favorite), or other like product with you.
Mole skin: hiking across varying terrains such as rivers, dusty roads, or through the mud can lend to some gnarly blisters, mole skin really keeps you going.
Needle sew kit: most recently I’ve had a hole in my favorite board shorts and a strap break on my daypack. Each time was no big deal because I had a tiny needle sew kit to make repairs.
Sunscreen: we all know how a bad burn brings down your traveling experience.
Small bag of laundry detergent with 10-20 foot string: on many occasions through our travels we have laundered our clothes by hand in the sink of a hotel/hostel and simply placed them on the line to dry. This addition is only for the backpacker or budget minded individual, for most laundry is offered at the hotels with an additional fee.
Hat: for those times when you need a break from the sun, or it’s pouring down rain (the bill creates a nice awning keeping the rain out of your eyes).
In addition to the survival kit, keep in mind to pack light. The more you pack, the more weighted down you will be, symbolically, and literally. After every trip that we take, we analyze what pieces of clothing, devices, and hygiene stuff were actually used. Each trip, Cammy and I become more precise with what we what, and need, to keep with us. We have learned that we like to wear the same four shirts, three shorts, and two pairs of pants over the rest of our wardrobe.
We only like to lug one pair of flip flops and one pair of hiking/water (multipurpose) shoes each. Even when we plan a month-long trips we stick to these items of clothing because it’s what we will actually wear, so we wash them when needed. For me, skimping on the electronic goods is the hardest part. I use them for work, but have many devices and accessories that are redundant, so my task each trip is to see what I actually used and what has multiple purposes.
Your adventurous spirit lead you to or towards an expat life, don’t dwindle it by getting stuck in a rut. Keep exploring, whether you simply travel an hour or two away or get on a flight to a new country, continue to challenge yourself and see what life has to offer.
[imgr]http://www.expatfocus.com/images/other/columnists/becoming-an-expat-costa-rica-100×125.jpg[/imgr]Shannon is an international resident from San Diego, currently residing in Costa Rica. Her first career of 10 years was spent serving San Diego & Kansas City as a paramedic. After a back injury her life drastically changed, and an international door was opened. As an avid traveler, Shannon had visited over 27 countries by the age of 30. She quickly chose Costa Rica as her first destination proclaiming, "My whole body comes alive when I am there." In addition to writing, Shannon owns Enete Enterprises, LLC a video and print publication company that specializes in travel guidebooks and the creation of marketing videos for the tourism, hospitality, and real estate sectors. To learn more about Costa Rica, and how to become an expat see www.BecominganExpat.com.