The thought of moving and living abroad can be daunting or exhilarating! Whether you want to explore more of the world, seek a change of pace, or you simply have the travel bug…it’s possible, it’s do-able, and there is a smart way to make it happen.
There’s so much to be done! Here are some actionable steps can you take to get the party started. We’ve always envisioned a life abroad, so once we made the decision to set our course (and a date!), it became too real to back out of. Really, that was our number 1.
- Set a departure date! Without a date, it’s easy to drag your feet while facing the unending amount of affairs you want to get in order. Before you know it, your intended date of departure will come and go just as fast as the time. What made the difference for us was not only setting a departure date, but purchasing our flights! Yikes, right? It was real and we had a tangible ticket. No turning back, instead, it was time to follow through on our other items.
- Set up a Global Mail Box. If you’re leaving a permanent residence and don’t have a destination for your mail, you can sign up with a global mail forwarding service. We use US Global Mail. You get a free US address as your virtual mailbox. You’ll also be able to see images of your envelopes and packages in real time.
- Check country visa requirements. For long term travel, this is a priority. A visa is an endorsement where the holder is allowed to remain in a country for a specified amount of time. Visa requirements vary from country to country so be sure to check ahead and confirm the different ways to apply and what the specifications are.
- Credit Cards. Check the expiration dates on your credit cards and be sure to request new ones if your cards will be expiring soon. Also, notify your credit/debit card companies that you’ll be using your card out of the country. Often times this is not necessary if your card has a microchip but we still make it a habit to notify them. You don’t want to be stuck in a foreign country without access to your funds because your credit card company noticed ‘suspicious activity.’
- STEP Program: For US citizens, the government offers the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program as a free service that enrolls you in the nearest US Embassy or Consulate while abroad. You can expect to receive important information about safety conditions in the country you’re traveling to, along with help in emergency situations (civil, natural, or family related).
- Important Documents: Rules are different in other countries. It’s always wise to have copies of all of your important documents. If you’re moving abroad for work, you might need originals, or notarized/authenticated copies of your original documents. We usually keep electronic and physical copies of all of our documents. A few close relatives also have access to these electronic copies as well (i.e. birth certificate, marriage certificate, diplomas, etc…).
- Travel Insurance: Just like with any insurance, you want to make sure you, your trips, and belongings are covered. Travel insurance typically covers unforeseen events that happen before or during your trip. We use Allianz and are happy with the coverage but thank God we haven’t had to use it yet! There are lots of companies out there; check out options at Allianz or find another carrier that suites your needs.
- Sell Your Belongings: Once we purchased our flights it was a mad dash to unload, separate, donate, and sell the majority of our possessions. Apps like Let It Go and Offer Up made the process a bit easier for others in our area interested in our items. To be honest, we wanted to have as much money in our pockets as possible before leaving the states.
- Stay Connected: Social media makes it entirely too easily to keep in touch with family and friends around the world. Outside of that, there are still several options to keep in touch – extend your current phone plan to add international roaming, get an unlocked phone or a phone with dual-sim cards, or sign up for a number with Google voice. Start a blog, or use another platform to document your journey, try call/texting/video chat apps like Whatsapp. Also, recognize that some countries prohibit access to some these sites…this is where a VPN comes in handy! ExpressVPN has saved our sanity on several occasions during our stint in China.
- Research your creature comforts: You’re transitioning into an arena that might take a big adjustment so consider the things that bring you piece and comfort. Certain comforts/items may not be available where you’re traveling – take note and stock up.
Ready to take the plunge?
Let us know below what other tips you have for moving abroad.