How to adapt to life in another country?

Our ancestors have done it. Perhaps someone you know has done it too. But what does it really takes to pack up and start a life in a new country? And how to be successful?


Every year thousands of people migrate for different reasons. The issue of refugees that flee their home country seeking asylum are a different topic all together and I will not attempt to cover here. I’m only talking about those who decide to leave their birth country in search of a better life for themselves and their families.

I see too often individuals arrive here in the USA thinking that they know the reason they moved (improving their fluency in English; pay up bills and recover from financial difficulties and to invest for their future in their home country, and so on), however, as time goes by, many fail to resist the temptations of a capitalist culture and they end up postponing their return.

Whatever your goal is, stay focused and the results will speak for themselves.


Once you know exactly what you want to accomplish, take a significant time to plan. Are you going alone? What language is spoken in that country? What visas, permits and documents will be necessary?

a. Planning and execution will take time. While you are preparing, try to learn as much as you can if the country’s language if it is different than yours. This is a very important step that will facilitate everything else.

b. Research and verify that you meet all the visas and entrance requirements to avoid surprises.

c. If you are relocating through employer or work, ask questions, check the accommodations they are arranging, research school district, talk to other employees that have relocated before. You might not get all answers but don’t leave your future and that of your family completely in someone else’s hand.

d. If you are going on your own, make sure you have enough money for general expenses (such as accommodation, , transportation, food, season clothing, documents such as driving licenses, professional licenses, and so on) and for those unexpected circumstances.

e. Enlist the help of a reputable and experienced travel agency. Make sure to ask questions and understand the entire process, from packing, documentation, the trip, arrival, customs and immigration. Do some research online as well.

f. Purchase tickets well in advance to ensure a reasonable price.

g. Before boarding, make sure you have at hand all documents necessary to go through immigration and customs. Ask questions and don’t make assumptions. Follow all the directions given by the travel agency, the airline personnel at boarding, during trip and at arrival.


a. Go with an open mind. It usually takes about three months or more so that someone feels totally at ease in a new environment, so don’t worry if you’re still feeling homesick or anxious after two months. You’ll only have a good idea how life will be in that place after you’ve been there for a while. Do not press to feel comfortable at the beginning.

b. Make sure you have someone you trust in your new destiny and that you always have enough money to leave the country. It’s never good to feel trapped. These two things will set the scenario so that you slowly go to become comfortable.

c. Find a job involving interaction with other people. This will help you get used to the new environment and learn the local language faster. The sooner this happens, the better you’ll adjust. Changing country with a job in Vista is a wise attitude, but, if that’s not possible, this should be your first priority.
However, you do not necessarily need to be hired: You can also move to study. Working or studying, you will keep in touch with the locals, practise the language and learn the culture of the country. Besides filling your pockets, of course.

d. Make friends who speak the local language. So you will have the opportunity to practise and you can integrate more rapidly into the country. If you think you don’t speak the language well enough, you can do some language courses, where you will meet other immigrants from the whole world. Do not be intimidated, learning a new language is difficult and most cultures are accustomed to foreigners who are not incredibly fluent in their language.
If you believe that you are fluent enough, you can also find a boyfriend, which would be a great way to learn the language and your idiosyncrasies, as it will help you.


Two of my favorite travel show hosts Andrew Zimmern and Rick Steves have come out strongly against crowd sourcing apps such as Yelp as a means of getting recommendations. It has been reported that as many as 30% of the reviews on Yelp are fake so how can you make a reasonable decision based on their information? These are all very valid concerns and must always be kept in mind when using the app. Without the culinary contacts of an Andrew Zimmern or the travel contacts of a Rick Steves how can an independent traveler find a good restaurant when in a strange city? Their suggestion is to talk to the locals and get a recommendation from them. Excellent advise but not always practical. When I need to I do use Yelp to help find a good restaurant and I find it to be very useful. I will give you an example. We were driving back from Burlington, Vermont to our home in New Hampshire, it was around lunch time and we decided to get something to eat. We were in the White River Junction / Lebanon, New Hampshire area. I yelped restaurants in the area and scrolled through the hits. One of the results we saw was for a Korean/Japanese restaurant called Yama.

New photo by Wanderlust Family Adventure / Google Photos

The restaurant had over 100 reviews and an overall rating of 4½ stars out of five. A small little hole in the wall place tucked into a back lot and totally invisible to routine traffic flow I would have never found without Yelp. The food was incredible and the dining experience was great.
My rule of thumb for using Yelp is to note the number of reviews an establishment has and to look through the pictures. If a location has less than 20 reviews than you eat at your own risk, but if there are more than twenty reviews and the pictures look appetizing than go for it. Unless there are many reviews (>50) I do not put much credence in the rating as it can be skewed one way or the other by individual ratings.
Another example is on a trip to Jersey City, New Jersey we were going to arrive in town in the late evening, a restaurant search yielded many middle eastern and Turkish restaurants in the area. Realizing that there must be a prominent ethic population I narrowed my search parameter to these cuisines. I settled on a restaurant called The Bosphorus and again the food and experience were incredible.

New photo by Wanderlust Family Adventure / Google Photos

Again Yelp led us in the right direction. In summary when you have time by all means get a local recommendation but if you do not have that option use the Yelp app wisely and you will get rewarding results.

Road Trip How To – Tips and Comments

I have traveled to 44 of the 50 states and to 9 of the Canadian provinces by personal vehicle.  From my base in New England I have driven as far as Florida to the south, Arizona and Idaho to the West and Alaska to the north.  I have driven from New England across the Trans-Canadian highway to the Alaska highway to Delta Junction, Alaska and on to the end of the road in Homer.  Our family takes as many road trips as possible every year and to us the journey is every bit a part of travel as the destination.

What is our method of long distance road tripping and how do we handle the long hours of driving?  There are two keys that are most important.  First is to not waste time, every minute you spend packing up or looking for something misplaced is a minute you are not on the road.  The second thing is to make sure you take frequent breaks and plan at least one activity or sight during the day.

Leaving early each morning is critical.  Whether leaving from home or from a hotel pack the night before and be ready to leave as soon as possible in the morning.  Have sandwiches or breakfast ready to go that can be eaten in the car.  If necessary stop for fast food on the fly.  Have car snacks available to be munched on during the day and nibble through lunch or get something on the go.

When first leaving in the morning I will drive for four hours without stopping.  After four hours you should plan on stopping at an attraction for about an hour.  Research the night before something of interest in the general direction you are heading.  It could be a small museum, a roadside attraction, a National or State Park site or a scenic area.  By all means get off the main highway and take whatever detour necessary.

If you have a way point destination that you want to spend more time at I plan to arrive not later than 1:00 PM and will stay the night in the area.  If you are going to drive through plan on stopping every two hours to stretch your legs and get the circulation flowing.  I will start to look for accommodation between 4:00 and 5:00.  This allows time to have a nice meal, explore the local area or just relax and read or research the next day’s travel itinerary.  If you need additional travel time to get to a certain place add it on by leaving earlier in the morning, never try to push it later in the evening.

Whenever possible we get by with nibbling our way through breakfast and lunch with the occasional fast food stop to supplement.   We try to have a good meal at the end of the day to get some good nutrition but also to get a flavor of the local scene where you are staying for the night. I have included a list of some of the items we bring for road trips.  We pack before we leave by doing a big grocery shop the night before and supplement supplies as we go.

Road Trip Car Snacks

  • Jerky (beef or turkey as per your preference)
  • Frozen bottles of water
  • Bottled water
  • Trail Mix – We make two types from scratch one sweet and one savory obviously make your own combination to your liking
    • Sweet (M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, Milk Chocolate Chips, White Chocolate Chips, Dried fruit pieces)
    • Savory (Cashews, Corn Nuts, Soy Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Macadamia Nuts, Walnuts)
  • Granola Bars (energy bars can be added or substituted)
  • Hard rolls that will last for several days
  • Cold cuts and sliced deli cheese
  • String cheese
  • Meat sticks (pepperoni, Slim Jims, etc.)
  • Hard block cheese for slicing
  • Salty snacks (Pringles and Potato sticks work well because of the rigid containers)
  • Olive and pickled pepper medley (most supermarkets have olive bars these days) We carry a sturdy plastic Tupperware container to transfer from the flimsy store plastic package.  If you do not switch containers the oily olives will get into everything.

Trip Planning How To – Short Trip

Following are the steps that we take when planning a short trip over a long weekend or over a three to four day period.

  1. Step one is to identify where it is you want to go.  The most obvious locations for a short trip are individual cities, regional areas, or festivals.
  2. Once you identify where it is you are going decide if you will be driving, taking public transport or flying.
    1. If you are flying research flights and utilize any frequent flyer type benefits you may have accrued.  I always research hotels and flights at the same time prior to booking either one.  If you have the right flight book it.
    2. Research the bus and train schedules and make any arrangements needed to get to the terminal.
    3. Researching your route by car is not as important in the days of GPS but it is still advisable to look at a map before you go too get the general lay of the land.
  3. Book your accommodations for your stay; hotel. air B&B, couch surfing, etc.
  4. Yelp the area you are traveling to
    1. Use the Yelp app to bookmark restaurants in the area that you will want to go to
  5. Google the are you are traveling to to identify points of interest and activities
  6. Draw up a tentative itinerary to include the points of interest, activities and restaurants you want to take in.  Be sure to leave enough wiggle room to adjust accordingly for unseen interruptions or unexpected attractions you will want to see.

The important thing is to be flexible so that you can take advantage of the unexpected but plan enough so that you do not miss any of the highlights.


The Seven Pillars of a Homestead Lifestyle – How To

I have dabbled with a homestead or off the grid lifestyle for years practicing some of the skills needed but was never able to give up the amenities I was used to or willing to put in the work and effort necessary to make the transition.  My love for travel has also been at odds with this type of lifestyle.

New photo by Wanderlust Family Adventure / Google Photos
New photo by Wanderlust Family Adventure / Google Photos

Far from being an expert and with limited first hand experience take my advise for what it is, musings of a dreamer.  In my estimation there are seven skills that must be mastered to fulfill the reality of living self sufficiently.  I will not go into how to become efficient in any of these categories.  There are so many resources for all of these skills from canning to gardening to hunting and fishing. My goal is to let you know what skills you will need to master to attempt this lifestyle.

  1. Agriculture                                                                                                                                                  The first of these skills and perhaps the most obvious is the ability to grow a sizable portion of the produce for your family’s personal consumption and to provide fodder for whatever animals you may have.  You will need to think beyond the vegetable garden and think of hay fields and growing mangels (fodder beats) or pumpkins as animal feed.  Fast growing prolific vegetables that you can can, pickle, freeze or otherwise preserve should be a priority.  A lot of this will depend on the amount of land you have.  Do you have enough land to plant corn, wheat or some other grain?  Can you provide pasture or hay production?  Work with what you have, it is amazing how much you can grow even in a small backyard setting.  Another example of agriculture that is overlooked is to take advantage of wooded areas or fields around you. “Forest farming” can be a way to extend your productive land.  Is there an area with a good berry patch, a wild mushroom tree, or some wild asparagus?  See if you can help out these areas so that these wild additions to your “garden” can spread and propagate.  A little helping hand may reap benefits in years to come.
  2. New photo by Wanderlust Family Adventure / Google Photos
    New photo by Wanderlust Family Adventure / Google Photos
  3. Animal Husbandry                                                                                                                                    This can be as wide ranging and varied as the gardening options discussed above.  Animal husbandry can provide you with meat (protein and fat), eggs, honey, fiber, leather and dairy products.  If you dreamed of owning your own dairy cow remember an average cow will yield ~ 8 gallons of milk per day during her lactating period whereas a dairy goat will yield about 1/5 of that amount. You will have to learn about ways to utilize this excess milk.  Think about butter production, yogurt, buttermilk, ice cream or simply animal feed.  Meat animals can be cows, sheep, goats or pigs.  Think about purchasing suckling pigs and raising them for slaughter.  A better feed to meat conversion can be had with smaller animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs or rats.  Do not be meat prejudiced, millions of people in the world eat rat as a main part of their diet.  Fiber and leather can be a useful side product.  Poultry can provide both meat and eggs.  I have raised turkeys, ducks, geese, guinea hens and chickens and the eggs are all similar in taste if not size.  The taste of fresh eggs however cannot be beat. Do not overlook insects not just bees for honey but worms for bait or other insect species for added protein sources.
  4. Hunting/Fishing/Trapping                                                                                                                   Keep in mind that you are hunting for the pot and fishing for the pan.  A big game animal will provide you with a lot of meat but remember that that is your purpose and not a trophy.  Smaller game animals such as rabbit and squirrel or birds can be a greater return for the effort.  The same can be said for fishing remember you are fishing to eat so forego any catch and release species.  Twenty bluegill are better than one bass.  If you are a trapper the animal does not have to be only for fur it can be meat as well.
  5. Foraging                                                                                                                                                      This is the most important area to make sure you get proper training before you go out and try sampling any wild edible.  Mushroom collecting can be especially dangerous but there are also many poisonous plants that must be avoided.  In addition to obtaining food for your own use do not forget to gather nuts such as acorns or other tree nuts mast for animals.  There are certainly some crops such as wild berries and some tree nuts that can be utilized in quantity as well as just providing supplemental ingredients.  Do not forget to find some maple or birch trees where sap can be gathered for sugar production.
  6. Gleaning                                                                                                                                                               Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable. This is a great way to obtain large quantities of produce for your personal use.  The best items I have been able to glean are potatoes and winter squash.  Sometimes some of the produce will be damaged by the mechanical harvester and these should be processed or used immediately.  Often however whole vegetables can be obtained from the field perfect for the root cellar.  Always be sure you ask permission of the farmer prior to gleaning the field.  A different type of gleaning is to utilize the discarded produce and other foodstuffs from the green grocer, supermarket or restaurant.  This product is perfect for animal feed and can greatly supplement the food cost for your livestock.  Again talk to the establishment and enquire about the possibility of utilizing this material.  Make sure you make it clear that it is for livestock feed to avoid any liability concerns they might have.  Another option for gathering some unwanted food is to befriend the local commercial fisherman.  Quite often when they are fishing for a certain species they will get a quantity of “bycatch.” this is the so-called “trash” fish which is not commercially viable.  Many of these species are delicious and vastly under-appreciated.  With a little creativity in the kitchen wonderful meals can be had.  Just by talking and befriending the local fisherman my father would get bags of herring recently brought in from the weirs.  We would pickle and can this herring and have a year’s supply of pickled fish in our pantry.
  7. Scavanging                                                                                                                                               It is important to keep your eyes open.  Any number of useful items are free for the taking as they are being discarded by their owners.  Used equipment that may only require minor repairs or could supply parts is one example. Don’t overlook anything, used pallets can be firewood, fencing for the pig pen or construction material.
  8. Tinkering                                                                                                                                                    Mechanical aptitude is important.  The ability to maintain or repair small engines or create something out of scrap parts can be invaluable. Skills such as carpentry, plumbing, etc. will all come in handy.

These are the skills you will need. There is nothing like first hand experience do some research and get started.