Downtime In Europe

If your expat assignment takes you to Europe, why not travel to these recommended places in your time off? Get away from your work assignment and truly explore your new environment, its culture and unique sights.

Istanbul, Turkey

Europe and Asia meet in Istanbul, where breathtaking ancient architecture coexists with modern restaurants and nightlife. The city’s mosques, bazaars, and hammams (Turkish baths) could keep you happily occupied for your entire trip. Start with the awe-inspiring Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque), visible from many points of the city. Stroll the Galata Bridge and stop by the Miniaturk Park to see its tiny artifacts. The Grand Bazaar has thousands of shops to browse, while the Egyptian Bazaar is a fragrant trove of spices and fruits.

Prague, Czech Republic

The bohemian allure and fairytale features of Prague make it a perfect destination for beach-weary vacationers who want to immerse themselves in culture. Spend a full day exploring Prazsky hrad (Prague Castle), then refuel over a hearty dinner at a classic Czech tavern. Spend some time wandering the Old Town Square before heading over to gape at The Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock. Prague’s best bars are found in cellars, where historic pubs set the scene for a night of traditional tippling.

Zermatt, Switzerland

When most people think of Zermatt, they think of one thing: The Matterhorn. This ultimate Swiss icon looms over Zermatt, first drawing visitors here in the 1860s. The village of Zermatt is lovely and car-free, with old-fashioned brown chalets and winding alleys. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to walk everywhere—there are electric vehicles and horse-drawn cabs.) Skiing in the region often lasts through early summer, but when the weather’s warmer, it’s a great time to hike.

Goreme, Turkey

A town literally carved into the volcanic rock, Goreme is the gateway to the Goreme National Park, a vast UNESCO World Heritage Site that houses spectacular 10th- and 11th-century cave churches. The park itself is known for its chimney rock formations and is very popular with backpackers. This Travellers’ Choice Destination is also a great area to sample Turkish cuisine and wine.

St Petersburg, Russia

The second largest city in Russia, St. Petersburg is the country’s cultural heart. View splendid architectural gems like the Winter Palace and the Kazan Cathedral, and give yourself plenty of time to browse the world-renowned art collection of the Hermitage. Sprawling across the Neva River delta, St. Petersburg offers enough art, nightlife, fine dining and cultural destinations for many repeat visits.

Budapest, Hungary

Over 15 million gallons of water bubble daily into Budapest’s 118 springs and boreholes. The city of spas offers an astounding array of baths, from the sparkling Gellert Baths to the vast 1913 neo-baroque Szechenyi Spa to Rudas Spa, a dramatic 16th-century Turkish pool with original Ottoman architecture. The ‘Queen of the Danube’ is also steeped in history, culture and natural beauty. Get your camera ready for the Roman ruins of the Aquincum Museum, Heroes’ Square and Statue Park, and the 300-foot dome of St. Stephen’s Basilica.

Rimini, Italy

The biggest beach resort on the Adriatic Sea, Rimini is a favoured Italian seaside holiday destination for Italians themselves. The city offers an impressive nine miles of beaches, though many of these have private access for the scores of hotels facing the shore. The old town, about a 15-minute walk inland, has many interesting sights, including the Arch of Augustus from 27 BC, and Tiberius Bridge from the early 1st century. Rimini also boasts many great restaurants and an energetic nightlife.

Sorrento, Italy

Land of Mermaids. Land of Orange and Lemon Groves. Land of Colours. This small city in Campania has earned a plethora of alluring names. Famed for its sea cliffs, the town’s steep slopes look out over azure waters to Ischia, Capri and the Bay of Naples. The birthplace of Limoncello liqueur offers some good diving, great sea fishing, boat cruises and appetizing restaurants. Excellent hiking trails cross the peninsula. Rent a car or take a taxi if the steep streets look too intimidating.

Funchal, Portugal

Funchal, the capital of the Madeira archipelago, was declared a city in the 1500s, and became an important point between the old and new worlds. The laid-back city owes much of its historical prominence to the white gold, the Madeiran sugar. Today Funchal is known for its appealing temperatures, wine and crafts. Top spots to visit include the open Worker’s Market, Blandy’s Wine Lodge and the Sacred Art Museum. Friendly locals, walkable streets and cheap taxis make the city easy to get around.

La Oliva, Spain

Nestled in the northern part of the Canary Islands’ Fuerteventura, charming La Oliva features beautiful Spanish architecture, dramatic views, and eclectic nightlife. And the beaches? Oh, the beaches. Picnic on a pearly stretch of sand, take a dip or snorkel in the serene waters, or hop on a surfboard to enjoy the area’s most popular sport. Don’t worry if you’ve yet to get your proverbial feet wet—there are lots of area surf schools that will have you hanging ten in no time.

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Moving Abroad With Your Pet

Deciding whether to take your pet with you can be a difficult decision. As part of the family, many want to take them with them, but there can be issues that should be considered.

Questions to ask include: what is the climate and where will you be living (an apartment or a house)? Are there any restrictions on importing animals into your chosen country? You need to consider the interests of your pet as well as of you and the rest of your family.

Moving abroad with your pet can be a stressful and complicated process for owners, working out what the rules are and deciding on the routes for the special family members can be a very difficult part of relocation. There are, however, specialist companies available to help.

It is important to plan in detail when taking pets abroad. There are often pre-travel veterinary requirements which will need to be followed up to six months before the planned export date and so early research of the requirements for your intended destination is essential.

Each country has its own entry requirements and although there may be information available on the internet, this can be difficult to find for some locations and will often depend on where you are departing from. It is advisable to make contact with a specialist in the country you are planning on departing from to ensure you receive as accurate and up to date information as possible for your pet. Not every country will accept every breed of pet. Australia, for instance, will not allow the importation of rodents, among others.

Shipping Your Pet

If you decide to take your pet with you, you should ensure that it is looked after by professionals and that you are comfortable with your chosen service provider. So how do you choose a reputable pet travel company to suit your requirements?

You should arrange for at least three quotes from different companies and compare levels of service and cost. You need to be sure that you know what is included in each quote and what will be your own responsibility. Wherever possible you should find out what you can about their reputation by talking to others who have used them through friends or colleagues who have used them.

Pets are generally transported as ‘live animal’ cargo when shipped internationally. They will be booked into the specialist cargo hold of the plane by your pet shipping company. This area will be pressurised and heated.

Pets can be shipped with some airlines to certain destinations as ‘accompanied baggage’ if you are on the same flight as your pet. This is charged as excess baggage and is bookable directly with the airlines. You should check if there are any restrictions with the airline that could result in the pet’s flight being cancelled at the last minute. Sometimes this may include temperature restrictions with some airlines.

Transportation should always be arranged well in advance and all travel documentation, vaccination and permit requirements should be fully researched.

Crates For Transporting Pets

Crates must meet the current airline regulations. These regulations can change from time to time and so you may not be able to use the crate that they have flown in previously. Make sure you comply with the current regulations.

The right size crate will reduce stress and ensure comfort and security for the journey.

The pets’ ticket price (airway bill) will be determined by the volume of the crate in which the pets travel and so a slightly longer crate than needed not only means your pet may not feel as snug and safe but it could potentially cost you more.

It may be worth arranging for the crate to be delivered to you before your journey so that you can get your pet used to it. This is not always an advantage, however, and for some pets it is better to introduce them to the crate on the day of departure when they will adopt it as their ‘safe place’ away from home.

Make sure that the carrier provides sufficient water for the journey. Food is, however, not allowed to be provided during the flight as it can be a risk of choking.

Ensure that the crate is marked with all appropriate details and have ‘this way up’ labels clearly visible on all sides.

Pets are not permitted to be sedated during the journey as the changes in altitude can adversely impact the pet’s health. There are natural remedies that can be used to help your pet feel more secure and comfortable for the journey, but you should ensure that this is discussed with your chosen pet shipper as well as your vet.

Paperwork For Moving Pets

There is a significant amount of paperwork and veterinary requirements when shipping pets. More exotic pets often require even more paperwork and checks and in some cases it may be necessary to use a specialist shipper of exotic pets. The rules vary in different destinations and some have more stringent rules than others.

You can read the original article here

Sell, Store Or Ship When Moving Abroad?

There are many questions when you are moving abroad and for many there is no right answer. One of these will be whether to take things with you or buy or rent when you get there. The answer is, of course, it all depends…

The first point is how long you are going to be living abroad. For most short-term stays overseas it will not make sense to take more than a few personal items with you. These can be shipped using excess baggage services. This can generally be done less expensively by using a specialist provider rather than paying for an excess luggage allowance.

Shipping large quantities can be expensive and so it is important to consider all of the options and decide what is worth taking with you:

  • What do you plan to do with your home while you are away? Do you plan to sell it or retain it for your return? If you are holding on to it, do you want to return to your home or merely hold it to retain an interest in your home property market? Based on your answers to this you can decide whether to rent out the house and identify whether there is an option to offer it for rental furnished, which would save you storage costs, but may put your favourite chair at risk of being damaged while you are away. If you would need to put anything you leave behind into storage that gives you the first part of the cost equation.
  • Your planned destination will be another factor. Furniture that is ideal for a northern European or north American environment may not be appropriate for a tropical, Middle Eastern or Asian home. The size of your new home may be different or you may be moving from a house to an apartment, from country to city living etc. All of these factors will determine what is worth taking with you (alongside the cost of doing so). There may also be the option of renting a furnished property.
  • Another issue to consider is whether furniture can be purchased cheaply locally. Are there options like IKEA or local providers that would enable you to furnish more cheaply than paying for your household goods to be shipped there (and back) plus any storage costs at home? Is it an opportunity to buy a lovely new rosewood dining table to replace the tired table you have had for many years?
  • Electrical goods raise other issues:
    • The first thing to establish is whether the voltage in the new country is the same as your home country. The United States and Canada use a 110-120 volt, 60-cycle system whereas Europe and most of the rest of the world use 220-240V, 50 Hertz (cycles). You can obtain transformers, but they are not always appropriate for long-term use and can be difficult to use with items like vacuum cleaners that have to be moved from room to room.
    • There are travel versions of some items, such as hair dryers and irons, but they may not be the best option for long-term use. These smaller items are generally lower cost and can either be left behind in the loft or replaced when you return.
    • White goods will have the same issue with voltage, but you should also consider whether any guarantees or service agreements are international and how you will be able to make a claim in your new location. As these are bulky items, careful evaluation is sensible.
    • Consider whether to sell items on eBay or Gumtree before you leave to give you a fund to contribute towards buying new when you arrive.
    • Computer equipment is generally set up to work with different voltages and an appropriate adapter or a new lead may be all that is required.
  • If you have a car that is almost part of the family, it can be tempting to consider taking it with you. Before you do so, however, you will need to consider the cost of shipping (there and back potentially), whether there are import duties on the type of car you are taking with you and whether there are emission, safety and other standards that it will need to meet.
  • Advice from friends and future colleagues already living as expats, ideally in your planned destination, can be a great source of advice and information and sometimes answer questions you had not thought of. If you do not have access to them, there are many expat forums online where you can get your questions answered. Thinking it through can save you a great deal of money and ensure that you have the right furniture and equipment as you take up your new life abroad.

Once you have decided what you plan to ship abroad you need to choose an appropriate experienced and professional moving company.

You can read the original article here

Moving With Family

Any international move is complicated, but moving with family takes even more planning. The first challenge is to deliver the message to the family. This will require a detailed discussion; they are likely to have a large number of questions but it may not be easy to get them to ask them initially.

Children of different ages will require different levels of support. With support, however, they will adapt, especially if you actively involve them in all aspects of the international move and focus them on the excitement and opportunities.

Once the news has been received, a number of issues have to be addressed. You should get them to understand the country they will be moving to – including the language and culture and the schools that they will be attending. This can build their confidence and will help them to settle in more easily when they arrive. Age-appropriate books and research on the internet will help.

Members of your wider family who will not be coming with you also need to be considered to make sure that you maintain your relationships before, during and after the move. They will need to understand your motivation and you should involve them as much as possible. You will also need to agree how you will stay in touch after the move, using services such as email, Facebook and Skype to ensure you are regularly able to share news, photographs and video calls. Visits can also help to maintain relationships and provide something to look forward to.

Age Groups

The impact of a move on different age groups can vary significantly:

Babies and Toddlers – Although they need constant attention there are no emotional issues for babies and toddlers. As they are too young to understand what is planned, the international move should have little impact on them. The main issues will be to make sure that bottles, toys and any other important items are available throughout the journey and are not packed. Once you have arrived, routines are important in helping them to settle into their new home.

Four to Eight Year Olds – Although younger children will have established school and neighbourhood friendships, they will generally be fairly adaptable. If required, this age group can learn a new language fairly easily provided it is made fun. You will need to be patient in responding to all of the questions they will have and should emphasise the positives and be prepared constantly to reassure them.

Nine to Twelve Year Olds – You should expect greater difficulties when dealing with this age group as they have more established groups of friends and are likely to have more emotional problems with the disruption to their lives. They may direct their anger and confusion at you and you will need to be open and honest in handling their concerns and actively involve them in decisions as far as possible.

You should emphasise the positive and the new things that they can look forward to, such as clubs and activities that have always interested them. You can also help them to make arrangements to stay in touch with their friends via social media, phone and email, and plan return trips.

Early Teens – This group will have very well established groups of friends and this is likely to be a major issue for them. Even with an emphasis on all of the opportunities and positives it may be difficult to get them to be positive. It is important to engage them in the decisions to be made and explain the opportunities available to help get them excited about the move.

Communicating with their friends will be vital and the internet will be central to that, as will looking forward to a return trip at some defined point in the future. The opportunity to spend as much time as possible with their friends before they leave and to hold a leaving party will help them to adjust. If at all possible you should move at the end of the school year and try to enrol them in a school that has the same syllabus to minimise disruption.

Sixteen to Eighteen Year Olds – This group will tend to be more mature and rational but may have just as many concerns about the prospects of leaving their friends and lifestyle. Moving them can also be very disruptive to their education. It is feasible to agree to leave this age group with another family member or at a boarding school. You can potentially get support from them in planning the move and with supporting younger siblings. If it is felt that they can move without disruption to their education they are likely to be excited by the positive opportunities that moving to a new part of the world provides.

A series of positive messages about the move and a willingness to talk through any concerns and issues as they arise will help the transition. A familiarisation trip to see their new home can have a positive impact if it is practical to do so. Putting them in touch via social media with children of their own age already there can also help.

You can read the original article here


Moving Your Home Contents

Before beginning to pack make sure that you have thought through what you should take with you. Make a list!

It is best to reduce the amount of home contents you take with you, as you may be fitting into something much smaller.

First of all, what are you thinking of taking with you?

Furniture – You may be in furnished or unfurnished accommodation, but even if you will be moving into empty accommodation your furniture may be inappropriate for the type of property or for the climate. British and US furniture is often large relative to the size of apartments in many Asian locations. Rental of furniture is an option or you can either buy lower-cost styles appropriate to the location or you can often find secondhand furniture from expats returning home.

If you decide not to take your furniture with you, consider the costs of storage and be realistic about how long may be involved. Will the furniture still meet your needs when you return or would you be better selling some or all of it now?

Electronic equipment – With different voltages and plugs it is often not worth taking your electronic equipment with you.

Motor vehicles – The shipping and other costs make taking your vehicle with you an unattractive option in most cases.

Customs Duty – Many items, including electronics and motor vehicles, may incur significant customs fees. Ensure your shipping company advises you on any duties payable so that you can decide whether to leave them behind or sell them.

Packing For The Move

International moves result in longer shipping and an increased chance of meeting difficult conditions during the journey, so you should ensure goods are packed as well as possible. Using professional packers should ensure that goods are safely and securely packed.

If you do decide to pack yourself, ensure that you are organized and have a clear plan. Identify which items will not be needed and pack them first. Ensure that you pack by room and mark what is in the box immediately after or as you are packing and which room it is to go in when you arrive at the new home. Large colour-coded labels for each room can help to ensure it arrives in the correct location.

You will need to ensure that you have an adequate supply of packaging materials, including boxes, tapes and filling material. Good quality boxes are essential and cheap thin boxes can be a false economy. Ensure you have a good balance of large and small boxes.

Boxes should be secured on all edges along the bottom of the box before you begin packing. Always start with heavier items at the bottom of the box. Boxes need to be protected against sharp items like scissors and knives as well as to ensure the safety of anyone involved in the move. Tea towels or other thick materials can be used. Fragile items such as glass and crockery should be cushioned with appropriate materials and placed in the centre of the box. Paper, bubble-wrap or soft clothing or furnishings can be used.

Use appropriately sized boxes to ensure that they do not become too heavy – make sure you do not exceed around 25kg for small boxes and 40kg for large ones. Use specialist boxes, such as wardrobe boxes for hanging clothes (those that you will not need before the shipment arrives). Seal the top of boxes with plenty of tape.

Make sure that any high-value specialist items, such as grandfather clocks or valuable ornaments are professionally packed.

Customs Regulations

Be sure that you are aware of the importation rules and regulations that you will be subject to at the new destination. Your international removals company should provide advice on requirements and handle documentation and customs clearance.

In some countries there are restrictions on what you may import and some are restricted by carriers from a safety perspective. This may typically include alcohol, perishable foods and hazardous materials, such as barbecue gas bottles, aerosols etc.

In some cases you are not permitted to pack your goods yourself, a detailed inventory and certified documents covering the contents of the container must be provided by the shipping company.

You can read the original article here

Moving Overseas With Teens? Here Are 6 Tips To Help Them Cope

Teenage years are tough enough as they are. They are dealing with plenty of issues – trying to become independent; trying to figure out who they are and what they want out of life; totally tied into their friends and their social lives. It can be a challenging period of years.

Written exclusively for Expat Network by Kristin Savage of Studicus

Re-locating, especially to another country, can be a devastating change, and one that you will have to carefully plan for.

Probably the one group of teens who may be able to cope with constant moves are those who have a parent in the military. They are moved from base to base throughout their growing years and have developed their coping mechanisms along the way.

But what if you have been settled in one place for a long period of time and are suddenly looking at a move overseas? Perhaps your company is sending you; maybe there is a job opportunity that you cannot turn down. Whatever the reason, you are now faced with uprooting your teen from his or her comfortable and secure environment and forcing them into the unknown. It’s not going to be easy. There will be anger, resentment, and some typical “heartbreak,” and you will need to be prepared.

So here are some tips for reducing the issues as much as possible:

1. Empathy is Critical

You may be excited about this new chapter in your life. Do not expect your teen to feel the same way. Put yourself in his or her shoes and see this major change through their eyes. They are giving up all that they have known to be their lives right now. Do not criticize their anger, their sadness, etc. Instead, accept it, tell them you understand, and allow them those feelings.

2. Explain the Reasons for the Move

Your teen is a rational human being. If this move is necessary or if it means many positive results for the family as a whole, you need to explain these clearly and in terms of the benefit for the whole family. While this will not make your teen any happier about the move, it will help them to understand why you are doing this.

3. Have an Exploratory Trip if Possible

If your company is moving you, negotiate an exploratory trip for the family. After all, you have to check out all of the details involved in the move – housing, banking, driving, educational options, educational options, etc. If this is not possible, then at least get online and show your teen the “lay of the land.” With all of the technology for real-time tours, your teen can put himself in the environment and experience it first-hand. You want to show those amazing places and experiences that your teen will be able to see and have in their new “home.”

4. If You Have a Senior

This is a special circumstance. If your teen is a senior in high school, moving him or her right now is truly not a good idea. If you can find a trusted family, truly consider letting your teen stay behind in order to finish his or her high school career. They can always join you after graduation, spend the summer in their new “home,” and then go on to college if that is in their plans. And who knows? You may want to look at international college options they may have in your new home. What a grand experience this could be for your high school grad.

5. Consider Trying to Set Up “Pen Pal” relationships with teens in the new country.

This is so easy to do right now. There are international pen pals available in almost every country in the world. Having personal contact with a peer in the new country and the relationship that could develop, can show your teen that peers all over the world really have the same interests, priorities, and social activities that he or she has. And if that one or more pen pals happen to be in the city to which you are moving, all the better. They can meet up in person once you get there.

6. After the Move – Get Your Teen Involved Quickly

Obviously, the most important involvement will be in schooling. There are public, private and international schools in most major cities overseas. Your teen should have a direct hand in school selection – it is one area of his or her life over which he or she can feel some control. Other elements of this transition may include these things:

Your teen gets to decorate his/her own room. Again, these small areas of control can have a larger psychological impact.
Be certain that all of the technology is in place for your teen to communicate with his or her friends back home, as often as possible, and this includes video access.
If your budget will allow, let your teen have a best friend come and visit or to take a couple of visits back home within that first year. Remember, assimilation into a new environment and a new culture is a process, and that process may take a good amount of time. Over that time, though, if you can be a catalyst for meeting new teens, even Americans who are also expats, that assimilation will gradually occur. In the meantime, be sympathetic, be empathetic, and tell your teen you understand their feelings.

Your teen did not ask to be moved. When it is thrust upon him, he will feel a big sense of powerlessness. And with that powerlessness comes a host of other emotions, many of them not so good. You must anticipate these and plan in advance for how you will help your teen cope. These six tips are certainly worth looking at.

You can read the original article here