Are you leaving your home country to travel or live abroad?
But not sure what to expect?
Well, I’ve been to thirteen countries so far.
And I’ve lived in Colombia for almost 6 months.
So I’ve learned a few things about expat life…
Here are twenty-one of my observations:
1) Most Foreigners Are Good People
Most foreign people are good folks. Majority will be friendly. Some will go out of their way to help you. And if they really like and trust you? They’ll even invite you into their homes. If someone invites you, say yes! It’s the greatest compliment, and a great way to deeply explore local culture.
2) Some Locals Will Scam You
As a traveler you’re vulnerable. Once criminals learn you’re not local, they’ll try and scam you. Not everyone, of course. But enough. So be wary and street-smart. In my experience, taxi cab drivers are the worst offenders. When you can, skip taxis and use Uber instead.
3) Some Locals Will Hate You
If you travel long enough, eventually you’ll run into people who hate you. For no good reason. How common this is depends on the country, what you look like, and your ability to speak their language. For example, in Japan, I experienced hate and discrimination exactly three times in seven days. Not bad for the most crowded city in the world! Compare that to Spain, where I felt hatred directed towards me daily (probably because I look Latino but didn’t speak Spanish).
4) Young Foreign Women Love Older Men
Older man and younger woman relationships are hated in the West. At an almost pathological level. But that’s not the case in other places. Once you travel the world, you’ll realize the West is a weird anomaly. For example, in Latin American culture, May-December relationships are normal and common.
5) Racism Is Rampant
Westerners enjoy pretending that only Whites are racist. World travelers know that’s not true. Hatred exists across the planet. I’ve seen it first hand. Chinese hate Japanese. Japanese hate everyone. Spaniards hate Africans and Mexicans. Mexicans and Colombians hate Blacks. Portuguese don’t care for Muslims. And so on.
6) Traveling With A Girl Will Enhance Or Destroy Your Relationship
Travel will amplify your romantic relationship. So if you’re a loving couple? Travel will bring you much closer, it’ll create a strong bond. If you have problems? Travel will quickly bring them out and make them 10X worse.
7) Only Travel With Family You Like
Traveling with family is great fun IF you like them. If you don’t care for your family? Traveling with them will be a nightmare. And even if you love you family dearly, always reserve separate rooms when traveling with relatives. That way you’ll have a private place to retire to at night, so you can take a much-needed break from them.
8) Solo Travel Is Most Rewarding
I’ve traveled alone, with a girlfriend, with friends, and with family. My favorite? Solo travel. It’s lonely, yes. But traveling alone is super-rewarding. It’s an amazing way to grow and evolve. This is true only for men though, I don’t recommend single women travel solo.
9) You Own Too Much Stuff
Travel teaches you the value of minimalism. Lugging a bunch of crap around sucks. So packing light is a necessity. And even though it’s scary at first? Once you embrace the minimalist lifestyle, you’ll realize just how little you need.
10) You Can Live Like A King For Cheap
Don’t let the name “3rd-World” fool you. You can live like King in many developing countries. For very little money. Pick a place with favorable foreign exchange rates. That way your money goes even further. You get what you pay for though! Always be willing to shell out a little extra cash for better food and a nicer pad. It’s worth it.
11) You Don’t Need A Clothes Dryer
It’s funny. I was really worried about not having a dryer while traveling. So I made sure my first Airbnb had one when I moved to Medellin! But that was silly. After finally living without a dryer, I realize how unnecessary they are. As long as it’s warm enough to hang your clothes out, dryer is a needless luxury.
12) Air Conditioning Is Not Universal
When you’re from a hot place like Texas, you assume A/C is universal. It’s not. There are many places in the world where you can live very comfortably without any air conditioning at all. Crazy but true! And the same goes with heating.
13) It’s OK To Lie (Sometimes)
Westerners learn that honesty is best. And it usually is. But sometimes, in survival or travel situations, lying is OK. For example, giving strangers a fake name while traveling, for camouflage, is totally acceptable.
14) You Can Bend Rules
In the West, we’re very proud of our ability to follow the rules. Stand in line, wait your turn, obey traffic laws, don’t bribe officials. Otherwise it’s chaos! But it’s not like that everywhere else. In some cultures, breaking rules and ignoring the law is normal and expected.
15) America Is Hyper-Efficient
America, and most of the West, is extremely efficient and business-like. You take this for granted when you live there, you think that’s how it is everywhere. But it’s not. Many parts of the world are very inefficient when compared to the West. And that is challenging if you’re used to handling business fast, the American way.
16) America Has Great Customer Service
Customer service in America has degraded recently. But it’s still royal treatment when compared with customer service in other countries! The West has a strong culture of customer service that is totally lacking in some parts of the world.
17) America Is A Stressful Place To Live
It’s hard to see this when you’re living there. But if you travel and then go back home, it becomes clear. American culture is hyper-stressful. Many cultures are much more laid back. The pace of life is slower there because people have different values, and not everyone worships at the altar of mindless consumption.
18) There Are Few Fat People Abroad
This shocked me. The U.S. is obese. We all know that. But I didn’t realize how bad it was until I traveled! For example, I saw almost zero fat people in Japan! And very few in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, or Gibraltar. Colombia and Costa Rica have some fat folks, but they’re less common. When I’m abroad, I rarely see the morbid obesity rampant in America and the West.
19) The World Is Well-Dressed
This was also a big surprise for me. I always assumed the West had a monopoly on style. But I was wrong. Foreigners tend to dress well and take pride in their appearance. In contrast, most average Americans are slovenly and dress like a bums. Sad, but true.
20) Travel Makes You Super Patient
Like I mentioned, things are not as efficient outside the West. Daily life is a struggle. Tasks that should be simple, aren’t. Many things get done poorly, inefficiently, and not on time. Or, they’re not done at all. So then you’ve got two choices. Get angry. Or be patient. Being angry is stupid. So expat travelers must develop saint-like patience!
21) Your Country Will Seem Different
Things will look different once you return home from an international trip. Your country will seem almost alien. But then you’ll realize that your country hasn’t changed. You changed. And you’ll never see your home in the same way again.
If you’re a seasoned traveler, then you’ve probably noticed the same stuff.
But if you haven’t seen much of the world?
Don’t take my word for it…
Get out there and experience these lessons for yourself!
What lessons have you learned while traveling the world?