In our humble opinion, Valentine’s Day is a bit of a non event. Neither of us have ever really celebrated it in previous relationships or in our own relationship.
So for us to sit and give advice on things to do on Valentine’s Day is quite out of character.
As expats we wanted to give other expats, seasonal workers or full time travellers ways to spread the love and spark friendships and most of all not be dictated by a Hallmark card!
1. Flash a smile
Wherever you are in the world, a smile goes a long way and just one smile can make a difference to someone’s day. Go one step further and pay a compliment to someone.
Culturally smiles can have many meanings but they are mostly well received and always a sign of kindness that crosses any language barriers.
Go even further and strike up a conversation. Jen met one of her best friends in a nightclub toilet so you never know where you’ll find friendship!
2. Make a friend
It’s easier said than done. A smile is one thing but actively seeking friendship as an adult can be hard. As an expat even harder.
For expats we recommend signing up to a language exchange, even to go along and speak English with someone who wants to practice the language or maybe you speak another language and you want to improve. Either way it’s a casual setting to meet new people.
Local Facebook expat pages are a great way to ask about potential events or meet ups and look to your workmates, make the effort to socialize.
While you travel make sure you involve yourself with hostel activities, pub quizzes and talk to people, be real and maybe you’ll make an unexpected friend. The world is kinder than you think.
3. Be kind to the Earth
Sustainability is the word on most people’s lips these days. Maybe not certain US Presidents but for everyone else it’s a pertinent issue.
As you travel be sure to avoid using single use plastic. Did you know that 85 per cent of the world’s plastic ends up in landfill and is not recycled?
Invest in a water bottle just remember to take it through security empty. Tap water is largely safe in Europe, North America, Australia and Japan but do ask the locals about the quality of water if you’re somewhere you’re not sure about. Purifying your water will help keep plastic waste down too.
Try making your own food where possible and even try taking a food container to cafes/eateries if eating to go. Reusable coffee cups are also ideal travel companions for caffeine junkies like us!
4. Put you first
We just talked about looking after the planet but don’t forget to look out for your own wellbeing.
From experience we know that living in remote locations as seasonal workers can be emotionally and even physically draining.
We all have struggles with our mental health so how do you combat that?
For us it’s important to get out even just for a walk every day. Set tasks or to do lists to motivate yourself. Drink tea. Drink water. Find an exercise like pilates, yoga or running that you can do daily.
As you travel it’s hard to find a routine but if you take half an hour in the morning to do one or all of these things it will help to keep you sane.
Jen’s day starts with yoga in the house and drinking herbal tea. It takes 20 minutes. That one small thing impacts her mood for the rest of the day.
This might verge on sounding clichéd but having that structure really does help you while you travel or while you work away from home, especially when your homesick or knackered.
5. Support your local community or next travel destination
Whether you live up a mountain, in the countryside, a city or you’re just fulfilling your travel dreams, pay it forward.
Wherever you are you can support local businesses through many means. Buying from chain restaurants and coffee shops, non genuine souvenir shops and staying in branded hotels are giving less money directly to that local economy.
Check out a local independent coffee shop, buy food from farmers markets, independent eateries and find alternative accommodation.
Homestays, Air BnB, Couchsurfing and even looking up hostel and hotel recommendations on travel blogs are all ways we’ve found places to stay that we know will give back to that country or city.
Try and find genuine souvenirs and goods made by people in the country you’re in. That way you know where your money is going.
That’s our gift to you this Valentine’s Day. Try one of these things today and keep it going for the year. It’s like a puppy at Christmas. It’s not just for a day!! Love from Hoopla X
Update: We’ve had some people ask where exactly we meet fellow expats. In Bratislava we have joined expat groups specific to the city, all cities should have this and we have been going to Fluent Bratislava Language Exchanges.