Have you ever gone abroad as an expat for months at a time or do you plan to? What are the biggest concerns, things you need to plan for and general questions a hotel like Marriott Executive Apartments (our brand of serviced apartments around the world) can help with?
Reply with your thoughts and help out your fellow expats »
There is a place where the distance from home seems shorter and the differences seem smaller. Where stylish apartment living and premier hotel services blend seamlessly to deliver an upscale residential experience. That place is Marriott Executive Apartments, the corporate apartments preferred by international business travelers.
When travelling abroad here are the immediate steps I take before leaving home:
1. Scan my passport, drivers' license, medical card, credit cards and other important documents into an e-mail to myself. I keep the e-mail in my inbox during the duration of the trip. This way, if I lose any of my documents, I can retrieve them from my phone or laptop. If you are not travelling with any devices, you can open your e-mail from the business center within your hotel.
2. Inform all my credit card/debit card companies where I am. This assures that you will have use of your cards.
3. Register with the US Department of State on-line to inform them of your travel dates and locations. Once registered, you will receive alerts as to any issues in the area you are travelling as well as Embassy information, should you need assistance. Always enter the dates, addresses and phone numbers where you are staying.
The tips already posted regarding personal document management, credit cards, and registering at the embassy are all excellent suggestions. I would add that it might be helpful to sort out recurring bills (home cable, utilities, cell phone, etc.) before going overseas. Setting up automatic payments and/or requesting that billing be suspended during the travel period can save money and effort. Regarding lodging, it would be helpful if Marriott offered long-term corporate/government rates for extended stays at more properties. It would benefit people having to travel abroad frequently while also attracting a traditionally under-served clientele to the Marriott brand.
Thanks for the great responses! I am part of the Marriott Executive Apartments Brand Management team and we really appreciate the tips noted above.
Thanks, mrincon9, for asking about long term corporate / government rates at Marriott Executive Apartments. Our properties typically do offer corporate / government rates, however we occasionally have availability constraints that are not able to guarantee the special rate for every reservation inquiry.
-Bruce, Marriott Executive Apartments Brand Management
Small things can make a difference:
1. Every country has different power adapters - having a couple of of those universal adapters available would be helpful.
2. Have a lockbox available in the apartment for your passport and other important documents
3. Phone numbers for taxi and limo services
I've lived overseas for extended periods of time many times over the past three decades. One of the great things about Marriott Executive Apartments is that they have full-equipped kitchens where you can do your own cooking like residents of your destination do every day. I've found this immersed me in the culture of the destination because I went shopping at grocery stores and markets to cook my own meals. Bon Appetit!
When going overseas for an extended assignment would highly recommend an acculturation class before going to the country or shortly after. It will help the initial process of adjusting to a new culture and avoid embarassing situations. I also had a class upon returning to the US after seven years in Asia and also proved useful.
fernandoo good idea on the acculturation class. Question for all -- if our Marriott Executive Apartments properties brought in an English-speaking local culture expert twice per month to present information about the city/area, would you (guests) attend?
I went to Chile for two months. Best thing I did was make a friend of a co-worker who told me what to look out for, how to handle cabbies who overcharge foreigners routinely, store clerks who give incorrect change, etc. Not that the place is corrupt, it is very safe, but some people will take advantage of foreigners who do not know the currency. I also found out that some credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee of 3%, and some do not. It pays to check before you go.
We love to hear stories about our guests immersing themselves in the local culture by cooking local cuisine in Marriott Executive Apartments full gourmet kitchens. It’s one of our favorite features we provide to our guests in each of our apartments – indeed, lynnseldon is pretty adventurous! On my next personal “traveling abroad” trip, I am going to use some of these tips offered by ringocat and elchambers1, too! Thanks!
Take a carryon or backpack with all your documents and medications plus one complete change of clothing. Pack everything else into one rolling suitcase or one rolling duffel that is small enough for you to easily pick up and handle in addition to your carryon/backpack. Pack a coat hanger that includes a swivel hook and clips. Being a leisure international traveler, I recommend packing clothes that may be easily washed and that dry quickly. I usually wash a few things the first night of a two or three night stay and then there is enough time to dry even if humid weather. If you are sensitive to odors, take your own soap as scents vary greatly in different countries. Have fun!
When I travel I follow several steps to ensure my trips are as stress free as I can. I make an extra copy of my passport, medical cards, and drivers license. You may be able to load them on your computer or phone, but what if those devices don’t work where you are going?
I inform my credit card companies of what continent/countries I will be traveling in, as well as the dates of travel. This not only will stop the company from being overly cautious and not approving a charge, but an end date to a trip will assure you of no fraudulent charges.
I always take my own pillow. After the jet lag you may have while traveling say to Europe, it’s nice to have your own pillow.
My favorite hotel is the Shelbourne Dublin, a Marriott hotel located in the city centre overlooking St. Stephen's Green. The rooms are very comfortable, the staff is amazing, and the food is wonderful.
While 5 months in the Mid East, all these tips were used and were very handy.
Before traveling in Western Europe, do not load up on Euros or GBPs in the US. You will pay outrageous fees to convert USD to foreign currencies. My advice is to use your ATM card while you are in country and withdraw enough money to cover you for a couple of days. This will prevent you from having excessive foreign money to convert back to USD (also very costly). To be on the safe side, stick to bank ATMs while traveling and avoid ATM kiosks in retail establishments. By following these basic rules, you stand to save on fees and get the best exchange rate.
Good advice, and remember to spend your "Change", prior to leaving your departing country prior to returning to The US! You can convert paper money to dollars, but NOT change.
I like to use it for tips at the airport, prior to departure, or leave it for your maid!
When working abroad, the first item most people evaluate is obviously the Big Mac index or cost of living comparison. This needs to play a huge part in the decision where to live for sure -- however, I heavily suggest to not be afraid to pay a bit of a premium to first rent short term in a more central location. Whether it be Sofia, Osaka, Bangkok, or Tallinn -- living in the heart of a city for 2 to 3 months will help give one perspective on where he or she may want to live on a more permanent basis.
This is sort of related, so excuse me if I get off topic a bit. BTW, all the tips here are excellent and I've used many of them myself. I'll add a couple: "Don't pack anything you can easily buy when you arrive." Filling up your suitcase with all kinds of toiletries and other stuff is heavy, potentially messy and slows you down at security. Also investigate all the programs available from US Customs that let you easily come back into the country without standing in long lines, like Nexus and so on. Get into the trusted traveler program as well (that applies to the US, not just overseas); unless they stop you at random you breeze right through security and don't have to unpack laptops, take off shoes, belt, jacket, etc.
Now to my point: I own a small consulting company that specializes in Project Management and IT in Retail and related industries. I want to find work overseas but have had no luck finding a way to identify government agencies or other methods that might help me find clients in places like Europe or Australia. Does anyone have suggestions on how to do this? Thanks very much in advance!
I particularly like the suggestion to scan all your documents into a file for your phone or laptop. I have to go to Vienna on a regular basis and make a point of staying at the same hotel (not in the city center but a mile away in the diplo quarter) and make a point of knowing the staff. That pays off. Last trip my wallet was stolen in the Frankfort Airport. Of course, If I had these files in my laptop it would have been easier. In this instance, when I arrived at my hotel after a flight from Frankfort and discovered the theft, the staff knew me, checked me in, fronted me cab fare to a Western Union where I had some cash wired, and were understanding that it took me a couple of days to have a credit card to give them for billing purposes.
There is alot of good advice here. Stay in hotels in the city center! Check your US bank for their partners and take cash out in the local currency at an ATM. Make sure your credit cards are "chipped." Alot of countries will not accept credit cards without the chip. Pick up a cheap local cell phone so you have a local number but add a "global" plan onto your US cell phone so that you can keep in touch "state side." Contact your health insurance company and find out what your "overseas" insurance covers - for example, do you pay upfront and then get reimbursed, etc. Don't be afraid to ask questions. I spend alot of time in Mexico. You would be surprised how quickly prices change once I start asking questions. Learn "Are you sure about that?" in the local language. Informing your credit card companies and bank is a MUST.
I lived in SIngapore for three years as an ex-pat with my wife and children in the mid 80s. Prior to leaving for Singapore I attended some classes on the Singapore to understand the differences in the country's culture and what I would expect upon arrival. One thing that was pointed out was that living this far away from the USA, family and friends was that there would be a wave of emotions that would have highs and lows that would be dramatic at first and then slowly even out as time went by. The first wave is the excitement of the change and for the first two months you are on a high seeing everything that is new. At about 3-4 months you experience a low and you start thinking why did I do this, I miss my friends and family. I was told at this time to take the family for a vacation and just enjoy some area you have not been before. We went to Malaysia and had an exciting time that we still remember today. The peaks and valleys become smaller then. After a year you are basically in the new home. You still have those issues with Holidays and Weddings that you miss being away from. During these times we made the best of it. For Christmas we invited US military (Navy) people to our house for a Christmas meal and an afternoon away from the military for them and a "family" for us.
I think most people have mentioned above things I would do, but there are 2 that are slightly different
2) Let people I know in country know I am coming, and arrange to meet up with them. Also, contact anyone I know that has connections in that country and can get me letters of introduction.
When going to a non-English speaking country, I found that printing out addresses (hotel, office, etc) in local language in advance is a big help. I simply show the driver the address where I want to go, and most drivers have no problme getting me there. Also, whenever I am traveling, I always make sure that I have some loose change along with cash. There are places where taxi drivers will NEVER carry change, espcially when you are a foreigner.
There are some great tips here! I agree with someone who mentioned to check that your credit card doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee. These really add up. The new Marriott Rewards card doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, has a chip for added security and ease of use, and earns you points! Here are some other tips:
Seasoned travelers probably already are aware of these foreign currency issues:
I formerly took travelers' checks with me, but while somewhat safe, there were a hassle to cash - particularly in the UK. Then, I purchased foreign currency at my bank before departure, but this was more expensive. Now, I either use a bank ATM in country where I'm traveling for local currency. I do carry a minimum of USD with me just for "insurance", in case I need it.
Speaking of "insurance", everyone should check with their health insurance carriers about what - if anything - they will cover outside USA, * especially those who over 65 and are primarily dependent upon "Medicare". Another reason to carry a credit card (s) with sufficient credit limit to cover any unforeseen medical expenses!
Considering credit cards, I recently traveled in Canada and forgot and used my American Express Card for dinner. When I received my AMEX bill there was an extra $6.00 charge for currency exchange. I normally use VISA card in foreign countries as they don't charge this fee, and more places will accept VISA than AMEX.
Also, before I leave I go to my credit card account on Internet and set up "Alerts" for foreign travel, and notify them that I will be traveling in particular countries and charging hotels, autos, meals, etc. to my card.