Once your family makes the decision to join the foreign service and move abroad, it—very obviously—completely changes your life. With every new post comes new opportunities, new challenges, new excitement.
No matter how long you’ve been in the foreign service and living abroad for, you’ll learn there are a few essentials you need to make your life easier.
My family has been a part of the foreign service for more than 9 years (and are currently bidding)! I've found that as new technology, gadgets, entertainment, and life hacks become available, life abroad gets a little easier and easier. Make sure you have these seven essentials with you no matter where you are in the world.
1. Pack a Go Bag At this point, we all know how important it is to have an emergency kit for when disaster strikes. Living abroad in often unstable, unfamiliar, or at the very least, interesting places, it’s even more essential. A natural disaster or even a power outage can leave your family in the lurch if you’re not prepared. Actually putting a Go Bag together can be overwhelming—there are so many “must-have” items. Which do you really need? Which are the best? Let’s Go! Bags takes the hassle out of making your own. You can order a complete kit—with everything from light to food to water to chargers—or make your own from their curated list of supplies. Let’s Go! Bag makes it so easy, so no more excuses for not having one.
2. Learn CPR Here’s another living-abroad essential many of us have neglected or put off. Maybe you think you don’t have the time or won’t be able to handle the stress of having someone’s life on your hands, but a basic knowledge of CPR is truly the difference between life and death. This video from the British Heart Foundation proves it’s not as hard as it looks (and trust me, after watching, you won’t soon forget the technique).
3. Keep Your Kids Safe The Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift are two MUST reads for any parent. The Gift of Fear teaches you how to trust your gut to protect yourself in potentially dangerous situations, and Protecting the Gift takes it a step further by sharing practical steps to ensure your children are protected and giving you the tools to keep them safe, no matter their age.
4. Listen to the Expat Happy Hour This awesome podcast—hosted by Sundae Bean, an “intercultural specialist” and expat coach—is dedicated to helping expats adapt and succeed when living abroad. Expat Happy Hour is created to help you solve some of the stickiest challenges related to international life. It’s funny, heartfelt, and helpful, and will get your through tough transitions and help you feel more connected.
5. Stock Up on The Right Gadgets Having the right tech in your pocket will make life abroad so much easier. This solar-powered phone charger ensures you have power, as long as there’s sun. If you don’t already have an Amazon Kindle, then get one! The newest version holds thousands of titles so you’ll never be without something to read. Finally, this non-tech multi-tool is really 10 tools in one; from a driver to tweezers to a bottle opener, you’ll be set for whatever life throws at you.
6. Get Some Helpful Travel Tech Whether you’re into researching your next trip or hate the idea of looking up places, there’s a travel app for you. TripIt helps you organize and access all your travel bookings in one place (offline too!). On the other hand, Inspirock does all the planning for you, building an itinerary with tons of carefully curated attractions to match her personal preferences. Of course, you’ll want to capture all your amazing travel moments, and for that, there’s Flytographer, which sets you up with a local photographer at more than 300 destinations across the world. Need a method to pay for the next trip? Make sure the foreign transaction fees on your travel credit card are minimal (or even better, zero!). You'll likely be able to score some rewards when you use your card too!
7. Hack Your Foreign Service Life There are a ton of benefits to living abroad, but if you don’t know the hacks that’ll make your life easier, you’re missing out! Download 40 Hacks for Life in the Foreign Service and see what a huge impact it makes! I know it’ll save you so much time, money, and stress! www.ushistoryabroad.com/hacks