We firmly believe that everyone should live abroad at least once in his or her life. There is simply no better form of education and no better form or enriching one’s life than to travel for an extended period of time; so what better way to do this than to move to a new country and immerse yourself in a new culture?
Undoubtedly, you’re going to miss things from your lifestyle at home. Travel forces you to be outside of your comfort zone and to adapt to a new way of life. There is nothing from back home that we can’t live without, but there are definitely a ton of things that we do miss.
So we compiled a list of 15 things you’re guaranteed to miss when you move out of the United States.
1. Paying with a credit card
That travel credit card can only earn so many miles when you’re in a country like Greece or Croatia and every place you go tells you, “Sorry, the credit card machine is broken today. Tomorrow we can probably accept cards, but today it’s cash only.” Well, tomorrow it’s unfortunately the same story. Many countries who are struggling economically will be cash only so you can forget about paying for your pack of gum with your credit card. Not gonna happen.
2. “Traditional” bathrooms
Back home we know that our bathrooms will have a toilet with a seat, toilet paper, soap, a sink, etc. Our experiences abroad have ranged from bathrooms without TP, bathrooms without seats (so as to avert you from really using the facilities), toilets that are simply a hole in the ground, and of course, toilets where you ought not to flush TP at all (which means the waste bins generally leave the entire bathroom smelling to high heaven).
3. Large bath towels
Maybe it’s dumb luck but virtually every hotel and AirBnB we have stayed at over the past 5 months has provided towels that Americans would generally consider floor towels or hand towels. You know, the small 18×24 inch things you lay on the ground to avoid slipping when you step out of the shower? Yep, just about that size.
4. Traditional, large, American showers
We never realized just how much we absolutely LOVE our showers until we moved abroad. From showers that have no hot water to showers that are so small it’s physically impossible to shave ones legs, to weak water pressure and mediocre shower heads, we have encountered it all. Most times we feel like giants in a land of elves when trying to take a shower. (Think buddy the elf).
Shower curtains are even not a standard in many places, so we have definitely slipped on many bathroom floors. Also, many of them have simply been a bathtub with a shower head sitting in it so that you have to essentially hose yourself off to shower. Now, how to wash long hair with only one hand free? Hmm..
5. Proper Air Conditioning
Central heat and A/C are not as common as back in the States. Most of the air conditioning units we have encountered are the old school single unit on the wall that cool a room incredibly ineffectively. Sure, the room cools down, but the problem is that some parts of the room remain warm while others feel like you’re in Antarctica. That’s IF they even offer air conditioning, which many places abroad don’t.
6. Fast WiFi
WiFi is more prevalent in Europe in that more bars, restaurants etc. will offer free WiFi, but the speed is generally much slower. We honestly have to message AirBnB hosts before we book to make sure the WiFi i is adequate so we can work whilst traveling.
7. Detailed directions
In the States, if someone asked, “Hey, how do you get from point A to point B?” We would respond with detailed directions explaining every nook and cranny so that the person could find where they are seeking with ease.
In other countries, not so much. We have gotten lost plenty of times and when we ask for directions we generally get a response like, “Oh yeah, really close. Go over that way.” No street names, no landmarks, and most times no distance. So for those of you moving abroad, make sure to leverage Google maps as often as possible.
Having Uber everywhere you are at the drop of a hat is one of the most convenient technological advances of the past few years. Many cities such as Amsterdam, London, and Milan have recently launched Uber but they also generally only have black cars which cost significantly more than Uber X. Sure, you’ll find taxis, but they’re obviously less desirable, less efficient, and more expensive than our good friend Uber. Plus, it’s really annoying having to haggle a price with a language barrier and also (going back to #1, having to pay in cash).
9. Business hours that make life easy
In the US you can grab a meal from most restaurants during odd hours of the afternoon. You can count on stores of all sorts being open at a standard of 08:00 – 17:00 or perhaps even something like 07:00 – 22:00. On top of that, you’ll find grocery stores that are open from 05:00 until 02:00, so you can pretty much get anything you need at any time. Our experiences abroad with “siesta” have been quite aggravating, especially when we are hungry between 15:00 and 19:00.
10. Healthy snack options
Even at gas stations in the States you’ll find protein bars, fruit, healthy juices and other options to snack on while still keeping it healthy. Most of the snacks we have found on our travels have been processed, packaged, snack foods if any.
There is no explanation needed. Ice is a standard in the US. If you order a water, a soda, an alcoholic beverage, etc. you’re going to get it with a glass full of ice. However, this is not standard throughout the world. Many countries simply don’t use ice while others use ice that you shouldn’t consume. Many 3rdworld countries have tap water systems that are less than safe, so the ice made from this water is something you ought to avoid anyway.
12. Mega Gyms
Yes they have gyms all around the world and some countries have great gyms, but in our experience gyms have been twice as expensive for half the quality. Dumbbells generally stop at 32 or 40kg and you’re definitely not in for eucalyptus towels. We have also never found a deal that can rival something like 24 Hour Fitness where you can pay $30/month and have access to over 300 clubs across the United States.
Ok, so you can find it in some major European cities like London or Paris, but you have no idea how much you really are addicted to Chipotle until it’s 3 PM on a Wednesday and you’re starving and wishing you could just go somewhere close, spend $8, and stuff your glutinous face with a burrito and delicious quac!
14. Ease of life
Everything in the US is built for convenience. After moving abroad you will quickly learn that being able to drive 10 minutes down the road to a store that can offer everything you would ever want all under one roof is truly magical and is extremely hard to come by in any other country!
15. Family and friends
It goes without saying that home is where the heart is. It’s fairly easy to acclimate to new environments and going a few months or years without Chipotle might honestly be a good thing considering the recent news of E. coli outbreaks in the Pacific NW. The one thing, however, that everyone will agree upon is that you are going to miss your friends and family. With the technological advances we have it is relatively easy to keep in touch with everyone (if your WiFi is good enough of course) back home. Be sure to keep in touch with your home base and your time abroad will be even that much more rich.
You might not realize how important these 15 things are to you today, but when you move abroad, you’re going to undoubtedly realize that you miss them!