I’ve lived as an ex-pat in London, Germany, and Singapore. The experience of living in different places temporarily taught me valuable lessons in how to make the travel experience a great one. Here are a few ways my ex-pat experience has enhanced my travel experiences.
Living in a foreign place as an ex-pat forces you to connect with people you don’t know. When traveling, networking can be particularly useful in meeting and creating new relationships. The benefit of connecting with people when vacationing is that you may get to explore places your new acquaintances genuinely enjoy. Friendly people are happy to give recommendations, and the sites recommended are great because your new friends only want to share the best of the local area with you.
Traveling with flexibility.
In a previous blog, I discussed how travel and organization are essential to having a great travel experience. However, being flexible with your travel plans is also necessary for memorable experiences. I try to be as relaxed in my travel plans as I learned to be while living abroad. Whether long-term or a weekend, traveling with flexibility allows you to have unique and different experiences that are usually unplanned. With flexibility, your trip can be enjoyable and insightful.
Be a foreigner but travel locally.
Living as an ex-pat taught me to travel like a foreigner yet be local at the same time. Connecting with people while on vacation is very similar to living in an ex-pat community. Often, you connect with people who are familiar to you, live locally, and want to give you an experience similar to that of a tourist. Usually, they will encourage seeing and doing things you had not thought of doing. Your vacation will include local but different travel experiences.
It’s not personal.
While creating new relationships can be fulfilling, new connections can also be problematic. The ex-pat experience will teach you that not everyone you reach out to will respond or be available. Not everyone you meet or encounter will be cheerful and accommodating. Being open, understanding, and conscious of other people and their truths will allow for more pleasant travel experiences.
While living in Singapore, I met Terry James Johnson, an ex-pat performing under the stage name “the real TJ.” He wrote an article that accurately discusses some of the ex-pat experiences. You will find it a great read; check it out here. Do you have any ex-pat experience? Has it enhanced your travel skills? I’d like to know.