Here are some of my favorite products and services that I’ve personally used as an American expat living in France and would love to recommend for your move abroad or while traveling!
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All-Inclusive Pass for Paris—First time going to Paris? Consider checking out Go City’s all-inclusive pass. Experience the best of the city and enjoy great savings with access to 35+ attractions, tours, and experiences. This is the way to see more and spend less!
Backpack/Daypack—The Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack is Jonathan’s favorite backpack. Osprey makes durable, sturdy bags, equally great for going to work or on a day trip adventure. Check out my other day trip essentials.
Carry-On Travel Backpack—Another favorite purchase from Osprey… the Fairview 40L is one of the largest travel backpacks that can be used as carry-on luggage on most flights, including budget airlines. I packed for a 10-day trip with this bag! Although you could probably get away with one size bigger, the Fairview 40L ensures that you’ll get less side eye from attendants and fellow passengers alike. The Farpoint 40 is the men’s version of this bag.
Driving Guides—Tripiamo is on a mission to help people travel safely, adventure confidently, and roam further. Their unique, international car & motorbike driving guides include 360º driving tours, expert instructional videos, and on-the-go materials. If driving on the left side of the road in the UK doesn’t compute in your mind, they have a guide for that, too. Before using their materials, getting behind the wheel in Scotland was a big nope for me, but Tripiamo provided me with the knowledge and practice to make it manageable and safe. Read my full review here.
Luggage Scale—I always get the maximum benefit out of my suitcases without ever being overweight and having to pay extra at the airport. This electronic luggage scale from Etekcity has been so trustworthy!
Staying Connected While Abroad
Password Manager—If you are the type of person (like me!) who is always clicking on the “Forgot Password?” button, you need LastPass. My IT husband recommended this password manager to me. A safe and secure password vault, you only need to remember your Master Password and the vault will do the rest! Once set up, it is so easy to use. It’s integrated into my phone and on my computer as a Chrome extension. This has been a total game-changer for me.
Portable Charger—I’ve been using a great charger from Anker for a few years now. I love it because you can charge multiple devices at the same time. Powerful and long-lasting, it is a bit heavy, but its slim design makes it easy to carry around.
Tourist SIM Card for France/Europe—The Orange Holiday card is an all-inclusive prepaid card with calls, texts, and data on a reliable network. Staying connected while in Europe doesn’t get any easier than this. Before moving to France, it’s the card I used anytime I traveled to France. Read my full review. (Note: To use a local SIM card like this, you need to make sure that your phone is “unlocked.” Check with your provider!)
VPN Access—A Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates a secure bubble for your data when you’re connected to the internet. One way I make use of a VPN is to hide my location in order to access websites that are blocked in certain areas. Another advantage is to keep my data secure while accessing public Wi-Fi which happens a lot when traveling. I like NordVPN because it’s easy to set up and turn on, like flipping a switch.
Banking for Expats
International Money Transfers—If you need to transfer money between bank accounts with different currencies, Wise is the way to go. The account is easy to set up, the transfers are quick, and the fees are low. Additionally, you benefit from the real exchange rate. I’ve been very impressed with this service particularly because there are no hidden fees. You know exactly what you are paying upfront.
Mobile Neobank—N26 is a 100% mobile, German-based bank with an easy-to-use app. One of the best advantages to using this bank is that there are no foreign transaction fees worldwide, even with their most basic account which is completely free by the way. Unlike many other banks, with N26, you can also enjoy a few free ATM withdrawals each month in the Eurozone.
Blogging & Business Tools
Email Marketing—Are you a blogger? Send newsletters, create landing pages, and sell digital products with this email marketing tool. ConvertKit has a free account for up to 1,000 subscribers. If you want to play around with some of the more powerful tools, you can get a 14-day trial of the Creator Plan. (This is the plan level that I currently use.)
Grammar Assistance—Grammarly is a useful tool for checking grammar and spelling errors no matter where you are writing. You can use it in on your desktop offline or on the internet. It also gives suggestions to more effectively communicate style and tone.