How to Survive a Long-haul Flight

With the development of the commercial aviation industry, non-stop flights have become longer — no one could have imagined back in the 1950s that the journey from the UK to Australia which was made of nine layovers would become a 17-hour direct flight. As an expat, you are probably travelling more often than the average person; it’s therefore important for your mental and physical well being to know how to manage discomfort during eight, ten, or seventeen hours of flying.

Reserve a seat that meets your needs

What is a good seat for you, isn’t necessary for your co-passenger. If you are the type of flyer who falls asleep before the takeoff and wakes up just before landing, definitely secure a window seat. Not only you won’t be disturbed by walking-down-the-aisle-passengers and crew members, but also you won’t make those sitting next to you feel uncomfortable for having to wake you up every time they need to use the lavatory. Exit seats offer some extra leg room, but you must be physically able and willing to perform emergency actions, as well as not accompanying children under the age of 15.

Wear comfortable clothes

Don’t make long-haul flights more tiring than what they already are by squeezing yourself in tight jeans or wearing synthetic materials which don’t let your skin breath. The ideal traveller’s outfit has layers to help you manage the changes in temperature throughout the journey, and is composed of wrinkle-resistant items. For example, wear trousers that stretch, a t-shirt, and a cardigan, and choose comfortable footwear — remember feet usually swell during air travel due to inactivity.

Pack your carry-on smartly

Unless you are travelling business or first-class, every inch of your limited space in the economy class is vital for your comfort. Thus, it’s crucial to use the space under the seat in front of you to stretch your legs rather than keep your handbag. To achieve this practicality, you should limit the amount of stuff you bring on board, and store, all except the necessary, in the overhead bin. Keep in the pocket in front of you your book, headphones, neck pillow, and a toilet kit. The rest, such as your laptop, scarf, or notebook, you can reach out for when needed — it’s a good opportunity also to stretch your legs.

Stay hydrated

The cabin air is cool and dry, and the humidity levels are between ten to 20% — lower than in the Sahara desert. However, the average human body is used to higher numbers of humidity (30 to 60%). To reduce the symptoms of dehydration and jet lag (e.g. fatigue, headaches, nausea), and to make up for the water your body loses during the flight, you should drink about a plastic airline cup of water for every flying hour. If you cannot resist the in-flight alcohol, keep in mind that alcoholic beverages don’t count towards dehydration; quite the contrary.

Be kind to cabin crew

Generally speaking, being kind to people who serve you is a principle. However, when you are at 30,000 feet altitude, you have some extra reasons to bring your best self to the plane. The more the flight attendants positively notice you, the better service you will get during the flight — yes, the extra blanket and snacks will feel like a much-needed luxury after the seventh hour of flying. So, put on your big smile, leave your stresses outside the cabin, and let the people in charge help you enjoy your flight.

Get some sleep

Sleeping is probably the best way to pass the time on a long-haul flight. However, the limited space, the noise, and often the nerves can make it difficult for you. To create a more comfortable space, recline your seat back after you have given the person behind you a heads up, slip off your shoes, and wrap yourself with the blanket to stay warm and cosy. Use your traveller’s accessories (neck pillow, sleep mask, earplugs or earphones) for extra comfort.

Move around

Getting into the habit of moving regularly during the flight is essential to help your blood flow, and prevent from the unpleasant symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is blood clots in the legs. Toilet breaks are an excellent opportunity also to stretch your legs, as long as you choose to use the most inaccessible lavatory which demands a longer walk down the aisle. Also, there are basic stretching exercises for flyers, such as pointing your toes, pulling your calves, and moving your ankles in round movements.

Expand your network

Spending many hours next to a stranger and facing the same uncomfortable conditions are good enough reasons to get to know this person. Initiating a conversation with your co-passenger can help you find out something new about your destination, or who knows? — Maybe this is the contact you have been longing to help you find accommodation or give you expat advice because they have been there done that. As an expat, you should get into the habit of expanding your social network with every given opportunity, and this is definitely a good one.

Complete a pending task

If you left your office in a hurry the day before, or you have yet to complete a freelance project whose deadline is approaching, you can use the flying hours to make some progress with your work. Make sure your laptop is fully charged, and that you can access your documents while offline if you don’t wish to pay the extra charges for in-flight Wi-Fi.

Enjoy the in-flight entertainment

In-flight entertainment is a guaranteed way to pass your time in a relaxed and fun way. Whether you decide to do a movie marathon, listen to your favourite music, or play candy storm, airlines have made sure there’s something for every taste and age. However, we strongly recommend you avoid watching the interactive map on your screen, which shows the route along with facts about your flight (e.g. altitude, outside temperature, hours left to go), as it has the opposite effect than helping the time pass by fast. The map is actually a reminder of how slow and restrictive the flying experience can be. These days, many planes have power outlets (even for economy seats), so you may even be able to power your own entertainment device, if you have something you’d rather watch than what’s on offer on the built-in screen.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: Expat.com [1], [2]. Image sources: Ashim D’Silva [1], [2].

The Challenges of Developing and Maintaining Friendships as an Expat

Building friendships as an expat
Making new friends and maintaining an established friendship is one of the biggest challenges for expats. But remember: there are other people looking for friends like you! Others who are also new to your location, hoping to make indelible impressions that will translate into long-lasting friendships; friendships that will evolve into late evenings, trying out new restaurants together, and sharing brunch on Saturday mornings.

Forming long-lasting bonds
Some people are lucky to form lasting bonds. Given that most expats are almost always in transit, though, friendship in the form of seeing the other often lasts only a short while. Some stay friends on social media while others find that certain friendships fizzle out, having served their purpose.

And then there are those who are brave enough to start a new friendship all over again with another friend or couple. They are in it to win. They believe that, somewhere out there, is the friend (or group of friends) that will be just the match they are looking for! They will go on long weekend trips together and sit around a bonfire while their children play together. They will share many memories and milestones. That is the goal after all, to create a “new family” abroad, and this is what real friends are.

The challenge for long-term expats
We can all agree that one of the worst parts of being an expat is having to regularly say goodbye to friends. Either they are leaving, or you’re leaving, or both!

It is no easy task saying goodbye over and over again. It sometimes makes you wonder what the point is of investing in friendships when you know that one of you will move in a couple of years. This creates a sense of the temporary, of less stability. Friends come, you invest in them, then they leave and you may feel lonely in a host country which seems so familiar but is without real friends to enjoy it. Some long-term expats admit that they will always ask how long the other person will stay and, if the answer is a year or less, they distance themselves. They get detached to protect themselves from another painful goodbye.

Don’t let fear rule
Can you really limit who you like and want to spend time with? How can you stop yourself when you are attracted to a person’s friendship? Why lose an opportunity for friendship because of fear or a past experience? Perhaps it can help to approach this from a different perspective: because your time together may be limited, you know to enjoy the friendship to the fullest and make the most out of it.

What about the locals?
Here is another solution for having meaningful friendships as long-term expats: make friends with locals. Mingle with them, learn about the local culture and the language. Moreover, there is a bigger chance that the friendship will last longer as they are less likely to move away. Of course, nobody can guarantee that that your time together will be infinite.

Real friendships last a lifetime
Friends do not always have to be together to remain friends. Good friends may be separated for years, but when they meet again, they feel as close to each other as they used to. Real friendships last forever. And even though your friends might get busy with their own families, love life or work, all it will take is a little message or a reunion to rekindle all the happy memories and make new ones in the process.

For the long-term expats out there who have said goodbye countless times to their friends or who feel lonely because some of their best friends are a continent away, remember your friends in other places and know that the friendship and love are not gone! They are still there, perhaps in different times zones, but waiting for you to (re)connect or plan your next meet-up.

Remember: having to say goodbye to your friends is one of the worst things of being an expat, but saying hello to them again is just about the best thing!

Don’t let yourself be discouraged
Having a strong friendship is one of most beautiful parts of life and aspects of us being human: laughing out loud, going out for movies, singing songs, making crazy plans about marriage, career and life.

To all the expats out there sitting at home waiting for that Skype call, shorten the conversation on Skype, and get out.

Don’t be discouraged if your first evening at a social event doesn’t yield a Saturday spent at the beach with your newly found friends. Attend the next meeting, and the next one. Eventually, bonds will form, and you will have your coveted long weekends or day at the beach with friends.

It takes time to build long-lasting friendships, and common experiences and values will lead you to this gift.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: Vivian Chiona (Expat Nest) [1], [2]. Image sources: Val Vesa [1], [2].

Relocation Africa Attending EuRA Munich 2019

Relocation Africa Director Rene Stegmann will be representing the company at EuRA’s 2019 International Relocation Congress in Munich. The conference will take place between 30 April and 3 May 2019.

The European Relocation Association (EuRA) is a professional industry body for relocation providers and affiliated services. As a non-profit organisation EuRA aims to promote the benefits of a professionally managed relocation to companies with globally mobile employees.

The 2019 EuRA International Relocation Congress will take place in the stunning Bavarian capital Munich. This ancient city is a centre of commerce and manufacturing and is currently ranked number 4 in Mercers Most Liveable Cities index.

The 2019 Conference theme is “Celebrate the Future | Opportunity Defined”. EuRA aims to move away from the VUCA paradigm and concentrate on the opportunities that change can bring. Each year EuRA works hard to deliver exceptional learning and networking opportunities and 2019 will be no different. A program of training, breakout and plenary sessions and keynote speakers has been planned. The primary venue is the Hilton Munich Park, set in the Englischer Garten – a pleasant 20 minute away from the city.

Tickets for the conference have sold out, and non-delegate sponsorships are full. The conference will also feature a Gala Dinner in the Paulaner Brauhaus, one of the great Munich Bier Kellers.

For an overview of the conference program, click here. For a list of sponsors, click here.

To arrange to meet with Rene during the conference period, kindly send a mail to marketing@relocationafrica.com.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

What Makes a Good Traveler?

Traveling can be a busy, stressful experience. There are a lot of things one can do to make the experience more enjoyable, but it’s not just about looking after yourself. It’s also about taking your fellow travelers into account. Below is a list, compiled by Kristin Newman and posted on Joburg Expat, about a few things that could make you a better traveler, and by extension, a better expat.

What Makes a Good Traveler?

  1. You are open. You say yes to what comes your way, whether it’s a foreign food you’ve never tried, or an adrenaline-inducing experience you’ve never considered taking part in. You say yes because it is the only way to really experience another place, and let it change you. This is the mark of a great trip.
  2. You venture to the places where the tourists aren’t, in addition to hitting the “must-sees.” There are many lesser-known sights, that can provide a more personal, relaxing, and less tourist-oriented experience that may be much more memorable. Or at least provide some photos that aren’t full of other visitors.
  3. You are easygoing about sleeping/ eating/ comfort issues. You don’t change rooms three times, you’ll take an overnight bus if you must, you can go without meat in India, etc. Sometimes during travel, there are compromises to be made. After all, it’s not as though most people set out to travel so that they can have the same experiences they have at home.
  4. You are aware of your travel companions, and of not being contrary to their desires/ needs/ schedules more often than necessary. If you find that you want to do things differently than your companions, you happily tell them to go on without you in a way that does not sound like you’re saying, “This is a test.” And it’s perfectly fine to split up, do different things, and meet back up again later.
  5. You can figure it out. How to read a map, how to order when you can’t read the menu, how to find a bathroom, or a train, or a castle. Modern technology makes this much easier these days.
  6. You know what the trip is going to cost, and can afford it. If you can’t afford the trip, don’t go. If you do it, you might as well do it properly. Conversely, if your travel companion can’t afford what you can afford, you are willing to slum it in the name of camaraderie.
  7. You are aware of cultural differences, and go out of your way to blend. This includes things like greetings and dress codes. Basically, just be aware of what the culturally-accepted norm is, and acknowledge that you need to respect the practices/traditions of the place you’re visiting or moving to. Not everyone does things the way you do, and that’s what makes the world beautifully diverse. Think of these situations as learning opportunities.
  8. You are polite when dealing with local hotel clerks/ train operators/ tour guides etc. This can go a long way towards a more enjoyable trip.
  9. You are able to go with the flow in a spontaneous, non-uptight way if you stumble into something amazing that will bump some plan off the day’s schedule. Missing one planned thing on your itinerary may allow for an even more enjoyable, unplanned activity.

There you have it. A few simple tips to ensure you have more enjoyable travels. For information about where your country’s international agreements allow you to travel visa-free, visit Arton’s 2019 Passport Index website, by clicking here.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: Joburg Expat [1], [2]. Image sources: Jay Dantinne [1], [2].

15 Destinations South Africans Can Visit Visa-Free in 2019

Residence and citizenship planning company, Henley & Partners, recently published its Passport Index for 2019. With its citizens enjoying visa-free access to 101 countries in total, South Africa is the third highest African country on the index.

The number of counties is down from 102 in 2018, with South Africans now requiring a visa to enter Turkey – although this can be done through a simple online process designed to issue your visa within 48 hours.

Below are 11 countries South Africans can travel to visa-free right now.

1: Panama (Visa-free for 180 days)

Panama is a country on the isthmus linking Central and South America. The Panama Canal, a famous feat of human engineering, cuts through its center, linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to create an essential shipping route. In the capital, Panama City, modern skyscrapers, casinos and nightclubs contrast with colonial buildings in the Casco Viejo district and the rainforest of Natural Metropolitan Park.

2: Peru (Visa-free for 180 days)

Peru is a country in South America that’s home to a section of Amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city high in the Andes mountains. The region around Machu Picchu, including the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail and colonial city of Cusco, is rich in archaeological sites. On Peru’s arid Pacific coast is Lima, the capital, with a preserved colonial center and important collections of pre-Columbian art.

3: Philippines (Visa-free for 30 days)

The Philippines is a Southeast Asian country in the Western Pacific, comprising more than 7,000 islands. Its capital, Manila, is famous for its waterfront promenade and centuries-old Chinatown, Binondo. Intramuros, a walled city in colonial times, is the heart of Old Manila. It’s home to the baroque 17th-century San Agustin Church as well as Fort Santiago, a storied citadel and military prison.

4: South Korea (Visa-free for 30 days)

South Korea, an East Asian nation on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, shares one of the world’s most heavily militarized borders with North Korea. It’s equally known for its green, hilly countryside dotted with cherry trees and centuries-old Buddhist temples, plus its coastal fishing villages, sub-tropical islands and high-tech cities such as Seoul, the capital.

5: Thailand (Visa-free for 30 days)

Thailand is a Southeast Asian country. It’s known for tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha. In Bangkok, the capital, an ultramodern cityscape rises next to quiet canalside communities and the iconic temples of Wat Arun, Wat Pho and the Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew). Nearby beach resorts include bustling Pattaya and fashionable Hua Hin.

6: Macau (Visa-free for 30 days)

Macau is an autonomous region on the south coast of China, across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong. A Portuguese territory until 1999, it reflects a mix of cultural influences. Its giant casinos and malls on the Cotai Strip, which joins the islands of Taipa and Coloane, have earned it the nickname, “Las Vegas of Asia.” One of its more striking landmarks is the tall Macau Tower, with sweeping city views.

7: Hong Kong (Visa free for 30 days)

Hong Kong is an autonomous territory, and former British colony, in southeastern China. Its vibrant, densely populated urban centre is a major port and global financial hub with a skyscraper-studded skyline. Central (the business district) features architectural landmarks like I.M. Pei’s Bank of China Tower. Hong Kong is also a major shopping destination, famed for bespoke tailors and Temple Street Night Market.

8: Fiji (Visa-free for 120 days)

Fiji, a country in the South Pacific, is an archipelago of more than 300 islands. It’s famed for rugged landscapes, palm-lined beaches and coral reefs with clear lagoons. Its major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, contain most of the population. Viti Levu is home to the capital, Suva, a port city with British colonial architecture. The Fiji Museum, in the Victorian-era Thurston Gardens, has ethnographic exhibits.

9: Chile (Visa-free for 90 days)

Chile is a long, narrow country stretching along South America’s western edge, with more than 6,000km of Pacific Ocean coastline. Santiago, its capital, sits in a valley surrounded by the Andes and Chilean Coast Range mountains. The city’s palm-lined Plaza de Armas contains the neoclassical cathedral and the National History Museum. The massive Parque Metropolitano offers swimming pools, a botanical garden and zoo.

10: Belize (Visa-free)

 

Belize is a nation on the eastern coast of Central America, with Caribbean Sea shorelines to the east and dense jungle to the west. Offshore, the massive Belize Barrier Reef, dotted with hundreds of low-lying islands called cayes, hosts rich marine life. Belize’s jungle areas are home to Mayan ruins like Caracol, renowned for its towering pyramid; lagoon-side Lamanai; and Altun Ha, just outside Belize City.

11: Bahamas (Visa-free for 90 days)

The Bahamas is a coral-based archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. Its 700-plus islands and cays range from uninhabited to packed with resorts. The northernmost, Grand Bahama, and Paradise Island, home to many large-scale hotels, are among the best known. Scuba diving and snorkeling sites include the massive Andros Barrier Reef, Thunderball Grotto (used in James Bond films) and the black-coral gardens off Bimini.

12: Indonesia (Visa-free for 30 days)

Indonesia, a Southeast Asian nation made up of thousands of volcanic islands, is home to hundreds of ethnic groups speaking many different languages. It’s known for beaches, volcanoes, Komodo dragons and jungles sheltering elephants, orangutans and tigers. On the island of Java lies Indonesia’s vibrant, sprawling capital, Jakarta, and the city of Yogyakarta, known for gamelan music and traditional puppetry.

13: Ireland (Visa-free for 90 days)

The Republic of Ireland occupies most of the island of Ireland, off the coast of England and Wales. Its capital, Dublin, is the birthplace of writers like Oscar Wilde, and home of Guinness beer. The 9th-century Book of Kells and other illustrated manuscripts are on show in Dublin’s Trinity College Library. Dubbed the “Emerald Isle” for its lush landscape, the country is dotted with castles like medieval Cahir Castle.

14: Singapore (Visa-free for 30 days)

Singapore, an island city-state off southern Malaysia, is a global financial center with a tropical climate and multicultural population. Popular attractions include Gardens by the Bay, Universal Studios Singapore, Chinatown, the Singapore Zoo, the Merlion statue, Clarke Quay, and the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

15: Argentina (Visa-free for 90 days)

Argentina is a massive South American nation with terrain encompassing Andes mountains, glacial lakes and Pampas grassland, the traditional grazing ground of its famed beef cattle. The country is famous for tango dance and music. Its big, cosmopolitan capital, Buenos Aires, is centered on the Plaza de Mayo, lined with stately 19th-century buildings including Casa Rosada, the iconic, balconied presidential palace.

 

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Octavio Fossatti [1], [2], Cahal Pech Village Resort [3], Florian Wehde [4], Dennis Rochel [5], Fancycrave [6], Leighton Smith [7], Sander Crombach [8].