Time for tips! Sort of. We’re occasionally handing out tips on our blog posts, comments, social media, and otherwise. People are always asking us for advice about moving abroad or traveling full-time. We’ve actually done this several times, and here’s your report from the archives:

Most importantly…

So when the fine folks at HiFX – a great resource website for those moving abroad, whose Expat Tips page we’ve contributed to – asked us about doing a blog post on our own site regarding expat tips, I had to think long and hard about what to write.

Berlin, Germany by Jets Like Taxis

We’ve already covered so many of the aforementioned topics, my brain was sort of a mess when thinking about what other indispensable advice we could provide to all you lovely people. And then I got to reflecting on the traits that help us operate in this world as successful expats. Which led me to my parents.

See, two of the things my parents always tried to instill in me are grace and humility. I might not always be the most gracious or humble, but no matter where I am, I’m always reminded of what I learned from them.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

So today, I want to pass this lifelong learning adventure on to you. After all, you’re probably an expat, someone who wants to be an expat, or someone who loves to travel. Or, maybe you’re just a friend or random reader who likes living vicariously through the drivel we put up on this blog.

And I can tell you right now: Grace and humility are two of the absolutely most important traits you can have and use as a traveler and expat abroad. This, I guarantee.

I don’t particularly want to be that guy, but I also don’t really care about being that guy.

So, here it goes: I know the way in which I’m writing this is neither very gracious nor very humble. I guess that’s just how I rant. (Sorry, Mom!)

Tara River Canyon, Montenegro by Jets Like Taxis

If you are from a first-world country – specifically, the United States – you probably don’t practice a whole lot of grace or humility. If you do, then count yourself as one of the lucky ones.

See, people from the U.S. and other superpowers tend to view themselves as the best. How many times have you been told your country is the best? You’re the best at sports, your food is the best, your language is the best, your army is the best, your roads and cars and planes and schools and health care (bahaha!) are the best. Your “democracy” is the best.

That’s what you’ve been taught your whole life.

Dubrovnik, Croatia by Jets Like Taxis

While there’s nothing wrong with being confident and proud, both of these things are so powerful and overpowering that they can easily blind you to what the truth is.

And what’s the truth?

The truth is that none of those things are really the best. And guess what? You’re not the best, either. Get over it. And get over yourself.

Don’t get me wrong: Some things are better than others, and opinions will always differ. But I can tell you right now that what you think makes you special, or what actually does make you special, does not make you or any version of how you live the best.

Clatskanie, Oregon by Jets Like Taxis

Let’s be realistic. And since we’re American, let’s use America as an example. It is one of the largest countries in the world, with only 1/20 the world’s population. A recent study that I can’t remember but read about on Slate.com said that if everyone in the world who wants to move to the U.S. was able to do so, the population density would still be less than pretty much every country in Western Europe.

The number was something around 120 million people. Out of nearly seven billion.

If you’re so damn awesome, why is it that only one out of every sixty people would want to live in the U.S.? But America is awesome! Rock, flag, and eagle! Truck yeah!

I’m really not here to bash America. There are plenty of things we love about America, believe it or not. But you can be damn sure that America – or whatever country you’re from – is most positively, absolutely, 100% not the best.

And if you think otherwise, you’re jaded and probably shouldn’t be reading this blog. (Please sign your hate mail with love.)

Springerville, Arizona by Jets Like Taxis

Before I end up ranting for 5,000 words, the point I’m trying to make here is that none of us are the best. And we must realize this.

Because, you see, we’re going out into the world. A world of everyone who’s not from our country. A world of people who speak different languages or dialects, who use different money, have different histories, eat different food, practice different religions, hold different opinions on [insert bullshit politics here], and live their daily lives without even thinking about how awesome your country may or may not be.

Lustica, Montenegro by Jets Like Taxis

Despite what you think, not everyone wants to be like you, live in a place like where you grew up, speak your language, or live how you do. And that is okay.

As you are going out into the world, though, you need to remember this. It is key to your success and your happiness.

You will need to clearly understand that things are not done the way you’re used to doing them. That using pesos in Mexico is far more advantageous than bringing your dollars to the table (despite what the signs say), that trying new food is something akin to great sex, that learning even the slightest bit of the local language will take you places you never even imagined when you were reading The Hobbit as a starry-eyed youth.

Learning German by Jets Like Taxis

And the only way you’re going to get there is with a bit of humility and grace.

Everyone knows that we’re not religious people. My parents are, though, and both of these traits are tenets ingrained in their beliefs. Yes, there are plenty of people who don’t misuse religion. I’m fortunate enough to be the child of two of them.

Spokane, Washington by Jets Like Taxis

And they passed these things on to me, as two of the most gracious and humble people I’ve ever known. And I can tell you with the utmost certainty that, while it may have taken decades for me to actually realize, humility and grace have gotten me farther in this whole wide world than anything else I can fathom.

Curiosity is certainly up there, hanging out with humility and grace. Having drinks and sharing hugs and such. But one can only truly be curious if s/he has enough humility and grace to be open and understanding enough to be interested in something unknown to him/her.

Cocky jerks and unforgiving assholes aren’t the curious type, see.

Coos Bay, Oregon by Jets Like Taxis

So, when you get on that plane and travel uncomfortably (unless you’re using points or your relocation is paid for) all that distance, think about how you felt when you read those fantasy books as a kid. That’s exactly how you need to feel when you land at customs.

You don’t know anything, what you grew up being told is entirely different, you’re in a new land, and everything you’re about to see, do, smell, taste, touch, and learn will be something that not only makes life more enjoyable, but makes you a better person.

Cancun, Mexico by Jets Like Taxis

When we returned to the U.S. for a visit in 2013, we surprised my sister at her job. Upon meeting an executive power-mover colleague of hers, he told me something like, “You are so calm. Listening to you talk is so relaxing. I think I love you.”

Despite the fire being spewed in this blog post, I can assure you that my demeanor on that particular day could in no way exist if I didn’t carry humility and grace with every step, flight, drive, or ride that I take.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

Enjoy your journey. Just don’t forget to pack your humility and grace. It’ll be good for you and every square inch of every place and every person with which or whom you come into contact. Guaranteed.

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Have ye any tips for those becoming expats? Any thoughts about my rant? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!