Top 10 Ways To Be An A+ Expat Host

Top 10 Ways To Be An A+ Expat Host

  Last month I published the Top 10 Ways To Be An A+ International House Guest and fellow expats around the world cheered with delight. Well, the knife cuts both ways and I'm here to share some tips on how to be an excellent expat host. As nice as it is to have respectful, thoughtful guests, it is equally important to be a considerate host when your family and friends are traveling hours to visit you. If you want to guarantee that friends and family will ever repeat their long and expensive trek to see your scrubby faces, here are the top 10 ways to be an A+ expat host. 1. Meet them at the airport A+: "Welcome to our new country! We have nice cold waters waiting for you in the car and you can relax the rest of the way to our place." Pass: "I ordered a taxi for you at the airport. The driver will bring you straight to our house." Fail: "Sorry, I forgot you were...
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Sept 22 Twitter Party—#KnockedUpAbroadAgain

Sept 22 Twitter Party—#KnockedUpAbroadAgain

We want to hear your stories about parenting in foreign countries. Do you have a travel story you want to mention? Maybe you live far away from friends and family. Are you a military family? If so, this Twitter party is a great way to share your perspective. "Twitter Party, what's a Twitter Party? Will there be drinks?" Answer: Yes! But it's totally BYOB. You can connect with fellow travelers, expats, and explorers around the world without ever leaving your comfy sofa. To celebrate the amazing launch of Knocked Up Abroad Again, we are hosting a Twitter Party where we are discussing pregnancy, birth, and parenting experiences. All are welcome at our table and you do not have to be living abroad or have children abroad to participate. If you have an interesting experience or a funny travel story, travel tips, or something new to share, we want to hear about it! Be sure to include the hashtag #knockedupabroadagain in all of your Tweets so...
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An Open Letter—Please, Don’t Forget About Us

An Open Letter—Please, Don’t Forget About Us

We know that we live far away and we know that we chose to create that distance between us, but it doesn't mean that we don't love you, miss you, and wish that we were closer. We are relatively alone—there isn't any family here to swing by for a chat, to help babysit our kids, or to invite us over for a nice dinner. We've created new "family" in the way of friends who are also geographical orphans, but there is still a pause that happens before we think about imposing on a friend. Some of these "family" friendships are new and possibly tenuous relationships that may only exist because we are all in the same boat. Without a deeper connection, it is easy to overstep boundaries and so, in most cases, we choose not to impose. We'd rather be alone and keep those friendships rather than potentially lose our only sources of local support. We need to save those requests in case of...
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Top 10 Ways To Be An A+ International House Guest

Top 10 Ways To Be An A+ International House Guest

  Benjamin Franklin said, "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days." However, when you are traveling internationally to visit your friends and family, this rule does not apply. In my diverse network of expat friends, I have never once heard someone say that they do not like having visitors. In fact, everyone says how much they look forward to hosting friends and family and are disappointed when people don't want to visit. It seems that the longer you live abroad, the hungrier you are for the familiar. Not only is it wonderful to reminisce with old friends but we also love showing people how we live, where we work, and where our kids go to school. We love sharing the different culture and the local languages and customs with our friends and family who many have never experienced it before. If you want to guarantee an invitation back and a free place to stay at your expat friend's house, here are the top...
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How To Travel Light As A Family

How To Travel Light As A Family

  As a family, we have traveled all around Europe and the US on planes, trains, and automobiles but no matter where we are headed, we employ these core approaches to traveling lightly. As a mom of two kids, I found that I needed my arms to remain as free as possible to hold little hands while walking on busy streets or helping them up into their seats on the bus. Here's what worked for us:     1. Do laundry wherever you are We generally never pack clothing for more than five days and plan on doing laundry along the way. We stay at Airbnb apartments that usually have a washer on site and a kitchen. This has transformed our traveling experiences with children.     2. Backpack and baby wearing We prefer to use backpacks to keep our hands free for wrangling and carrying our children. Roller bags are good but you lose a hand and dragging it through Europe can be extra difficult over cobblestone streets. They...
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Creating Your Tribe on the Move

Creating Your Tribe on the Move

The Families in Global Transition (FIGT) 2017 conference is coming up and their theme is Building on the Basics: Creating Your Tribe on the Move.  The FIGT conference is not really a conference as one might think of professional meetings. It has been called, "A reunion of strangers," because the attendees are members of the same tribe. We are all highly mobile people living in cultures different from which we were born. Some attendees are newly living abroad and others have lived in more countries than I could ever imagine. The wealth and depth of knowledge and experience are impressive and connecting with this wonderful group of people feels like coming home. The deadline for submissions for speaking roles is September 7 and more information can be found here. The conference is in The Hague, Netherlands March 23-25, 2017 and I hope to meet you there! You can read about my Top 10 Takeaways from last year's conference. If you have any questions, please feel free...
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8 Surprising Things I Learned When I Put Down My Phone

8 Surprising Things I Learned When I Put Down My Phone

My phone is always in my back pocket, my hand, or my purse. I use it to take pictures and videos of my children throughout the day, and I justify that use always to have it nearby. I am mindful of limiting my children's screen time but often forget that I am probably getting more 100% screen time than they are throughout the day. I compulsively check my email, social media notifications, and text messages. It's a problem, and I know it. The average American checks their phone 46 times per day according to a 2015 Deloitte study. People are distracted by smartphones, smart watches, and tablets while watching tv, crossing the road, and of course, while interacting with friends and family. My kids' reaction to my perpetual distraction was enough to convince me that I was glancing at my phone too often. My oldest started saying, "Mama, look at me, not your phone!" (Could it get any clearer than that?) The...
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7 Reasons Why Expat Moms Make Excellent Spies

7 Reasons Why Expat Moms Make Excellent Spies

Let's look at the facts—expat moms have all of the qualities needed for top spies including adaptability to new cultures and languages, the ability to survive torturous conditions of all sorts, and the ability to blend into new environments with ease and grace (sometimes). The TV series, The Americans was nominated for their first Emmy Award and is a brilliant example of why expat moms would make excellent spies. Secret agencies are missing out on a likely untapped resource by not pulling expat moms into the espionage field. Here are seven reasons why expat moms would make excellent spies: 1. Sleep deprivation torture wouldn't be effective on expat moms. Expat moms are experts at time zone changes and have already learned how to survive on minimal sleep thanks to years of babies, toddlers, and partners who toss and turn throughout the night. Need someone to travel halfway around the world on two hours of sleep? An expat mom is your gal. 2. The perfect cover. Nobody would suspect Jane down...
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What Does A Bike Have To Do With Parenting? Everything

What Does A Bike Have To Do With Parenting? Everything

Imagine you are riding a bike up a hill. The hill isn't that steep, but it isn't flat either. You shift down into second gear and have to stand to pedal at the same pace. Once you get to the top of the hill, you look back, and you think, "Wow. I'm kind of out of breath. That was a longer hill than I thought." Now imagine that you attach a bike trailer, one of those really snazzy fancy ones with seats for two kids, to the back of your bike. You head up the same hill but instead of easily pumping up the moderate hill, the hill suddenly looks massive, and your progress slows to a crawl while your leg muscles scream with every pedal forward. At the top of the hill, you don't look back or reflect on your accomplishment, but you collapse into a heap and wonder how you're going to do it again tomorrow without killing yourself. [Tweet "You...
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I Still Need Him To Need Me

I Still Need Him To Need Me

  I bend down and kiss my five-year-old son good night. I motion to sweep his hair from his eyes when the back of his hand wipes my invisible kiss from his cheek and I catch my breath. This seemingly natural reflex is new—wiping off his mother's kiss—and it was not something I had expected until years down the road. I thought I’d have more time before this milestone. With my kiss, a small token of love, his hand brushed away that moment of tenderness and in its wake planted the seeds for independence. These are the same hands with fingers that curled tightly around mine minutes after he was born. The same hands that I held while helping him stumble-to-walk. The same I now hold while walking to preschool every day. The same hands that cradled my face on an afternoon to hold my gaze with his bright blue eyes and said, "Mama, will you remember these kisses?" as he proceeded to cover...
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