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  1. Update from us: Flights in and out ended last weekend. Country mostly locked down. We’re teleworking and staying home. Our main worry is getting sick in a country with sub-par healthcare. We’re working non-stop to repatriate whoever wants/needs to. It sounds simple but it’s a giant negotiation between host country and airlines, airports and customs, health authorities and security issues. And it’s a massive effort reaching out to citizens to make sure everyone knows about possible flights (or more likely flight, singular). Everyone is literally working round the clock. We thought about leaving, too, but we’ve decided to stay as air travel is risky and our US home is very rural with few nearby medical resources that we predict will be completely overwhelmed. Older kids hanging in. Laying low.
  2. We’re doing okay. Still a few commercial flights coming in and out but restricted to residents arriving. Those will end soon we think due to lack of demand. Kids are home. Social distancing is being strongly encouraged but we’re not at shutdown yet. Concerned about our healthcare options if we get sick so trying hard to avoid that. One kid in Europe doing okay self isolating in their apartment. One kid at university in the US who was supposed to fly here then borders closed so is now with a sibling in the US. Big kids out of jobs as they had service industry work paying the bills so I expect we’ll be supporting them for a while. I’m getting the house ready in case we are evacuated at short notice.
  3. Request an automatic. They’re increasingly common, but a stick shift will give you more options. Get the full insurance deal so you’re not worried constantly about scrapes and dings. That extra money is worth the peace of mind. You shouldn’t need an international license in any of those countries. Your valid US license is fine. You can check with the rental car companies to be sure. Spend some time looking at routes you want to take. Consider cost of gas, toll roads and borders when calculating time and $$. Most cars will have navigation, but you can download offline google maps or get a local SIM so you have data. In some countries Waze is better and more up to date than google maps; ask the rental company what they use. In this day and age of google and Wikipedia, it's easy to look up road signs and traffic laws for each country. Common differences of US and the rest of the world are that right turns aren’t allowed on red, you don’t necessarily have to come to a full stop for a passing emergency vehicle, and there are stricter rules about passing on the left and hogging the middle lane on a freeway. Good luck and have fun!
  4. This is true for my husband also. He does occasionally go into the office early in the morning for an hour or two before a trip to count one less vacation day, but he routinely works a 60+ hour week, not counting all the work he does on weekends etc., so his employer definitely gets the better “deal” in this situation, even counting the few times he’s worked short days. PS. Long, long time lurker, occasional poster when I have actual knowledge on a subject to help, but had to change user name.
  5. Jumping in with a late reply. I started using shampoo and conditioner bars from Lush about a year ago for reasons similar to yours. Not a consumables post, but no liquids in the mail, expensive and inferior local products, teenaged girls x3 with long hair, and a growing concern about plastic waste. The shampoo is easy to use without tangling. You can get a good lather using downward strokes on your hair then gently lathering as normal. Oddly I find the conditioner I have harder to just smooth on, and I feel myself rubbing it in more vigorously. I will try one that claims to be more moisturizing and creamier next if possible. The one I have is purple. My hair looks and feels good. I would look at cons of purchasing a two year stock in places with a warm climate. There are no preservatives in the bars. It may be fine or you may even consider refrigerating or storing in air conditioned areas. That would depend on your posting. I’m just musing. We’ve managed with one online order and replenishing on work trips to Europe and the US and having family bring some in. We’re pouch only and it is sloooooow, so slow here, and I prefer not to use it if possible. I also recommend their lotion bars and massage bars in lieu of large plastic bottles of lotion for both traveling and every day. Good luck!
  6. I’m so jealous. I’ve been tracking our grocery budget and my new goal is to get it under $1500 a month. We are in a high COL country. We go to the open air market for produce, order things on Amazon and Costco that are cheaper than buying local, and we do receive a COL allowance to offset that amount somewhat. Family of 7. We eat very little meat, cook everything from scratch, and don’t have dietary restrictions other than two vegans. ETA my high COL country is not the UK.
  7. Orange jelly is orange jello, but British jelly/jello does not come in powder form, rather it is a very concentrated gel that you break into cubes and melt into the boiling water. Gogle orange jelly cubes and you'll get a better idea. I imagine for a jaffa cake cake you need a concentrated jello, so you could make regular orange jello using less liquid than normal with the powder. Caster sugar is just slightly finer than regular American white sugar. For most cooking you can substitute regular sugar. Enjoy, and good luck!
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