Notes on applying for the French Working Holiday Visa


The following were notes of my experiences in April 2018 of applying for the French Working Holiday Visa as an Australian citizen.  Even if you are not Australia, some of the points here may be relevant for you. Enjoy!

Do I really have to go to Sydney to apply in-person?

Yes, yes you do. I’ve called and email many times and you really do need to go to Sydney.  If you are actually residing in a country (as in, registered resident, not travelling) then you may be able to apply for the French Consulate in that country. But keep in mind – in Europe, WHVs for France in a European country is not really that much of a norm considering free movement for EU citizens/residents.  You may also run into an issue where the Consulate may not speak your country language that well. You may also find that the paperwork being provided is provided in the recognized official languages – and by that, where English is not the official language you’ll have a hard time deciphering the paperwork yourself.

And there is also additional staff and security requirements needed to be there in-person where you speak to staff processing your visa, or where you need to provide bio-identification such as fingerprints.

Collate the official resources

Go to the official pages (ie linked to from the Consulate) and collate all the resources that you need for the application.

Look for a type of document that acts as a paperwork checklist that you need to apply. Keep in mind that these checklists are different to a requirements list.  For example, a requirements list may tell you important information like “You need to be x age” but a paperwork checklist document is what you give to the Consulate when you actually apply. They will go through the checklist and tick off the paperwork that you provide.

One of the issues that I had is that I may come across official information that lists out one thing, and in another document, will list out the same information + some new detail. It’s better to be more prepared and accommodate all details.

Keep to the letter of what documents and other requirements are needed

A common question people have is if they can replace one rule with another. A common one is around the issue with return tickets, which for Australians, can be easily upward of $2000 or more. “Do I really need to buy a return ticket? Why don’t I just buy a ticket out of France, like Germany? Or can I just show the amount equivalent of a return ticket?”.

This is not acceptable and you do have to show a return ticket. Even if you tell the Consulate that you intend to apply for another visa, or intend to continue travelling, promising this is not going to work.  So, if it says on the document that you need a return ticket then you need to go ahead and buy one.

The same applies for everything else.  If there is a note about the type of coverage that is required for insurance, thinking “I will be covered anyway by my existing insurer” may not be accepted. It’s your responsibility to ensure that any services you have is acceptable.

What health insurance provider can I go with?

Please note, this is NOT an advertisement. If you are already happy with your insurer, skip this part.  If you are open to new options, continue to read on.

For many years since 2012, I’ve gone with World Nomads as my insurer.  There has only been one time where I’ve made a claim and it was given to me without any fuss. So, I was happy with the service.

When it was time to look for my health insurance, I decided to take a look around. World Nomads had increased their premium by $120 even though my length of travel, regions to cover, and age still remain the same.

I decided then to use the time to look for a new insurance provider.

The requirement was that the insurance must cover any costs of repatriation for medical reasons and any medical emergency treatment with a validity for France and for one year once you enter France.

After some research, I decided to change to another travel insurance provider (which had been accepted) and was about $170 cheaper than my World Nomads quote including their discount of 5%.  When I looked at the paperwork for the repatriation and medical emergency treatments, it was actually similar wording.

How far in advance can I apply?

Once you receive your visa, you have up to 12 months to enter France. Now a lot of people see this part and think “So I’ll just get my visa first and then decide when to go between now and 12 months”.

While you do have some flexibility, this is only on the event of any unplanned events to happen. Meaning, if you have an emergency before leaving, then you may want to put off travel plans. This flexibility is not really aimed at people who want flexible travel plans because they want to leave whenever they feel like it. This is because a) you need to have an insurance start date, since you need to provide proof of insurance anyway, and b) you need to have actually bought a return ticket.

When I arranged for my appointment, it turns out that you can only apply at the maximum of three months before your departure date OR three months before your start of insurance date.  The reason why I say OR is because when I applied for my visa, I only had my insurance with me and no tickets.  When they looked at my insurance start date they mentioned that they will only start processing it a few days after my appointment which would have been 3 months before my proposed visa start date.

How long did it take to process the visa?

Some people have reported four weeks, other two weeks. My visa would have been processed within 4 business days (!!) including the fact that I provided a self-addressed Express Mail post to receive my passport in the mail.  I was really surprised by how quickly this was processed since I also expected four weeks.  It could have also been due to other factors involved, or that there were less paperwork to process on that day.

What happens if I find out that I am missing paperwork and that I have a visa appointment the following day?

This happened to me, so I decided to cancel my flights (since I had to fly to Sydney) and hotel stay. It turned out that you can still go to the appointment and that you can also have other documents mailed to the Consulate.

But keep in mind that this advice was given to me by the Consulate….one day after cancelling.

Also I was missing another piece of paperwork (a return ticket) and it also turned out that you can send it to the Consulate and they will start processing it after they receive it. But, this was after I paid for the visa fee so I don’t know if they’ll have a different response if they realized this before the application.  There was another person at the appointment and it also turned out that she had missing/incorrect paperwork and they asked her to actually make another appointment and return.

This entry is not meant to provide some ‘insight’ into how Consulates work by the way. This is the reason my top advice is to look at the official requirements and to be prepared with your requirements.

Other tips for the Consulate appointment

  • Arrive on time.
  • This is easy to overlook but you need to also provide photocopies of all your documentation.  Even all my passport pages with stamps needed to be photocopied.
  • You cannot arrange your appointment more than three months before your proposed arrival date.
  • A detailed itinerary of what you are doing in France is not required.
  • Evidence of French languages learning courses is not required (although, you definitely would want to learn the French language to make your life better/easier…topic for another post).
  • If you have no other options, you can book a hostel for the week (with free cancellation) and then add that address as the initial address of your stay.

If you are looking for advice relevant to your nationality, please consult your Consulate/Embassy pages.

How I Organize Long-Term Residency and my plans in Europe from late 2016 to 2021

This is a follow-up post to How I Organize Long-Term Travel.

When I organize my long-term residency plans (think from 2017 right through to 2021/2022) I usually approach it only from a fact-gathering / information-gathering viewpoint.  This means that I keep myself open-minded, but still focused, while I gather as much facts as I can about the countries and situations that I may find myself in the future.

Below you will see quiet a few boards, and a lot of it has changed over the past week.  For example, until a couple of weeks ago, I had plans to move to Spain or Portugal later this year but after some research into the visa details felt that it would be too cumbersome for me to arrange my papers.  For example, both Spain and Portugal required police checks in all countries that I’ve lived in, as well as being physically in Australia in order to submit a fingerprint with the Australian Federal Police.  If I was residing in Australia, this would not be a problem but since I have no plans to visit until next year, I decided to hold off the trip until next year.

What are the next option?  Well, the next option is the easiest – and that was to not only stay in Germany for the duration of my Working Holiday Visa, but to also look into options of staying for longer.  Looking into details about Germany, I saw that their freelance visa was actually for three years (not two that I previously noted) and from there, starting reading more about EC permanent residency which would allow me to become a permanent resident of the European Union.  And with this, started plotting my plans to go from freelance visa (including one extension) to EC permanent residency until 2022.  And there you have it.  2017 to 2022 will be all about Germany (so far in this journey…)

However, I still wanted to see what my options are in living and work remotely in other parts of Europe/Germany and I also wanted to have the option of it going beyond the Schengen agreement in case the opportunity arises.  On the road to being an EC permanent resident, I still have the option to reside in Germany or reside elsewhere as long as it’s in Europe.  Since I needed to be self-employed to do this, I decided to first target the self-employment visas followed by the Working Holiday Visa agreements.  Despite the research, I found that Germany was still the most straightforward path from WHV to EC permanent residency in the European Union that did not require a large cash outlay and a lot of paperwork.  However, France has an option to set up as a micro-entrepreneur so now I have France in my sights for summer to fall next year.  And since I am planning a trip back to Australia in December, I can also allocate Spain to escape winter.  In this case, on the road to EC permanent residency via the German residency route I can slowly ‘ease’ myself into German winters 😉

Now, some people are wondering – but what about those immigration schemes?  Aren’t there affordable schemes?  Yes, I am aware of these schemes.  But many of them require a large cash outlay and meeting a lot of other conditions and paperwork.  These schemes may even provide you the pathway to EC permanent residency in the same or a slightly shorter time period.

My only, main problem is that Germany currently has restrictive dual nationality laws.  I am hoping that perhaps by 2022 they will start considering dual nationalities.  However, if I still feel very strongly about having citizenship somewhere in the European Union, at the very least under the EC permanent residency all the requirements will not be as strict as non-EEA/EU residents.  Or, I could save up enough to afford an immigration investment programme.

Solo travelling is great, except for the following….

Any destination where it’s better to drive (ie remote eastern Europe)

I can’t drive so in this case, I’d need to travel someone who can.

On the other hand, I’ve been making all sorts of excuses as to why I don’t need a car or drivers license, but now I’m probably more motivated to get one.

Recently I was in Transylvania, Romania. I was travelling with a group, we went through the mountain villages then I was dropped off in Brasov because they had a different travel agenda.

I wanted to check out some destinations near Brasov but it’s better to have a car so you have more freedom instead of relying on public transport. I ended up just staying in Brasov for nearly a week.

Another example was going to Los Angeles, though I was staying in Santa Monia.  When I travelled there, I had no particular plans but I met with a friend and we ended up driving to Joshua Tree National Park and stayed there for the night.

Traffic on the way to Joshua Tree National Park, California

Any destination where it’s just not safe to be there on your own since you have no idea of the lay of the land – for example, seeing Morrocan mountains

Another one was Marrakech – wanted to go see Atlas Mountains but I needed to pay a guide. I ended up paying for a guide but he never showed up.

In this case it would have been better for me to travel with people and also have a guide.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to see the more remote destinations like Ngorongoro in Tanzania.

There are some destinations or activities where I am OK just travelling on my own, but it’s better to have someone that I know well as an emergency contact and who is also in the area.

Sometimes at the end of the day, it also depends on the people around you…

One of the things a solo traveller does where it’s easy to become self-conscious is going out for a meal, especially around dinner time.

In my teens, I used to be self-conscious about eating out or eating in front of people.  But when I moved out and when I started travelling on my own, I was less conscious of this.  I eat on my own – from a store-bought sandwich on a park bench to having a $100 lunch on my own in a hotel.  But, the ‘bubble’ pops as soon as you overhear someone talking about how you’re desperately trying to figure out how to eat clams or the fact that you’re reading a book on your own while eating a pizza.  So, a message to non-solo diners out there – don’t be rude by point out or loudly talking about a solo diner.  It can be difficult enough as it is dining on your own, enjoying your meal and keeping track of your belongings at the same time.

A simple distraction, like checking out the news on your phone, could have helped.  But, I’d rather not stick to being constantly distracted with my phone and instead focus on the moment.

Photo taken while having lunch on my own in a remote island near Istanbul where I was solo-travelling.

How I Organize Long-Term Travel

When I first announced that I was moving to Berlin, one of the first things someone said to me was “Wow! I wish I can just pack my suitcase and go like that“.  Sounds familiar, right?  So many people think that this is the case, and while it is the case for some people who literally can pack a suitcase, it is not so for me.

This post covers some of the top things that I do to organize long-term travel.

Balance preparation with being able to live in the moment

Take my recent move to Germany as an example.  While I really only spent 1-2 months in active preparations of the move to Germany (and by active, I mean, approaching landlords for apartments and sorting out my government appointments), I have always wanted to live there since 2009 and I started my initial research into Germany 16 months before my move.

What I have learnt, and this continues to be a learning experience for me, is to strike the balance of being prepared and being able to live in the moment.   On one hand, I want to avoid as much mishaps and issues as possible that can come out of due to lack of preparation.  Believe me, once something is overlooked, dealing with it while overseas can turn into one massive headache that can easily spiral out of control.  On the other hand, I don’t like to spend too much time simmering in some plan or idea that I forget to live in the moment.  I’ve done both wrongs in the past, and I am always trying to avoid stepping into further issues.  This is especially the case living in Germany, where doing everything is just set to Challenge Mode because of the fact that I can’t speak German.

While I was preparing to live in Germany, I was living in two countries – Canada and Ireland.  It’s easy to get caught up in the future that you forget where you are, and why you are doing this in the first place.

Trade-offs will now be a part of your life

I am constantly making trade-offs between living in the present, and being able to prepare for the future.

For example, you may have friends who won’t stop going on about how you should have joined them on that expensive trip.  Or coworkers that gush about their latest expensive purchase.

Now that I accept that I have to make trade-offs to continue living how I want to live, I am a lot more comfortable in saying no. It’s been a long time since I last experienced FOMO.

These trade-offs can be triggered by your budget – be it your money or your time.

I am constantly creating a new spreadsheet, or a new document when I need to quickly hash out a budget or an action plan if I am indecisive.  At least then, it’s better to make decisions on your own terms rather than someone else’s.

Use project management software

Yes, I use project management software to organize pretty much everything.  From a checklist of documentation requirements that I need for a visa application process, to other articles and blog posts of my target country, to random comments that I have in mind.  It’s all there.

To give you an idea, my setup is divided into major topics – such as housing and education – and finally countries.

A section may look like a scrum board if the scrum style is appropriate, otherwise they are usually divided by interest area.  For example, I have a section that I use which combines a mix of research, planning and brainstorming of the countries that I want to live in and the possible dates (let’s call this ‘International’).  Each is then subdivided into topic points – such as the application process of one type of visa, the application process of another type of visa, any bookmarks or snippets to look at and so on.

Before I started actively planning my move to Germany, I had a section in the ‘International’ area before I created a new area (simply called ‘Germany’) that is dedicated to my research and planning for moving to and living in Germany.

All of this is on typical software / project management software.

I can’t recommend a platform or application to use since I think that you should use the one that you are most comfortable in using.

Don’t listen to the checklist nihilists

I am a fan of checklists.

And yes, there are some people that don’t see the importance of them.  I am the complete opposite – I am constantly making checklists.  Even if it ends up being a duplicate or it ends up not being used.  It’s easy to make a checklist and it’s a good idea to get into this habit as it allows meto filter out the unecessary or bloated information and focus on the important and essential items.

Always prioritize the facts when moving to a new country

Moving to a new country is a daunting experience, especially when you intend to live there far longer than a tourist.  It is easy to be swept up by all the resources out there that is more aimed at the tourist and travel readership.  It is easy to be paralyzed with indecision.  It is easy to pretty much go around in circles, hopelessly, while you try to deal with a barrage of information.  Should you trust that forum comment from five years ago about what you can and can’t do on your visa? Should you live in that suburb, or this suburb?  And what about tax and insurance?

For me, my preference is to focus on the facts and tackle it.  If I don’t understand the terms of my visa, I do not go to social media.  Instead, I will usually look up the official and legal information behind my visa terms and conditions.  If I am facing a subjective/personal type of decision (ie where to live), I focus on the factual information about the place first.

I have found that prioritizing only the factual information has made managing the information load a lot better to handle.

Taxation for Digital Nomads – Questions to Ask Yourself

As a traveller flitting from one country to the other, how will I go about doing my taxes?

Even if you are travelling from country to country, you can still be subject to paying taxes so long as you are still a resident of your home country.  There are a number of factors that taxation agencies will use to calculate if you are still considered a tax resident.  Please check official documentation or consult with an advisor.

In addition you potentially still paying taxes in your home country, you may still be subject to paying taxes in the new country that you are residing in.  This is dependent on whether or not you are considered a resident for taxation purposes. For example, if you are living in a country for 183 days or more you may then be considered a resident, for taxation purposes, of that country. If you are living in a country are your source of income is in that country, then that may also mean paying taxes for that income source.

If you are considering trying to get income ‘under the table’ make a note that eventually you may need to fold underneath some sort of business structure like an LLC, LTD, etc. You may also need to have a unique tax number to identify yourself.  A number of businesses will require you to operate as a business, rather than as an individual for a number of reasons – for auditing purposes, for liability protection and so on.  In addition, without further identifying yourself and your income activities, it may be difficult to do any further paperwork within that country should you need to – for example, in answering income related questions when applying for long term or permanent residency or citizenship.

Working Holiday Visa for Germany – Application Process, Documents, Banking, Housing

This series marks my experiences on my 4th working holiday visa for Germany and is written as an Australian applicant.  If you are from other countries with the bilateral agreement, you may also find this post useful.

I also have some posts of my experiences under the Working Holiday Visas for Canada (called International Experience Canada), the UK (called Tier 5 Youth Mobility) and Ireland (simply Working Holiday Visa).  It’s scattered all over my blog so please have a look at my earlier posts.

One main thing to keep in mind throughout the whole process

When I read posts from other applicants of the German working holiday programmes, there is a common theme emerging – and that is that the German immigration system will do the work for them.  Meaning that, all German immigration authorities have native command of English and that everyone knows what a working holiday visa is.

The truth here is the opposite.

It is completely up to the individual to ensure that they meet the requirements for the working holiday visa.  It is also up to the individual to ensure that they meet any other requirements to live and work in Germany – from making sure that the documents are correct to making sure to decrease as much miscommunication as possible.

With that in mind, feel free to continue on below for my thoughts around the application process for the German working holiday visa.

The Application Process

On the Australian Germany embassy website, Australians have the choice to either apply in the Consulate-General in Sydney or at the local immigration authority (‘Ausländerbehörde’).  Being based in Dublin, I decided to do my application at the Germany embassy in Dublin instead.  Another reason why I decided to avoid Ausländerbehörde was all because of their website.  When I logged in to do an online appointment, there were no appointments available (not even if I browse all the way to 2020) and I was sure that there was an issue with their system after trying on three different browsers. I gave up and decide to apply here in Dublin.

If you decide to do your application after arriving in Germany, make a note of what the next available slot is for an appointment by going to the Ausländerbehörde website.  From my experience in handling immigration bureaucracy (ie when getting my GNIB card here in Ireland), it is considerably better to research and try to get your paperwork and appointments ready in advance instead of showing up at the office and getting your information there.  Do not assume that there will be a spot on the day of your appointment, or that there is even going to be availability in the near future.

In addition, don’t assume that information will be delivered to you in English and that it will be 100% accurate.  I think that this comes from a source of naivety in people who the world is going to be functioning on their level at 100% English-speaking proficiency.  The reality is that, especially in Europe, English is not going to be the native language and so it’s better to assume that whatever information you get, or whatever interaction you do, it will not be in native English level.

You are required to make an appointment and is usually booked out for two weeks.  If you miss your appointment, you need to rebook again.


The documentation that you need in your application is pretty much straightforward and is outlined in the German embassy pages for working holiday visas.

One of the main areas of contention is around residence which was:
– Proof of main residence in Berlin
– Certificate of registration at the main residence or
– Rental agreement and written confirmation of occupancy from the landlord

I asked the embassy if it’s acceptable that I only show a booking for two weeks in temporary accommodation and they were fine with it.

A copy/paste of their answer is below:

Yes you will have to provide only the first 2 weeks accommodation in Germany for the VISA application.
Hotel / Hostel booking are accepted for this.


German Embassy Dublin

I am seeing some posts were others are going all the way to secure accommodation in Berlin as part of their application. For example, they would arrive in Berlin, go to Ausländerbehörd, sit there for a couple of hours to get confirmation that their real appointment is in 10 weeks, and during that time they’ll have the opportunity to do room viewings.  I did thought that perhaps there is an advantage for already being in Europe AND I am on a working holiday visa but I am aware of someone in Argentina who also went through the process at around the same time as I did and not seeing any issues with the paperwork.

Housing – moving from temporary, short-term housing to long-term

There are quiet a number of various residence options in Berlin and I have to admit that it has been a dream meeting the most basic residence requirement! Meaning that there is established infrastructure in place making foreigners seeking housing in Berlin very easy.  We are talking public transportation and all the different options and places that you have available to search for housing.

It is also possible to book for and pay for housing online on trusted, dedicated platforms where they make the effort to provide as much detail as they can on what to expect.

Overall, even though I didn’t need to book for months long accommodation for the working holiday visa application, I still had the option to do so safely and securely.

I think that Berlin is one of the leading hubs for expats / digital nomads, global / remote workers and so on.

Back to the paperwork.  Don’t forget that shortly within obtaining your long-term accommodation, you will also need to register with the town hall.  Check online for an appointment slot that is available.  In addition, there are documents that you need to take with you when you register.

One thing to keep in mind around housing is that if you require temporary accommodation to look for longer term housing, you do not need to register as a resident within two weeks of arriving.  I would recommend going for temporary housing while applying for the working holiday visa as this is enough.  Since it’s considered temporary, then you do not need get the additional documentation for residence.


A one year’s travel insurance is enough, so long as it covers Germany.  Certain visas may require specific types of insurance but a standard travel insurance is enough.  The reason being is that a working holiday visa is only temporary in nature.

One thing to keep in mind is that there is a difference between travel insurance and health insurance.  You can read more about my thoughts on this area here.


It is possible to open a bank account online and prior to arrival.  You can also authenticate your identity online and without needing to be in a branch.

There are also various loopholes when it comes to opening bank accounts.  It all depends on who you talk to, what type of account that you open and which bank.

Of course, you can also opt to go with other options that require in-person appearances.  Banks these days need to be customer-centric.  This means that banking services, should they wish to remain relevant in today’s modern world, also need to be available whenever and wherever the customer is.  Hopefully, we will see more of these practices rather than forcing customers to change their whole day’s schedule just to open an account or cash a cheque.


Once you have registered as a resident you can now apply for your unique German tax number (Steuer-ID).  This should be sent to you automatically after registering your German address.

Next part of the series…

Stay tuned for the next part of my German working holiday experience!

Luxury Beauty Tips for Digital Nomads and Travellers

That’s my haul from just one shopping trip…

Long intro / rant… skip this to my tips below!

Ever since I started travelling and working remotely, I seem to have developed a huge thing for makeup and skincare.  Much of it has been a change of habit.  I’ve very recently discovered YouTube make-up videos and since them, have learnt a lot about applying make-up.  When I was in Toronto, there really was very little for me to do (that was near where I lived anyway).  I therefore used to go out, maybe a few times a week, to go to the mall to shop.  I would go into a store, browse around, buy a face mask or some makeup.   The following week, I would go in again, browse around, buy a lotion or nail polish.  Next think I know, I have 8 bottles of nail polish, something like 30 skin care masks and months worth of hair care products.  Sure, I could opt to not go to the mall or not buy anything, but believe me, it was just sheer boredom that ended up multiplying with small purchases.  Even if I had opted to stay in, there was still the option to go online shopping.  I’ve mainly developed this just to get out of the house and go for a walk – but because of where I was living at the time in Canada, there were very little options to go for said walk.

When it was time to move overseas from Canada to Ireland, I ended up giving away quiet a few products.  It really wasn’t enough but that was fine.  Even if I ended up using my beauty and skin care products, I would end up refilling them.  Like that Lancôme haul in the photo!

Anyway, the following are some tips and advice around beauty / skin care for digital nomads / expats.  Enjoy!

Instead of a large brush, opt for a comb or those small detangler brushes.  I have two detangler brushes – one with a mirror compact mirror.  I recently bought this Tangle Teaser from Harvey Nicholls below:

If you are splurging on luxury brands, opt to get the gift set versions as they tend to be smaller.  While they won’t be good value for money they may be more convenient in being more portable.  I also find them to be a good introduction to a new line if you are new to the brand.

If you need more product, I always ask what size is available. Some brands only deliver limited sizes. Personally, I dislike larger product sizes – all I can think of is how annoying it will be when it’s time to pack.

Yes, definitely get those refillable travel bottles / containers.

I put all sorts of product in these – from hair spray to scrubs.

When purchasing foundation, opt for the ones delivering the foundation via a pump as they tend to last longer in regards to expiration dates. I very recently bought a Chanel foundation which is in a small pump and also have SPF.

Always go for palettes.  They come in a number of sizes and themes also.

For eyeshadow, my main issue with palettes is the eyeshadow fallout, so I usually clean around the edges after a few uses.

For lip palettes, there is the Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Palette as a good example:

Apparently you can make your own but I haven’t gotten to that stage yet. I’m pretty much a moth when it comes nice packaging.

Thin / small / compact is always better.

The higher-end brands tend to go for size and weight as markers of it being ‘luxury’.  For example, a common comment could be “It feels heavy…so it must be good!”.  I usually prefer the smaller/compact ones but at some point it becomes unavoidable when an eye cream you really want to use is in a heavy pot and you really don’t want to switch to a lighter pot…

Have mini serum / face masks at hand during long haul flights to moisturize the skin (and as a bonus, freak out everyone that walks past you).

Other items that find its way when I go on long haul flights – hand sanitizer, mini hand cream, mini face cream, lip balm, alcoholic wipes, perfume sample sprays, mini serum, etc.

Opt to use SPF for moisturiser and foundation – SPF 25 should be the minimum.  I previously used the Christian Dior Forever Perfect Foundation which has SPF 35.


Like above, look for options with dual benefits.  For example body shimmer with perfume. I recently bought the Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Shimmering Body Oil below which has the Tom Ford Soleil perfume scent:


You need to accept that there comes a stage when dragging along makeup tools like 10-set paddle brushes, packs of beauty blenders, face sponges, lash staplers, and so on are simply just too annoying to deal with.

Unfortunately…I bypass that stage after one month of settling in and my guilt peaks one month before moving when I realize how much I’ve manage to hoard.

Be nice to the beauty consultants so you can get samples 🙂 I always like to have small samples with me when going on short trips.

Compact everything.

Changing reasons for my travel

For a long time, I would usually plan my trips around a particular event and the event is usually an art fair or a tech conference or even better if it was both.  There was really only a handful of trips where I would just ‘go’ like a week in Marrakech. It usually worked out well – for example, in New York I would go to a few art fairs very quickly then have a lot of time spent just exploring the city.  In Monaco, I would explore Nice for a couple of days before heading out to Monaco.  But, the last time I did that was in Boston for a tech conference and I really was not happy with the experience I had then of exploring the city. I only had a couple of days off and ended up missing my flight so I had a large chunk of time that went missing.  By the time I arrived and checked in (it was in the historic Kendall Hotel at MIT since the conference was at MIT), I was too tired and cold to explore and ended up staying inside my room.  The conference started and on my days off in a city (that I wouldn’t be visiting for a long time again), I ended up spending most of it inside.  While it was all interesting, at the end of the day I was still inside a large conference hall.  Then, I had to rush off and catch my plane back to Canada.

So now, I am reconsidering how I usually plan.  I have with me a calendar of art and tech events.  I don’t mind planning my travel around art fairs, but honestly…I used to have a full schedule when it came to art fairs and by the time I exit one my mind is completely ‘full’ from the experience.  There are notable exceptions – like Art Basel or the Vienna Biennale – and I don’t think I will completely wipe away any notion of never going to these ever.  But right now, I am not as interested in going to “as many art fairs as I can!”.  My focus right now is trying to get as much of a genuine experience as I can from a city or culture.  There might be an art fair or tech conference thrown into it, but it won’t be the centre of my plans anymore.

All Roads Lead to Rome

There is an adage, “all roads lead to Rome” which has its roots in the “roads to Rome” as immortalized in the Milliarium Aureum monument.  The monument celebrates that many roads in Europe,  about half a million roads, radiates back to the ancient Italian capital.  Today the adage talks about a Golden Milestone taken into some sort of Ultimate Business Goal in which despite the number of many roads it will take to reach it, will eventually reach it.  There is even a paper written by researchers at a Finnish university that features that idiom:

Business models and business model change have drawn increasing attention from both researchers and practitioners across various disciplines, including the domain of entrepreneurship. However, even though the importance of business model innovation as a driver of firm performance has been widely acknowledged, empirical studies explaining the business model change remain limited. This study contributes to prior research by examining the effects of effectual and causation-based decision-making logics on the degree of business model change in the context of small and medium-sized enterprises in Finland. The findings of hierarchical regression analysis show that both causation and effectuation-based logics have positive effects on business model change, thereby highlighting the need for both strategizing and seizing of opportunities in business model development.

There is also a project featured on IEEE VISAP 2016 which visualizes this mobility statement and takes it even further by visualizing mobility in other countries and transportation systems around the Rome-equivalent.

Anyway, so why write about this…

I think that in our lives, we have at least one of our own personal, gilded Milliarium Aureum.  In this same token that Emperor Caesar Augustus erected it so that distances of the Empire are measured against it, we have our own where we measure our own life’s goals, plans and beliefs against it.  We have our own Milliarium Aureum which is our core personal beliefs and we build our lives in order to be able to act upon this.  Let’s say a core belief is to do no harm unto others, we therefore act upon our lives so that we do this and to varying degrees of intensity – like agreeing not to buy fast fashion from a company that uses child labour, or having spirituality that espouses this.

When I did coaching sessions, the coach would ask me leading questions as to why certain thought processes would come up for me.  And I would give an answer, like, “to be more independent“.  And then she would try to dig deeper and ask even more questions.  It sounds very easy but it’s very difficult to go through and I talk and think about aspects of myself that I otherwise don’t think about.  From these sessions, I found that independence is a term that is constantly coming up and I realize that is one of my Milliarium Aureum.

Checking one’s privilege. And where the biggest privilege is to f…

I somehow came across this post, The Privilege of Pursuing Financial Independence. The opening paragraph is:

Mr. Frugalwoods and I have made a lot of amazing financial choices, but the game is rigged. We were put in a position from birth to make these wise decisions and it’s not because we’re naturally brilliant people. Our financial advantages are the products of our socioeconomic status, our education levels, and most of all, the benefits we both had while growing up.

The entire post feels like a complete humblebrag, but at the same time, it’s a dose of reality in knowing that people are not on the same level playing field.

Continue reading Checking one’s privilege. And where the biggest privilege is to f…

Dealing with homesickness

I’ve written a few posts in the past on how I dealt with homesickness.

One of my methods was just acceptance. In 2012, I decided not to jump to another WH visa and just head home.  I just wanted to relax and just…go home to Australia.

Another method was to take myself out of social media and networking sites a few times. I found that social media has an artificial type way of keeping in touch where it’s all about how active someone is online.

When my sister went on holidays to New York in 2015, I would have budgeted madly to be able to go and luckily I did.

There were times when I could have easily just bought a plane ticket back ‘home’ but those thoughts have subsided.  Whenever I have those days, I usually resort to writing or listening to meditation.

Is this even real?

The biggest issue I have is having a ‘is this even real?’ type of moments.  I think it’s when I am in a new situation and my mind is still getting used to it.  Like, when I walk down a street in London and the sun is setting, I get the “Wow, I am actually in London” type of thought. Or the time when I am not sure if that particular memory of walking down along a brick building was in the Distillery District in Toronto or The Rocks in Sydney since they look so much alike.  Things start to meld, I get fleeting moments of homesickness only because I am reminded of some past memory.

This is just a reminder of how short your days, weeks, and years can be.  Make the most of it.

Bloating The ‘Digital’ in Digital Nomad


That was a part of my setup about a year ago.  It also doesn’t include a small box I had with smaller electronics, two keyboards, three mobile phones, two Arduino kits, a Raspberry Pi kit, a soldering kit, a printer, Xbee wifi kits and a lot of cables.

A bit after that I have another 21″ monitor – I’ve moved houses since that photo was taken so my desk was a lot bigger.

Edit: I’ve since moved and have shed quiet a bit of gear including giving away a few laptops.  But the really light 19″ monitor is great for hauling around – if only it was foldable though..

Musings on Life Scripts and Lifelong Goals

I have moved in and out of so many social circles.

I feel like I play the part of an observer, and I observe these circles.  I observe what is socially acceptable, what is unacceptable, what is desired.

And it changes depending on where you are, how you grew up… basically the building blocks of constructing your social reality.

What’s really crazy is that due to many factors out of your control, your reality is already shaped.  If your ancestors decided to migrate to Scotland, rather than Wales, your parents decided to send you off to boarding school, or some other human-level decision made all have the ability to change your social reality.

I was thinking about the social construct of “The Dream” and how it differs yet still share commonalities.  For example, popular notions of what is thought to be The Australian Dream, The American Dream, and The Canadian Dream all lead to some level of real estate investment, consumerism and the focus on individualism.

And yet, these Dreams have subtle differences.  Take suburbs for example.  If you have never lived in Montreal you are not going to be familiar with the notability around Westmount.  If you have never lived in London, you are not going to have the awareness of the name “St John’s Wood” evokes. For South Africa, it is Sandhurst.  And so on.  And yet many individuals (and in turn, families) completely mold their entire life for the sheer psychological thrill of living in this areas.  Sure, maybe they will construct various artifacts to rationalise this.

The same goes for even the small decisions in life.  Eventually, everything adds up.  Eventually things decay.  Even a primarily home real estate decays … or depreciate in value hence why it is not considered to be an investment by asset managers.  And yet it’s one of the most powerful or at least common ‘scripts’ that can take over our lives.

And yet, I can’t bring myself to the reality of this.  Why? One of my long-term and lifelong dreams is to be able to live in at least four main geographical regions spanning the world. The desire to enact on this script is strong enough that it’s the every day driving force that helps pushes me to do what I do.  If today is not helping me get closer to that goal, then it’s a day wasted and a day lost.  If I ever find myself veering off this script, then I need to get back on that path and it needs to be ASAP.  If something is happening in my life that is negatively affecting my ability to reach this goal, I take that away from my life.

I think it’s very important to have these truly lifelong goals, otherwise it’s so easy to just give up when things get tough.

And on that note, once I have a taste of what it’s like to be on the road on these types of goals… then it gets easier and easier to add more lifelong goals.

Trips of note during my 1.5 year stay in Canada

This is another 2016 round-up entry but this entry is more focused on travel.  I also realized that I have been really quiet in keeping up to date with my travel blogging.  I don’t have a personal Facebook or Instagram account and I have steered clear (for the most part) sharing anything remotely personal on Twitter.  In this case, I’m just going to do a round-up post over the past 1.5 years.

Below is a notable list of trips since I moved to Canada (May 2015 to October 2016):

  • New York 1 – for the 2016 fashion week and to catch up with my sister
  • New York 2 – art fairs
  • New York 3 – even more art fairs
  • Boston, Mass – for a conference at MIT
  • Miami, Florida – checking out the art scene, bought a bit of the local art
  • Las Vegas, Nevada – for a conference
  • Seattle, Washington – for a conference
  • Somewhere in Washington state – for the 4th of July celebrations!
  • Waikiki, Hawaii – week-long holiday
  • Vancouver, British Columbia – lived here for a short while
  • Toronto, Ontario – lived here for just over a year
  • Kelowna and Okanagan Valley, British Columbia – checking out the wine region
  • Sun Peaks, British Columbia – holiday
  • Niagara, Ontario – the falls!
  • Wasaga Lake and Simcoe County, Ontario – first time I’ve encountered the great Ontario lakes! And yes there is a beach on this massive lake.
  • Stratford, Ontario – went for a Shakespeare festival and their high street/downtown core reminds me so much of the town that I grew up in!
  • St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador – all day layover
  • Dublin, Ireland – helloooooo Europe!

I didn’t go to the other main Canadian cities (Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City) since I have already visited in my first great Canadian trip of 2010-2011.

I was also going to visit Chicago for an art fair and even had my accommodation (not flights) booked, but decided against it.

In the end, it has been an interesting time.  I wish that I was able to experience more of the Canadian lake areas during the spring and summer.  Cottages are a pretty big deal in Canada!

Another activity that I didn’t do was anything to do with snow like skiing.  The last time was in Whistler several years ago and honestly, I haven’t looked back since then.