rss feeds: Posts | Comments

Expat Tips: Minimising Stress When Living Overseas

1 comment

Travellers often joke about small grievances, the inevitable problems that arise during travelling and other minor issues as being ‘travel tax.’ The idea is that travelling or living abroad has so many benefits and upsides, with all the experiences you have, people you meet and places you go, so small hiccups or ‘tax’ is going to be part of the package too. This is important because if you anticipate a small amount of tax it will ensure your expectations match reality, preventing minor problems from escalating in your mind and detracting from the numerous benefits of travel. This is not to be confused with the real travel tax, charges levied by the government when leaving the country.


Write the author.




It can be easy, when frustrated or inconvenienced, to exaggerate these small problems in your mind and detract from the enjoyment of the entire experience. Thinking about these issues in terms of a tax, a necessary and unavoidable part of life, is a useful way to remain calm and look at the bigger picture when things go wrong.



Patience wearing thin?


So many issues are simply a question of perspective. If you see challenges as exciting things and imagine some of the ridiculous situations you find yourself in as funny stories to tell later rather than asking ‘Why is this happening to me?’ then you will have a much happier time. 


When living abroad you’re unlikely to find yourself in as many crazy scenarios as a tourist, but your ‘travel tax’ is more likely to be small gripes about nagging issues or ongoing inconveniences. The same attitude is required, and those who are more willing to accept the way things are, rather than asking why can’t they be done the way they are at home, will have a more pleasant experience. Appreciating the small quirks of a new country as novel differences that teach you something about how people live in a different part of the world will make them less frustrating. 


One example in the Philippines is how when you ask a guard or store clerk for directions to a certain place, they will always detail how to get where you want to go. After enough negative experiences you will realise they often had no idea where you were asking directions for, but will never tell you that they don’t know, they will always guess. From one perspective this could be seen as highly frustrating, but instead if you simply accept poor directions as a ‘travel tax’ then you can adapt.  You can do this by planning trips better in advance, learning your way around, asking multiple people for directions and re-checking directions after you have been walking for a few minutes to prevent yourself from walking in the wrong direction for too long.


Manila_Bay (1)

Manila Bay Skyline



Once you accept the mindset of ‘travel tax,’ you’re more than halfway there. The next thing to do is work on ways to minimise it. Accepting and expecting small problems will handle most things, but to further minimise the amount, proper planning and research to learn from other people’s mistakes and knowledge will be a big help to avoid incurring more issues than you need to.



Author: Derek Stewart
Photo source:
Tired travellers –
Manila Skyline –
Frustrated Man –






  1. Yes, it gets stressful when you are new in a place and you ask for directions from the locals, and they lead you the wrong place. So you get lost all the more. :-( Thanks for the tip here about asking many people and checking other resources before going to a place. :-)