The modern world, with it’s relatively cheap travel, internet and widespread understanding of each other’s cultures has made long term travel and Expat living easier and more popular than ever.
As a result, many people chose to live as long term travelers or in countries like Italy as Expats; spending large amounts of their lives in foreign countries. A long term traveler may be working remotely so that they can live wherever they choose while an Expat is someone who has moved to another country to live, usually on a long term basis.
An Expat, which is short for an ‘Expatriate’, refers to a foreign national living overseas, usually while they work or after their retirement. A long term traveler, on the other hand, is someone who lives life on the road, traveling and working while they experience the wonders of the world while visiting multiple countries.
Maintaining Your Roots.
A long term traveler is more likely to be able to maintain their roots in their home country than an Expat who can often find themselves becoming disconnected from their friends and family.
Of course there are many fantastic advantages of living abroad as an Expat but there will always be sacrifices that need to be made! People at home will have to continue on with their lives and the longer that you are away for the more you will miss out on.
This can be one of the hardest challenges that Expats face although with the help of modern technology and social media you can still maintain your connections to your loved ones back at home, at least to an extent.
A long term traveler on the other hand, has much more freedom and can often maintain their connections with people at home quite easily. Not only are long term travelers not so tied down, in the sense that they can move whenever they want, but they are also far more likely to visit their home in between trips and adventures abroad.
However, whether you’re a long term traveler or an Expat, there will inevitably be things you miss out on back home but often the rewards and novel experiences that living abroad will bring may be worth it for you.
Age Of The Traveler.
The reality is that when people are young, having recently left college, there is nothing more appealing than hitting the road and seeing the world! As a result, most long term travellers do tend to be younger than your average Expat.
Most Expats are living overseas while working in a professional capacity or in their elderly years, enjoying retirement or semi-retirement. This naturally pushes their demographic into the older generations.
Living as a long term traveler is certainly exciting but it’s also quite tiring and you’ll have to be on your toes throughout! Everyday is a new adventure and although it’s exhilarating while you are young it’s not a lifestyle that suits many older people.
Expats tend to have settled down in their destination country and instead of being focused on travel and exploration they are trying to create a new life overseas. This changes the entire way that you see the country you are living in because as a traveller you can simply enjoy the sites and heritage of the country whereas as an Expat you gradually become an authentic member of the local community.
The Types Of Jobs They Do.
There’s usually a fundamental difference between the way that long term travellers and Expats live and work.
Many long term travelers refer to themselves as ‘Digital Nomads’, meaning that they have jobs which can be done remotely, from anywhere in the world. This allows them to travel around experiencing the sites and sounds of different countries while still maintaining a livable income.
Some of the most common jobs that long term travelers do include Blog promotion, YouTube video channels and Instagram product and service promotion. This means that they are not only traveling but using their own talents and skills to cash in on the experience. Other remote jobs include freelance writing, graphics and computer coding, travel writing and online affiliate marketing.
Expats, on the other hand, usually live abroad as a part of a long term career move or job relocation – such as teaching or diplomatic work – or because they are retiring in their dream location. This changes the entire way that they view their experiences because they seek to become a part of the community that they are now living in.
Other reasons that attract Expats to live in foreign countries include the lower cost of living and the more laid back style of life in places like Italy. Of course, long term travellers also seek the lower costs of life in exotic countries such as Bali or Mexico but when they are abroad they rarely become a part of the society they are visiting.
As a result, Expats are usually welcomed with open arms whereas in some places long term travellers may be viewed with more cynicism by the locals! Don’t forget that Expats pay taxes in the countries where they are living but as a general rule long term travellers are able to avoid most local taxes; something which also makes them less appreciated on their travels.
Ad Hoc Vs Planning.
Most Expats have planned out their move and transition to their destination country with care and consideration whereas long term travelers tend to be far more ad hoc and unorganized. Long term travelers can afford to be more sporadic because they don’t usually have as many commitments as an Expat, who is trying to set up a new life abroad.
This changes the fundamental experience of being abroad, depending on whether you are travelling or planning to settle down. For Expats, everything needs to be arranged, from long term accommodation to healthcare, employment to taxes. Although there are far more things to be sorted out as an Expat you will also get the chance to really become a part of your community and learn about your destination country in a way that someone who is just travelling through cannot.
On the other hand, a long term traveller or tourist will be able to visit the main sites and see some of the culture but they will never get to know the country as well as an Expat would. Long term travelling is extremely exciting but it won’t give you the opportunity to really learn about anywhere from the perspective of a local citizen.
Language And Culture.
A long term traveller may spend many years living abroad in foreign countries but it’s usually quite unlikely that they will learn the local languages or truly become a part of the culture of the countries they visit.
An Expat though is far more likely to learn the local language and genuinely try to fit into their communities. By contrast, travellers usually hang around with other travellers and rarely make the effort to fit into the local culture.
As an Expat you can make friends with the locals and build up solid relationships in your community in a way that a traveler doesn’t have time to do. When you do make genuine friendships with the locals you’ll be able to experience their authentic lifestyle; this is a special opportunity that travellers don’t usually get the chance to enjoy.
Higher Risk Versus Comfort Zone.
Moving abroad as an Expat can not only be daunting but it also comes with risks; despite the many advantages of living overseas. When you move to a new country to settle down you will have to face a whole range of challenges which travellers and tourists don’t need to consider.
As an Expat you need to sort out long term accommodation and ensure you have the financial security to maintain your lifestyle overseas. You’ll also have to arrange your healthcare in your destination country, pay taxes and make new friends in the community; all of which can be challenging at first.
Remember, while you are overseas, you won’t have your network of friends and family around you to help out if something goes wrong which in itself can be quite a frightening prospect. Nonetheless the risks are all worth it which is why so many people are taking the leap and moving overseas!
As a traveller though, if anything goes wrong you can always return back to the safety of your home so you’ll have quite a lot less to be worried about than an Expat.
Travellers And Expats Have Very Different Experiences Abroad.
Life abroad is an extremely varied and exciting prospect for anyone; however depending on the context of your stay your experience will differ tremendously. As a traveller, even on a long term basis, you will have an experience far more akin to a tourist than a local whereas as an Expat you’re likely to have a far more authentic experience of the destination country.
The outlook of travellers compared to Expats is hugely different because of how they see themselves in the context of the destination country. It’s not only because Expats pay taxes and usually work, or have retired, in their destination country but it’s also that they will be trying to create a whole new life. Expats are putting down roots in their new home and indeed, many never return to their native lands! On the other hand, long term travellers always know in the back of their minds that they will be returning home one day so they don’t have the impetus to really become a part of the communities they visit.