Why a Simple Vacation Beats a Luxurious One

Why a Simple Vacation Beats a Luxurious One

  Maybe I'm just a simple gal who enjoys the simpler things in life but in all of our travels, my favorite vacations have been the ones in which I can let go of all of my stress. I'm a casual jeans and T-shirt, comfort over style, laid back type of person and my most favorite vacations are the simple ones. Don't get me wrong. I've been incredibly fortunate and privileged to have seen the gilded ceilings of the Vatican museum, ridden in a private boat on the sparkling blue waters of Lake Como pretending I was Amal Clooney, and relaxed beachside at an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta. Those were all amazing experiences and I am so grateful to have experienced them. However, my favorite, most special moments occurred after everything went "wrong" and all of our planning didn't match reality. I think back on our trip to Tuscany and my heart aches to be "stranded" again in the middle of a tiny Italian...
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Heading Back During A Tumultuous Time

Heading Back During A Tumultuous Time

  I'm about to get on a plane for 12 hours and fly straight into the face of the unknown.   I'm not heading in for a family trip, holiday, or celebration. I'm making this difficult, time-consuming trek because I feel compelled. Something is pulling me. I must go.   New friends, old friends, and whoever I meet along the way will all be a part of this wave of energy. A hopeful turn of the tides. A show of change, positivity, and unity.   I have witnessed firsthand what women can accomplish when they organize. It is empowering, bold, and beautiful. When we set aside our differences and focus on our commonalities, we can break down barriers. Build bridges.   Discover how we are the same and the differences no longer seem to matter. We may define "best" for our families differently and approach it in various ways—there is no one path in life—but we are all trying our best.   My good friend, Clara Wiggins, talks about the uncertainty...
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There Are Good People Everywhere

There Are Good People Everywhere

A few weeks ago, I packed my suitcase and headed out of town for a week in Amsterdam to facilitate a data analysis and management workshop—switching my crisp and clean editor/publisher hat for my worn-in public health hat. It was refreshing to step back into comfortable shoes and play a role that was familiar and speak a language that was native. I met public health professionals from all over the world—Georgia (the country, not the state), Russia, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Thailand, and Croatia. In 2013, I was five months pregnant and flew to Cote d'Ivoire to facilitate another global public health consultation of this nature. Luck would have it that I was paired with the only female participant in the room—a laboratorian from Sierra Leone. We sat together and analyzed her influenza surveillance data, and I noted that she didn't have any cases—I mean zero cases, which would be extremely rare—for males aged 30-45...
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Mother Tongue: An Ambitious Memoir About Multilingualism

Mother Tongue: An Ambitious Memoir About Multilingualism

I pre-ordered this book because Christine Gilbert was offering some awesome rewards for her fans before the book hit the shelves. Despite living in Sweden, it arrived only 20 days after its release and I devoured it while absorbing the intense Swedish summer sun on my front deck. Christine Gilbert is somewhat of my publishing and adventure-driven nomadic mentor. She regularly packs up her family and sets off to a different country (she's traveled to over 35 countries) as she and her husband have digital careers. She has self-published numerous books and traditionally published her memoir with Avery, Mother Tongue: My Family's Globe-Trotting Quest To Dream In Mandarin, Laugh In Arabic, And Sing In Spanish. Her online courses are super clear recipes for how to start and sustain a digital career that allows you to live anywhere in the world. She's been successful and definitely knows what she's talking about so if you're interested in furthering a creative digital career, Christine is someone to...
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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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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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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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“Slotting” it up in Sweden

“Slotting” it up in Sweden

When we said we were heading to one of Sweden's most famous "slott," my mother thought I was saying a bad word in English but really, "slott" means castle in Swedish and our activities were pure and innocent. Being a tourist in your city is a fun way to expand your horizons without ever leaving your comfort zone. We are currently on a budget (buying a house is not a cheap endeavor in Sweden, nor is a new roof and new windows for the aforementioned not-cheap house), so we've been on the lookout for interesting things to do in our backyard (relatively speaking) that we've never done before. About an hour and a half from our house is one of the most famous castles in Sweden. Swedish castles aren't that impressive, in my opinion, after viewing other European cities' gothic style castles. We've been to Neuschwanstein—a most impressive mountaintop castle in Germany—and I'm not sure anything can top that. This day trip...
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