Changes in the vaccination landscape: How should transferees adjust?

The health landscape is shifting as communities deal with a rising number of families opting out of vaccines for their children. The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies “vaccination hesitancy” as one of the 10 threats to global health in 2019.

What does this mean for a globally mobile workforce?

It means that transferees need to be vigilant about vaccination guidelines, and careful to protect their family members when moving into areas where diseases are more prevalent than in the past. For example, the WHO has seen a 30% increase in measles cases worldwide since 2016.

In places where vaccinations had eradicated certain diseases, non-vaccinated people were still protected thanks to ‘herd immunity.’ Gaps in immunized populations now put those who cannot be vaccinated at greater risk. These vulnerable individuals include people who are severely immunocompromised due to cancer or other conditions. They may need to take greater care when settling into new communities where illnesses now pose a greater threat.

To prepare for travel and protect your family’s health, be aware of the vaccination situation in your destination country. Established by the WHO, Vaccine Safety Net is a global network of websites that provides reliable information on vaccine safety.  The network includes 72 member websites in 34 countries. Search by country or language here.

In addition, below are links to health organizations in a selection of countries: 

Australia: Australian Department of Health – Immunisation
Get the Facts” campaign

Brazil:  Sociedade Brasileira de Imunizações (SBI) (in Portuguese)

Canada: Health Canada
Provincial and Territorial Immunization Information

China:  National Health Commission (in Chinese):
Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention – National Immunization Program (NIP)

EU: Throughout Europe, each country has its own vaccination policy, but the EU also establishes some common guidelines.
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
Vaccine schedules in all EU countries

UK: National Health Services (NHS)
NHS England
NHS Scotland
NHS Wales
Health and Social Care (HSC) Northern Ireland

US: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Also be aware of changing laws. Just last week, New York State passed a law ending religious exemptions for immunizations, leaving only medical reasons why a child will be allowed to enter school unvaccinated.

Staying informed and consulting with your physician before travel will help keep your family healthy abroad.

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group

What is the best way to communicate in Angola?

In Angola, Portuguese is spoken as the primary language of business.

What is a good backup language if you do not know Portuguese?

a.  Angolese
b.  French
c.  German
d.  English

Click here for the answer!

From swipe to tap

This past Friday, New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority took an important new step. OMNY, or One Metro New York, is the city’s new fare payment system. Passengers who use OMNY pay their fares using a contactless card, or a digital wallet. Here are videos that demonstrate how to use them:

Contactless card: 

Digital wallet: 

Riders must create an account in order to use OMNY, and can do so at the OMNY website.

As of Summer 2019, payment via OMNY is only available for full-fare, transfer-free rides on portions of the 4, 5, and 6 subway lines, and all Staten Island MTA buses. However, OMNY rollout will continue over the next several years. Eventually all passengers on all MTA bus, subway, and commuter rail lines in the New York City metropolitan area will be able to use OMNY to pay fares. A replenishable OMNY fare card will be made available. In 2023, the MetroCard, which riders currently use to “swipe” through turnstiles, will be retired.

Many other cities throughout the world have already made the transition to contactless fare payment systems for mass transit, including London, Rio de Janeiro, Adelaide, Toronto, and Seoul.

Business traveler, we’ve got your back!

When you hit the road or take to the skies for a business trip abroad, you’ve got a lot on your mind. Even before you leave home, you need to plan the logistics of travel and assemble documents required for entry. While the business purpose of your visit dominates your focus, you’re also aware that culture and protocols may differ from home. Knowing them can set you at ease and accelerate your business goals. Finally, there are aspects of daily life that affect your experience in very practical ways, such as weather, money, national holidays, and taxes on restaurant meals.
How would you like some help with all of that?

Living Abroad’s Global Business Travel Center delivers all this and more. Take a look at Canada, for example:

– Right at the top, you’ll find links to 2019 Canadian holiday dates, weather forecasts, currency calculator, and news. A real-time clock lets you know at a glance what time it is at your destination.

– Descriptions and links to major international airports and details on ground transportation help you plan your travel.

– Find out what entry procedures you need to follow, keeping in mind that business travel is scrutinized at the Canadian border, necessitating proper documentation and support information.

-Learn what languages are used in business, and access translators’ listings and government language resources.

– Familiarize yourself with important aspects of doing business in Canada, like hierarchy, relationships, how meetings are conducted, whether to give a gift, and general style concepts.

-Know what to expect in restaurants, from the excellent beef in Calgary and seafood in the Maritimes to the provincial or harmonized sales tax that can add five to 15% to the cost of your meal.

Access nearly 150 destination reports from your mobile phone, tablet, or computer with your company’s subscription. And watch your next business trip really take flight.

Culture anyone?

Do you have colleagues traveling for work or moving to another country? Is your sales force traversing across continents? Entering a new international market can be a nerve-wracking proposition for even the most seasoned businessperson.  How can you and your team avoid offending foreign business partners? Consider discussing etiquette.’s recent research showed that 62% of business travelers polled feel that lack of cultural understanding and resulting errors in etiquette, affect a company’s reputation and bottom line.  Ouch!  Certain gestures and behaviors that are acceptable in one country or city can cause offence in another and cause a business deal to flounder. surveyed 4,500 business travelers across eight countries. One third admitted to a cultural faux pas during business travel. About half had observed a colleague make one.”

According to the survey, here are the top 5 business etiquette blunders:

Being on a mobile device during a meeting    46%
Not greeting people appropriately    43%
Inappropriate attire    36%
Speaking loudly    32%
Not responding to emails within 24 hours    19%

Believe it or not, 83% of business travelers know the importance of correct etiquette when traveling to a different country.  While about three out of four business travelers say they research the country’s business etiquette before they go, that does not fully guarantee against an error in etiquette.

Top 5 countries who admit to business etiquette faux pas:

China     67%
Italy    65%
USA    58%
Germany    56%
Spain    52%

What are the top concerns for business travelers?

Dining and pleasantries:
There are many cultural nuances when it comes to food and small talk.  About 25% of the respondents were uncomfortable going to a restaurant with people they did not know well.  One-third worried about being served too much alcohol along with what topics were safe to discuss over a meal.

Mobile devices:
Half of respondents strongly believed that being on your mobile device during a meeting is the most offensive.

43% of global business travelers believed that not greeting a business associate properly was one of the biggest cultural faux pas one can commit.  Japanese business travelers (61%) viewed improper greetings as the highest form of rudeness.  Speaking loudly, for (50%) of Chinese respondents, was the biggest cultural faux pas in their country.

What should happen if you accidentally offend a foreign colleague? While 37% of Italian business travelers felt an apology should be offered right away, 69% of Japanese business travelers believed it was important to make amends immediately.

There are more nuances to global business etiquette than meet the eye.  A strong understanding of how culture impacts business is essential to recognizing the specific cultural differences between countries.  If your employees are hitting the road, ask about any concerns they might have. Offer resources for your global employees to make the most of their assignment, business event, or business meetings.  The results will yield a more productive and confident employee and a successful outcome to your global business relationships.

How do they celebrate fiestas in Spain?

Fiestas and performing arts are important parts of life in Spain. _________ is in a class by itself and is considered to reflect the soul of Spain.

  1. Flamenco
  2. Jai-alai
  3. Bull fighting
  4. A musical production

Click here for the answer!

What’s your unexpected?

From cross-cultural communication challenges, to last minute meeting changes, to unexpected traffic in an unfamiliar city, to your toothbrush not making it into your luggage, to needing a cup of coffee or a quick mile run, business travel requires expecting the unexpected.

While staying in a larger hotel makes many solutions available on site or nearby, more and more business travelers use homestay services such as Airbnb. In any lodging situation, taking just a few minutes to locate key conveniences ahead of time can go a long way toward making your trip frustration free. Be sure to think about your destination, the goals for your trip, and your likely needs.

Here are some common unexpected but necessary destinations. Which ones could be important to you on your next trip?

  • Taxi stand
  • Mass transportation stop or station
  • Alternate route to appointment or meeting
  • Reservable meeting space
  • Dry cleaning services
  • Clothing store
  • Library
  • Pharmacy
  • Supermarket
  • ATM
  • Parcel shipment and business services
  • Sports/fitness gym
  • Biking/jogging paths
  • Urgent care facility

Your concierge, homestay host, and colleagues can all be good sources of information. Another option is to visit Google Maps and, for example, type “taxi stand near (lodging address)” in the box that appears on the top right. This will open a map with pins on all nearby options, allowing you to determine for yourself which option is likely to be the most convenient.

Written by Erin Fitzgerald, GMS, Content Manager

Don’t lose track of the small details!

Are you involved with your company’s global mobility program and the many moving parts that go with handling successful international relocations?  Busy mobility professionals know that it’s easy for small details to pass unnoticed until things stop running smoothly, especially with all the juggling of local security, healthcare, tax, visas, benefits, and insurance.

One of the key areas of support for an international relocation, no matter the length, is access to pre-departure information.  Another is in-country guidance.  Assignees need to become familiar with their host locations by having access to detailed country descriptions, as well as robust housing information, discussions on schools, and business etiquette and social customs.  They’ll be relieved to know more about their new destinations before they go, as they settle in, and when they do business.

How does providing destination-specific information to your assignees and business travelers benefit your company?

  1. Raises assignee & family confidence levels
  2. Protects your company’s talent investment
  3. Eliminates questions to HR through up-to-date and local destination descriptions
  4. Guides assignees through setting up home and doing business in new environments
  5. Increases potential for assignment success

Your globally mobile colleagues also need answers at their fingertips and often reach for their smartphones first.  Make sure the information they reach for is not only easily accessible but also vetted and targeted to business users.

With Living Abroad’s International Relocation Center, your assignees and business travelers will never be far from getting the information they need, when they need it, no matter where they are in the world!  Subscribe to the destinations you need – from 1 to 230 – with easy access from all mobile devices.

The best-prepared assignees are happy and productive, so equip them today for success in the future. Delivering on this takes time and research. Thousands of employees and their managers rely on the IRC, allowing users to focus on business goals and eliminating the distraction of random destination research. Informed employees stay happier on assignment, and are more likely to achieve their business goals.

We believe in giving you a proven solution that works time and time again!
Curious?  Click here for a demo.


What are you waiting for?

Last week’s devastating fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral had onlookers struggling to comprehend the damage. Losing an irreplaceable piece of history prompted immediate, generous support toward rebuilding. But for those who never got a chance to lay eyes on the original 12th Century Paris masterpiece, that opportunity is now forever lost.

The world is full of wonders, and people who travel for business are in an excellent position to experience them.  Some things are so obvious that we put off visiting. Or they are so close to us, we tell ourselves that ‘someday’ we will get there. Then something intervenes, and the window of opportunity closes – even temporarily.

New York’s Statue of Liberty, for example, was closed over safety concerns for three years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. U.S. national parks have closed – or been left unstaffed – at various times due to federal budget shutdowns.

And it’s not always negative events that make venues off-limits. Ongoing maintenance and restoration work – like Notre Dame had underway – causes closings, reduced schedules, and/or restricted access.

If you live or plan to travel near any of the world’s most famous landmarks, here are some links to help bring you one step closer to that visit:

Eiffel Tower – Paris, France
Great Wall of China – various locations
Machu Picchu – Cusco, Peru
Statue of Liberty – New York, NY
Stonehenge – Wiltshire, England
Sydney Opera House – Sydney, Australia
Taj Mahal – Agra, India
Victoria Falls – Livingstone, Zambia

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) lists 1092 World Heritage sites around the world. More than three-quarters of them are cultural, and one-fifth are natural. Fifty-four sites are in danger.

The world is changing at an astounding rate. And yet these places anchor us in history, astonish us with ingenuity, architecture, or engineering, and calm us with natural beauty – all of which have lasted for decades or centuries. Isn’t such an experience worth a trip soon?

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group

How do you greet someone in Gabon?

Which of the following is a greeting you might encounter in Gabon?

a.  Raising both hands into the air
b.  Hugging with air kisses (in the French manner)
c.  Taking someone’s offered hand with both hands
d.  Shaking the offered wrist or forearm
e.  All of the above
f.  None of the above