Expatriate Blog

Welcome to International Citizens Blog, with news, updates, and alerts! Our focus is to provide travelers and expatriates with a variety of tools, expert advice and specialized products and services to help improve your experience abroad. Whether you are looking for a short-term plan for your upcoming trip or if your lifestyle requires international travel, we offer a wide array of plans depending on your needs.

In today's global world, an international, nomadic life has become more common. Businesses are more globalized than ever before. Vacations to Tahiti are no longer just a dream. With the world becoming more connected through technology, it is now possible to work, travel and study anywhere in the world that you choose.

As always, our goal is to provide updated advice, useful resources and current news and events to keep our visitors up to speed on what is happening in their world. Feel free to participate in our forums, network with other like minded international citizens or simply keep up to date with news from around the world.

Bon voyage! and Travel Safe!

When I was young I remember my grandmother's stories of life in Ireland and her immigration to the US as an 18 year old girl. She came alone through Ellis Island and then up to Boston to stay with relatives. I always felt so proud her and of our country that welcomed her along with millions like her. That pride is slipping away. 

This weekend I shared an image of the Statue of Liberty on Facebook and a friend updated her profile picture with the image. I thought more people might like to do the same so I decided to upload a few different images for all of you to choose from. Pick a photo from below and post it to your Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and / or Instagam page. Let's remember what really does make America great and show our solidarity. Update your social media profile picture with one of the images below and let's ring the bells of freedom for all to see!

Recently, a new battle has emerged between airlines and travel agencies about how customers should purchase their international airline tickets. Over the last few years, many customers have used travel reservation websites to book flights instead of purchasing directly from the airline. These travel agencies allowed customers to compare prices among carriers, choosing the least expensive option and then purchasing the tickets right through their website.

Back when airlines had all inclusive services, this was not such a big deal since consumers were comparing apples-to-apples. As the airline industry directly competed on price, profit margins continued to slip as airlines raced to the top of the least pricey option. Entering into a price war, airlines realized they could no longer compete on price. Instead, airline carriers decided that they did not have to include all of these services in their initial ticket price and alternatively could charge separately at the time of service. Competing on ticket price was no longer as straightforward. With new fees popping up (i.e., baggage fee, meal fee, and beverage fee), consumers may have chosen the cheapest ticket price but in then end may be paying much more than any other competitively priced option.


That left consumers trying to figure out what the best way is to book an airline ticket and uncover any hidden costs.

Last year this question turned into a battle between companies. It all began when American Airlines announced its new reservation system called Direct Connect and offered it to Orbitz, an online travel reservation website. When Orbitz declined, American Airlines announced that it would no longer sell tickets through the agency as of December 21, 2010, when they were unable to reach an agreement for the contract renewal. Soon after, Expedia and its subsidiaries, Hotwire and TripAdvisor, announced that they would no longer sell American Airlines tickets on their site in alliance with Orbitz. Another company, Sabre, who owns Travelocity, decided that they would add additional service fees to American Airline tickets making prices uncompetitive to other carriers.

This brouhaha was furthered heightened when Delta Air Lines decided to change its way of business as well. Delta Air Lines stopped allowing CheapOAir.com, OneTravel.com, and BookIt.com to list its flights after December 17, 2010.

Delta Air Lines and American Airlines are both trying something new – they are encouraging consumers to stray from their typical strategy of purchasing tickets through third party agencies. The incentive? Airline carriers are now offering better rates if tickets are purchased directly.

Not only does that build more brand loyalty, but it will better connect consumers to the airline directly. If you are looking to price compare, we recommend using other travel reservation websites like Kayak and Priceline who continue to price these as well as other airlines competitively. You may also want to check out the airline’s website directly as they may be offering lower rates as an incentive to do business directly.

Advice: 5 Essential Tips When Preparing To Travel The World

An Overview of Singapore for Expatriates

Map SingaporeSingapore: a country that has a lot of history but is full of modern luxuries. From shopping to nightlife to being the world's greatest Grand Prix host- it offers appeal to even the most diverse crowds. It's no mystery why Singapore ranked second in the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey! If you're not familiar with everything that Singapore has to offer we will fill you in on what expats in Singapore have to say. The Expat Explorer survey has three areas, see how they rank:

Economics

Singapore ranked third overall in the category of economics but a closer look will show you the following: satisfaction with the host economy is ranked in 1st place while household income came in 6th and personal disposable income trickled behind in 11th. these results show that overall expats in Singapore are happy with their current economic situation.

If you caught our last post you know that we highlighted information on becoming an expat in Germany- it ranked fourth overall in the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey meaning it received great reviews from current expats. The only countries that ranked higher on the list than Germany include:

  • 1Switzerland
  • 2Singapore
  • 3China

Working our way up the list we are able to give you information on being an expatriate in China; the country which ranked third. China is the world's most populous country and has seen a swift economic incline. Here is what expats in China had to say.

Bon voyage! You’ve finally booked that luxury cruise to some exotic location a question occurs to you – Should I purchase travel insurance? The last thing you want to worry about is travel insurance and besides, what could go wrong? Trust me – there’s a myriad of things that can go wrong on a cruise vacation and having insurance can wash those worries away, allowing you focus on more important things like which swimsuit you should pack!

preparedWhether you're a US citizen traveling on vacation or to relocate permanently- you know that it's important to make sure your safety is not the last item on your check list. Here is a list of travel safety tips every US citizen should know.

germanyYou might already know that many musicians and poets come from Germany, their education system produces many top performers, beer and cars are included in their specialties list and their economy is lagging behind by only less than a handful of other countries in the world. But this alone might not be reason enough to convince you when it comes to becoming an expat in Germany.

Each year the HSBC Expat Explorer survey gives international travelers better insight into where they should relocate. Data is collected from current expats and compared across the board in the following three categories: Economics, Experience, Raising Children.

friends at tableWhen becoming an expat you are faced with many difficult options like where to live, what type of transportation to rely on, if you will take your pets along and where your children will go to school. Another difficult decision that you might not have to consciously make is if you will spend the majority of your time with other expats, or the locals. While you do have a conscious choice on who you befriend, sometimes friendships just fall into place. Since there are benefits to having local friends and expat friends, finding a fair balance in the number of expat and local friends you have can help you see the best of both worlds. Here are just a few reasons why both are great and it's worth finding the fair balance in your types of friends.

Whether flying for hours half way around the globe or simply a couple of hours to a neighboring country- flying can pose a few comfort challenges. Those who frequently travel are more often than not keeping an ear to the ground for the latest travel tip and trick. When I heard about a trick that could help me have an entire row to myself on a flight, of course I became excited and gave it a try. I've tested this trick out to give you a little more insight into the answer of "Does this travel tip work?" This is what happened:

hurricane125802273Hurricane and Typhoon season is official here. The Eastern Pacific season started May 15th and just recently on June 1st the Atlantic hurricane season also began. Unlike other natural disasters like tornados or earthquakes, hurricanes often give those who will be effected time to prepare. However, it's still important to be prepared before a warning is even in place. If you're a new expat to an area that experiences hurricanes or typhoons, this season can be especially frightening for you. However, here are a few tips from the National Hurricane Center that you will want to keep in mind to prepare for hurricane and typhoon season.

shoppingMany countries around the world take part in haggling when it comes to shopping- a tradition of back and forth bartering between a seller and purchaser. The style and etiquette of haggling may slightly vary depending on the country you will be visiting or relocating to- so you will want to also check tips specific to the host country you will be in. However, to get started here are few of the basic tips for haggling that you must know!

warning sign 480654671Summer is here and even if you don’t plan to relocate any time soon, if you have a vacation coming up, make sure that you’re not going somewhere that is on this list of countries with travel warnings! Check out what new travel warnings the US Department of State have added to the list.

Each month the US Department of State continuously releases travel warning and alerts for countries around the world. Although these warnings have been created by the US government and speaks directly to US citizens- they are a helpful resources for anyone traveling abroad as they raise light to current conditions. If you haven't been able to catch the news lately to keep up on your world events make sure you review the travel warnings and alerts before you take your trip abroad.

Every country has at least one great health tip to take note of and adopt. We have compiled a few great tips that you as an expat are sure to want to include in your diet and routine. Check out the suggested tips and start taking advantage of them. Whether you are trying to eat right and exercise to live a healthy life or simply for beach season, get a few new suggestions to help your efforts!

If you're planning a trip to Beijing there are a few key things you won't want to miss out on: a trip to the great wall, exploring the Forbidden City, and of course shopping. Like in most cities in China, Beijing has a number of opportunities to shop. One of the more exciting parts of shopping in Beijing? Naming your own price! Ask a fair price for the item you're trying to bring home, and it will be yours…as long as you follow the rules of haggling.

apps on techTechnology has made the world of travel even more convenient! If you aren't already taking advantage of apps to make your life easier- the time to start is now. Here are just a few great apps for living abroad and will hopefully make your time overseas run smooth.

78029849Life happens- even when traveling and living abroad. This of course opens the door to a number of life-altering changes including marriage and divorce. If you want to get married while abroad or need to get a divorce and would like the United States to recognize your legal action, start your research here to know where to turn to take the first step.

social mapIf you're traveling without a loved one- especially for a long period of time, it's not always an easy road. Keeping in contact with those you had to leave behind is important, but often difficult to find ways other than talking on the phone to stay up to date on their life- and keep them up to date on yours. Here are a few ways to keep in touch while abroad.

quarantineAs a traveler, it's important to stay up to date on health matters around the world. Doing so can ensure the safety of yourself and your family. The Ebola outbreak has become a concerning matter as it continues to spread through West Africa- know the facts and if you're at risk.

In mid-March there were a total of 49 Ebola cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from south-eastern Guinea. By early April the WHO began working with national authorities in response to an Ebola outbreak in West Africa as the number of cases quickly increased. As of July 31, 2014, there were 1,323 reported cases and 729 confirmed deaths, according to the WHO. Cases of Ebola have since spread and appeared not only in Guinea (460 cases; 339 deaths), but also in Liberia (329 cases; 156 deaths), Nigeria (1 case; 1 death), and Sierra Leone (533 cases; 233 deaths).

warning sign 480654671Each month the United States Department of State issues new travel warnings and travel alerts. Those who are traveling should check these warnings before they travel to ensure that their destination country does not have an active warning or alert. Travelers can view the May Travel Warnings here:

April 4th: Kenya

Due to recent threats of terrorism, the level of risk has increased within Kenya. Travelers should evaluate their personal safety situation before travels to Kenya.

April 10th: Sudan: Kenya

This warning is to replace the travel warning issued in October 2013. Due to past attacks, the US government urges all travel to the Darfur region of Sudan, the Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states to be avoided when possible.

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