How to Prepare for Your International Adventure (Pt. 1)
So you have made the decision to take a leap and travel the world, great! So now that it's time to prepare to board that first flight, what comes first? It can be really stressful planning for live overseas so I thought I would put together a to-do list that should help settle some nerves before takeoff.
Looking for the second half of the to-do list? How to Prepare for Your International Adventure (Pt. 2)
TO DO (Pt. 1):
1. Make a plan
Before you quit your job, buy dozens of airplane tickets, or book a hotel, first think of why you want to travel and what you want to accomplish. Do you just want to do short term sightseeing? Do you want to hit every continent in the span of a year? Want to Roam around South America and learn Spanish?
Once you have a clear idea of what you want out of travel then you can start looking into more details to prepare your trip. You don't need to know exactly where and when you will be every day of the year but traveling without some sort of a goal or purpose can be a setup for disappointment. Even if your goal is just to get away from the 9-5 life for a year and experience the world, know why you are leaving home before you do it.
2. Get a passport
Seems like common sense but if you are leaving the country, first thing is first, get a passport. If you already have one, double check the expiration date because most countries won't let you in if you have less than 6 months before the expiration date. Or, if your passport is full of stamps, you will also need to put in an order for a new one. If there isn't enough space for a stamp on arrival and departure you might be denied entry. Also keep in mind that some countries require a full page visa as well as a stamp so if you only have a couple pages left it might be time to renew.
Or, if your passport is full of stamps, you will also need to put in an order for a new one. If there isn't enough space for a stamp on both arrival and departure you might be denied entry. Also, keep in mind that some countries require a full page visa as well as a stamp so if you only have a couple pages left it might be time to renew.
3. Assess your job situation
Ask yourself about your current job situation before the globetrotting begins. Will your boss let you take a month off to travel? Can you find a new job easily if you leave for a year? If you own a small business, would switching time zones destroy connections with clients/co-workers?
I know people that have up and left their jobs and used their savings to travel the world for a year before going back to work without any problem at all. I also know people that have online businesses and have traveled the world for years as they work. Many countries such as Australia also have working holidays where you can work a part-time job while you do some long term sightseeing.
4. Check your finances
If you have student loans, car payments, or child support to pay, it might not be the best time to quit your job and travel the world for a year. This ties in a bit with the job assessment, but make sure that you can financially support your travel decisions before you find yourself homeless in a foreign country. When people are on vacation, they tend to spend more than when at home so be careful when budgeting for your trip. With that said, if you are a smart traveler it can still be possible to save money by traveling the world.
5. Don't forget about taxes
Just because you will disappear for a while doesn't mean that your taxes do. I lived overseas for 10 years and still had to submit tax forms to the US every year. Since most of the time I was making money overseas and not in my home country, I never had to pay US taxes but I still had to submit annual forms to the IRS.
There are also little things with tax breaks to think about and look into as well. For example, I would have gotten a tax break for living in the US at least 6 months last year but I was only there 5 months and 3 weeks. Just my luck. If you own an online business you also have to think about making money from clients affects your US taxes as well so plan accordingly.
6. Assess your living situation
When you go overseas, not only will you have to find a place to sleep when you are gone but you will need to find something to do with your current place. Looking into doing a timeshare, renting out your home, or putting it on Airbnb are all great options while you are gone. If your lease is up or you just sold your home, don't forget that depending on your situation you still might need an address in your country to get mail, or register for things. Also remember that you will need to find a new place when you get back from your travels.
7. Leave someone in charge of your stuff back home
When going overseas for a long period of time chances are you will need some point of contact back home. You never know if there will be an emergency or situation where you need someone to sign something on your behalf. Because of this, I highly suggest looking into a power of attorney.
You might also want to think about having someone check your mail back home if you are leaving a place alone for a while. My address is registered as my father's apartment and just this past week he let me know that I was summoned for jury duty. If I didn't have anyone let me know about jury duty I would be in for some trouble when I get back to the US.
8. Get insurance
If you are feeling lucky, you can travel without insurance but that probably isn't always the best option. If you are traveling on a short vacation, I recommend getting travel insurance and staying with your main insurance provider back home.
For long overseas stays, however, travel insurance can get expensive. Paying for insurance back home when you aren't even there can also add up so looking into international insurance options might be a good idea. My top recommendation for international insurance is IntegraGlobal. As long as you are not in the US, rates are pretty low and every time you move to a new country all you have to do is let them know where you will be so that you can keep your coverage for where you are going. If IntregraGlobal doesn't work out, Square Mouth is another good site that compares rates from various insurance providers around the world.
9. Need a Visa?
Although taking a trip into the unknown can be exhilarating, buying a plane ticket before researching visa requirements is never a smart move. First off, some countries have strict visa restrictions and you could be denied entry without a visa ahead of time. When I applied for a tourist visa to China it took two weeks of going back and forth to the Chinese embassy before I finally got my visa. If I had just booked a flight and figured I could get a visa on arrival I would have wasted hundreds of dollars on a flight I couldn't have taken.
10. Do some basic research
Before I buy a plane ticket to a new destination I always make sure to check the following
- Cost of living
- Wifi Speed (very important for my job)
- Basic local customs
- What there is to do
WikiTravel and Lonely Planet are usually my go-to sites for general country information. Also, make sure to research the cost of living in countries you plan on traveling using sites such as Numbeo.