Month: August 2015

Crazy Enough to Retire Abroad?

For many Americans, retirement is merely a pipe dream. While people from other countries are trying to get into America, some here (unable to retire at home or seeking adventure) look abroad for a reputedly cheap option.

What factors should be considered?

Distance is one important factor. If you have relatives in the U.S., you still want to come back for holidays, illnesses, important family events and to visit. So access to the U.S. may make a difference. But it can be deceiving to judge access based on distance alone. For example, it’s only a three hour plane ride to get to the closest U.S. entry point from Panama, but frequently you will need to go through the Panamanian domestic flight airport and transfer an hour away to the international flight airport, increasing the time and cost for this trip.

Money is another important factor. Many people have trouble converting from dollars to the local currency. If that sounds like you, you should consider places that have dollar-based economies, such as Ecuador and Panama. If you need to change currencies there is usually a fee to do this, which adds costs throughout time.

Driving is another important consideration. Many places drive on the opposite side of the street. If you would find that difficult or confusing, you should look at places that drive on the same side as America. While we are discussing cars, check what fuels they use — some places use liquid nitrogen — and whether credit cards are easily accepted if you don’t like to carry cash.

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Pub Placates Plane Phatigue with Phantastic Phood and Pimms

Anyone who travels a lot internationally has likely had the experience of having to change planes or meet a connecting flight in London at its massive Heathrow Airport. One hears grumbles all the time about how difficult it is to navigate there. I have travelled through hundreds of airports, and I love Heathrow.

If you have a long layover it’s possible to get the “tube” (English for subway) to almost anywhere in London. If not, there is plenty to do around the airport with 5 terminals spread over a vast area. All signage is in English only and clearly directs you. If you don’t speak English, get someone to point you towards the right color for where you want to go using the airport’s unique color code system. Then there are the unique words the British use for things outside the airport. Watch for “carriageway” signs, meaning road.

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I Got Taken to the Bath

The quality of the tile artwork can affect the price of a Turkish bath.

If you’ve never had a Turkish bath, it’s an experience. You can spot the baths from their unique dome-shaped exteriors scattered around the land. Turkey itself offered many interesting things to see and do, but on a recent trip to Georgia, with its nascent tourist industry, the baths were higher on the list of attractions. So I had a Turkish bath in Georgia. There’s a practical side to this. In Georgia bathrooms do not usually have baths. That’s what the Turkish baths are there for, silly!

On the downside, contrary to Turkey, almost no one in Georgia speaks English, so you need a local friend to help negotiate the deal. Turns out that’s easier said than done. You are initially quoted a deceptively low price that only the cognoscenti realize covers only the private use of the bath facility for one hour. You can get baths from $25-100 per hour depending on how beautiful the room is, which means, in essence, how elaborate the tile work is. If you are in a group of four men, for example, you can all share. Georgian men and women use this as a socializing event, sitting around naked for hours chatting while they take turns with the rest of the process that I will describe. It’s not a co-ed experience, although I suspect additional services for a price are sometimes available.

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