Tips to navigate a country as a foreigner living abroad

A bit of planning can go a long way.

Living abroad in a foreign country is a lot like running a marathon. Many people admire your gumption, at times you'll wonder why you ever agreed to it because sometimes you just want to go back home and admit defeat, and it's something you'll be proud of the rest of your life.

Do your homework before taking the leap

The difficulty you'll face adjusting to your new locale greatly depends on where you choose to live. As a native English speaker, moving to a country whose official language is English will be a lot easier than moving to one where you can't even understand the characters on the street signs.

The weather may also be very different from what you are used to. Summer days stretch on for hours in the Nordic countries (Reykjavik holds the world record for the longest day in a capital city at 21 hours, 45 minutes), while winters are bleak and dark. Denizens of this chilly city only get four hours of daylight in winter. If you're someone who thrives in a sunny climate, you'll most likely be miserable for more than half the year if you move to Scandinavia.

Another thing to take into account is affordability. Unfortunately, affordability is usually inversely correlated with infrastructure, technology, comfort, and medical care. Take a look at rents in neighborhoods you'd want to live in, and investigate the costs of owning a car, or the convenience of the public transportation system. If you're set with the amenities, make sure wherever you're planning on living has a medical care system you're comfortable with. Don't expect Western-grade medical care in a developing nation (unless it's one known for medical tourism).

Make the leap

Once you've done your homework and decided that yes, you can see yourself living in a different country, it's time to plan out your finances. Will your stint be funded by savings, or will you need to work while living abroad? If you're planning on working, make sure you have the proper work permit. You may want to apply for jobs before moving, or if you'd rather start looking when you arrive, check out some interesting looking companies before you go.

Find your bearings

If you lived here, you would be home now

You've taken the plunge and you're now an official resident of a foreign country – congratulations! If your company hasn't arranged for living arrangements or you're abroad on your own, it's time to seek permanent housing. This is when both first-hand and second-hand research come in handy. The second-hand research can be done online. Look for rents within your budget, then see what is written about the neighborhoods in the area you want to live. Once you've narrowed down your search to a few potentials, visit the area during the weekend and at night, two times when it will probably be at its loudest and most crowded, to gauge your comfort level with the noise.

Unless you're planning on Venmo'ing money to your landlord, before you are able to sign a lease, you may need to open a local bank account to pay rent. Don't take this decision lightly. Like choosing a bank at home, make sure that your new one has a minimum balance you can afford, and that ATMs are national if possible. Part of the fun of living abroad is exploring your new host country; if you're stuck paying ATM fees when you cross into the neighboring city it's going hurt your finances.

The power of plastic

Side note: acquiring a credit card that doesn't charge fees for international purchases is a must. Unless, of course, such a card would send you into miserable spiraling debt. But, barring that, it's incredibly helpful to have a credit card at your disposal when you don't want to carry cash. Just check if it has an annual fee before applying. If you're only planning for using it for emergency purposes, paying $100 a year is probably not worth the fees you're avoiding on foreign transactions.

Stake out the local grocery options

Do as the locals do, eat as the locals eat

Depending on where you live, buying prepared (read: street or hawker) food may be incredibly inexpensive, or unaffordable for everyday meals. Or perhaps you enjoy the satisfaction of creating your own meals. Whatever your reason for buying groceries, make sure to check out a wide variety of stores or stalls before deciding on a favorite.

There's usually two or three types of grocery stores: one that's expat-friendly and wallet-unfriendly, the local haunt, and perhaps one that's suitably in between. The expat-friendly one carries your favorite brand of sugary cereal, but it will cost you $21 USD. These grocery stores cater to richer expatriates whose companies are funding their life abroad and who can't bear the thought of giving up their beloved foods from home. You'll be able to get a lot of the foods you would normally enjoy in your home country, but be prepared to shell out.

Start making some food memories

On the other end of the pendulum you'll find the markets the locals frequent. These are infinitely more fun, as they are bursting with foreign delicacies like jellyfish and pig snouts. They'll be less expensive, but depending on your familiarity with the local tongue, you may have difficulty deciphering the ingredients or price. Not to mention there are just some items that you can find at home that are simply not part of a culture abroad (vanilla flavored macadamia milk and organic kale and quinoa burgers, I'm looking at you) and will certainly not be available at local outposts.

Befriend both locals and other expats

Put yourself out there and you'll be rewarded

While it may seem counterintuitive to seek out other expats when living in a foreign country–I mean, the whole reason you're abroad is to experience a new way of living–having both types of friends can be quite fulfilling and helpful. Expats are the ones who will clue you into where to locate hard-to-find imported products, and often have helpful advice on navigating the local culture. Locals are wonderful for expanding your view of the world and to clue you in on the best holiday spots that tourists haven't ruined yet.

Culture clash

Know that your country of origin probably has some customs that foreigners find bizarre, and vice versa. Take note of these cultural land mines before they blow up in your face. Do some research on what is considered TMI and what are acceptable topics of conversation. Observe local customs (like taking off your shoes before entering a home, or exchanging business cards using both hands at once), and other non-verbal cues–people will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Living abroad is the adventure of a lifetime. It can be a bit challenging sometimes, but it's in these difficult moments that you'll grow the most. Perhaps this is the most rewarding souvenir of all.

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Tequila Herradura

Ride in style on the Herradura Express, a distillery sponsored train ride that runs from Guadalajara to the town of Amatitán for a distillery tour and tastings, followed by lunch featuring live entertainment. The train then takes visitors back to Guadalajara by evening. Herradura is housed in the last tequila-producing Hacienda in the world, Hacienda San Jose del Refugio. Casa Herradura will be closed for visits and tours until Mexican health officials declare the coronavirus emergency over.

La Rojeña

Producer of Jose Cuervo, La Rojeña has a train of its own called the Jose Cuervo Express (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) to bring visitors to the oldest distillery in the town of Tequila. Jose Cuervo offers distillery tours, tastings, and tours of the agave fields. Mundo Cuervo (Cuervo world) also has its own hotel, Solar de las Animas. Check for COVID-19 hours and restrictions before booking.

Casa Sauza

Founded in 1873, Casa Sauza offers four levels of tours including a visit to the La Perseverancia distillery, a visit to the Quinta Sauza estate, and for those willing to spend more, barrel tastings and a barbeque or a three-course meal. Casa Sauza is on hiatus until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but should go on the distillery tour bucket list.

La Cofradia

The only tequila distillery with a hotel inside, La Cofradia offers many experiences in addition to distillery tours. Choose a hike through natural trails, biking, or horseback riding through the agave fields. Rooms made of giant tequila barrels sit among the agave plants for a unique stay. Visiting La Cofradia is sure to be a tour that thrills tequila lovers. Contact the hotel directly for information about lockdown closures.

A distillery tour offers education about tequila's history and manufacture. Bone up on your tequila terms and tips for choosing quality tequila before you go, so you'll understand what you're tasting.

We don't know how to feel about winter this year. Sure, nobody likes the cold and dreary months, but there's something special about the Holiday season that just seems to be missing. Maybe the thought of staying inside and cozying up to a nice book isn't very enticing given the last few months. The joyful winter wonderland that we usually associate with winter seems to be missing.

That's why our editors decided to take it upon themselves and spread some delight with seasonal meals, courtesy of HelloFresh. For those who don't know what HelloFresh is, it's a meal-kit delivery service with dozens of easy-to-prepare recipes to choose from. Simply select which meals you want as well as how many servings and a neatly organized cardboard box will arrive at your doorstep within the week. Nobody wants to go out in the Winter anyway, and with HelloFresh, you don't have to!

To celebrate the arrival of the coldest season, we decided to highlight some of our favorite (and heartiest) recipes from HelloFresh that are perfect for the Holiday season. Here are five wholesome and balanced meals that will warm you up in no time.

Veggie Loaded Kale & Risoni Soup

A hearty and warm soup is a Winter staple and this veggie loaded kale and risoni soup from HelloFresh absolutely hits it out of the park. All anybody wants during the colder months is to feel cozy and nurtured--just like the flavorful bowl of nutrients. Warm and creamy risoni compliments the seasonal veggies perfectly and the side of garlic bread is a sure-fire cure for any winter blues. With 22 meals to pick from each week, this one is sure to be a household favorite.

Cheesy Red Pesto Chicken Melts

Everyone is familiar with classic green pesto, but have you ever tried red pesto? Red pesto offers way more complexity and oomph than its green counterpart. It is incredibly bright with rich notes of umami, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil and garlic. This rendition also features hits of chargrilled capsicum for a little extra zest. You get the exact amount of each ingredient and seasoning, as well as super detailed recipe cards, that make meal prep a breeze. Spread it over a glistening chicken bread and sprinkle with cheese for delectable chicken melts.

Winter Risotto

Risotto is a great winter warmer. It's packed full of veggies so your body will light up like fire, but it's also silky, sumptuous and a real crowd pleaser. HelloFresh's Winter Risotto features a heart helping of kale that pairs perfectly with nutty Parmesan and crunchy walnuts for a robust taste. Did we mention that it also comes with fennel seeds sprinkled throughout? This unique seasoning adds a distinctive, yet delicious flavor to this classic winter staple. We know these meals are pretty hardy, which is why we love having the option to pause our subscription or cancel a week when need be.

Cheat's Italian Pork & Veggie Bolognese

A bolognese that only takes 30 minutes to make? Sign us up! This one is chock full of all the rich flavors of a classic Italian sauce. In fact, we're getting some serious Italian grandmother vibes with this recipe. Silky baby Spanish and grated carrots melt into a hearty meat sauce, offering a mouth-watering meal for anyone looking for a little zest. It's delivery quality, but much more affordable, plus you get to cook it yourself!

Smokey Mild Chorizo & Bean Chilli

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Gone are the days of trekking through the frigid cold just for a few groceries. Sign-up for HelloFresh today and get your ingredients delivered right to your doorstep. Time to start cozying up the right way, with a delicious meal and a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Update: Our friends at HelloFresh are extending a special Black Friday offer to our readers. Follow this link to get $90 off across 4 boxes including free shipping!

Travel Tips

8 of the Best Donut Spots In the United States

Celebrate National Donut Day with our favorite treats across the country.

November 5th marks one of 2020's two National Donut Days.

Occurring in both June and November, National Donut Day allows fans of those delectable yeasty treats to embrace their sweet tooth. But like any niche food group, people often take their donuts very, very seriously, and there are countless places to get your fix.

Below, we've rounded up some of the best donut spots across the country. From coast to coast, these bakeries are sure to impress even the pickiest donut-heads.

Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop – Modesto, CA

Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop

If you ever find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area, it's worth taking a short trek out east towards Modesto for some of California's best donuts. Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop has remained family owned since its opening over 30 years ago, providing both tried-and-true classic donuts as well as experimental flavors and holiday specials. Even their 24-hour service doesn't diminish the line that trails out the door most mornings.

Dough — New York, NY

Dough \u2014 New York, NY

Donuts might not be the first circular, doughy treat you think of when it comes to New York City. If you've had your fair share of bagels, the Big Apple also boasts some spectacular donuts at Dough, a go-to spot for both tourists and locals alike. Here, you'll find a host of Latin American-inspired flavors that are hard to come by anywhere else; their Dulce de Leche flavor is a customer favorite, while the tangy Hibiscus donut is just as good for Instagramming as it is for eating.

Blackbird Doughnuts — Boston, MA

Blackbird Doughnuts \u2014 Boston, MA

Boston's Blackbird Doughnuts is a no-frills donut spot specializing in both brioche "raised" donuts and old-fashioned cake donuts. With a small menu of year-round donuts and a rotating cast of seasonal flavors, Blackbird keeps it simple and classic. Why mess around?

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop — Brooklyn, NY

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop \u2014 Brooklyn, NY

For over 60 years, Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop has been calling the quaint Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint home. Since then, the bakery has remained a popular spot for both regulars and new visitors passing through the area. Here, you won't find uber-trendy decor or gimmicky recipes, just damn good donuts that prove the power of long-standing local businesses.

Pip’s Original — Portland, OR

Pip\u2019s Original \u2014 Portland, OR

In both their mobile catering van and brick-and-mortar locations, Pip's Original is a staple for small, sweet treats in Portland. They're known for their tiny donuts that come in inventive seasonal flavors like marionberry-lavender and mango ghost pepper. But even if you opt for one of the more traditional flavors, Pip's Original proves good things can come in small packages.

Round Rock Donuts — Round Rock, TX

Round Rock Donuts \u2014 Round Rock, TX

Founded in 1926, Round Rock Donuts—located just north of Austin—are impossible to miss. These donuts' distinct yellow-orange color, caused by fresh eggs in the original recipe, make them stand out among the crowd. While this classic outpost can easily churn out hundreds of dozens of donuts a day, they also offer Texas-Sized Donuts, which are just as ginormous as you'd imagine. Round Rock Donuts are not only delicious and easily recognizable, but they're a slice of Lone Star history.

The Holy Donut — Portland, ME

The Holy Donut \u2014 Portland, ME

In Maine's Portland, you might not find tiny donuts or a decked-out catering van, but you will find a slightly healthier alternative. The Holy Donut was founded on the premise of creating tasty donuts that used all-natural ingredients to make a treat you could feel good about eating. The secret ingredient is fresh, mashed Maine potatoes, which make these donuts delectably moist without sacrificing flavor.

Donut Friend — Los Angeles, CA

Donut Friend \u2014 Los Angeles, CA

As expected of a city so focused on entertainment, Los Angeles' Donut Friend puts an edgy spin on their inventive donut flavors. Their year-round menu features donut flavors with names like Green Teagan and Sara, Fudgegazi, and Bacon-182 that are sure to delight the rock music nerds. For everyone else, the delicious donuts speak for themselves.