This week, Karla Fraser takes your questions. 

Disclaimer: You asked for advice. We’re providing it. But make sure you check with the actual professionals to make the right decision, especially when it comes to immigration.

Q: I plan to move abroad in less than one year. What are the best ways to start downsizing while I have the time?

A: Great ‘planning ahead for your move’ question! I share with friends and clients alike, the philosophy – Keep, Storage, Sell, Donate, and Suitcase.  I used it all when I first moved abroad  13  years ago. Granted, I wish I had used some more than others.  

Keep: These are one-of-a-kind sentimental items and memorable treasures. It might also include important documents that you do not want to carry with you.

Storage:  Leave items that can be stored with family, friends, or a trusted person. If your items to be stored are more than a couple of boxes, consider a storage unit. It is best if that unit is temperature-controlled as this will prevent mildew, aging, or dry-rotting if you are gone for years like me. 

Sell: This is my favorite part of decluttering.  Take all those gently used items and have a sale. It’s a great way to get rid of things and add to your moving fund. When I moved, I sold many items and used the funds to pay for my storage.

Donate: Another preferred way to take all the items that did not sell, plus other things you no longer want and give them to a reputable charity. When I left Singapore, I donated my clothes to be shredded and used in other recycling projects. If you are moving from the US, there could be a tax benefit; check with your tax accountant or the IRS website. 

Suitcase: This will depend on your airline or your willingness to pay a max of two suitcases per person on your part, plus your carry on. If you are solo, pack the essentials, learn the trick of using packing cubes, and mix and match your wardrobe. Pack important papers, medicine, jewelry, and electronics in your carry-on. As a family, you will have more room-based needs of each person to pack a bit more of your personal items. If this is a long-term move to a specific location, you might consider shipping 1-2 small boxes but remember you might have to pay taxes and duties when they arrive in your new country. 

I wish I practiced a bit more of this downsizing during my first move. Remember, the more you declutter, the easier your move becomes.


Q: I consider myself a foodie with food allergies. What can I do to enjoy as much I can and stay safe while abroad?

A: I also love to eat and try new foods while traveling or being an expat. I have a shellfish allergy and sometimes, it is a hidden ingredient in meals.  I find myself always reading menus twice and asking about ingredients. So far, this has helped me to manage quite well.

Here are few things you may want to practice:

  1. Learn the local names of the ingredients/foods you are allergic to, as well as the phrase “I am allergic”.  

  2. Phrases like “It makes me sick” or “I will have to go to the hospital if I eat [said ingredient]” also help. 

  3. Use pictures of the item and be clear that you cannot eat it.

  4. Do “restaurant or street food” research before and during your travels.

  5. Ask if they have an English menu or find someone who can translate the menu.

  6. Ask to speak with the Chef to explain your situation and find out what they could cook for you.

  7. If you stay at the hotel, be sure to notify the kitchen staff if you plan to eat meals on the property.

  8. Sometimes even when you have done all you can, your meal may still come with an allergen on your plate.  Ask for a new meal to be made or change your choice. 


Remember, some dishes might contain allergens because it’s part of the sauce or a marinate for the protein.  In these cases you may not know until you are having a reaction.  It is vital that you have your prescription medication on hand to combat such instances.


Some other  recommendations and considerations might include: 

  • Know the location of the closest clinic or hospital where you stay.

  • Before you travel abroad, consult your physician about the best methods to manage your allergies in unexpected cases.

  • If you are solo, have a trusted person locally to help you manage if you get into a crisis. 


To enjoy world gastronomy, might require a bit of adjustment to your palate. Create a plan, then enjoy some local delights. Stay safe,  eat heartily!


Have A Question? Need advice? Ask away

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