How to Prepare for Your International Adventure (Pt. 2)
Looking for part 1 of this article? How to Prepare for Your International Adventure (Pt. 1)
Now that we have half of our preparation done, let's look at what is left to do before takeoff.
To Do (pt. 2):
11. Visit the doctor
Especially if you are about to trade in your insurance, it might be good to get one last checkup before going overseas. If you are going to visit countries where life-threatening diseases are rampant, make sure to get appropriate vaccinations ahead of time. Some vaccinations take a few rounds so plan ahead of time and don't wait until the last minute to get vaccinated. Also, Double check that there are no restrictions on taking prescription drugs you might have into another country.
12. Start networking
When going to a new country for the first time, having people there to help you out can be invaluable. If you know people where you are going, shoot them a message to ask for local recommendations. Or if you don't know anyone, chances are someone you know might so maybe try putting up a post on facebook asking for connections. Having a local to hang out with or show you around helps you get a way better feel for the country and culture than just sightseeing on your own. If you are going to a country where you don't know the language having someone to help with translation can also get you out of a sticky situation.
13. Find a place to stay
Most people think hotel for short term comfortable sleeping or hostel for long term cheap sleep but there are a few more options if you search hard enough. Airbnb has become recently popular and you can find good deals for long term stays. Or if you are lucky, you could also find a hostel that would let you sleep in exchange for part time work. And for those with absolutely no budget, there is always couch surfing.
14. Money exchange
In general, you usually get a better rate from exchanging after arrival, however, it is still advisable to at least change a little currency before you arrive. Some people watch money rates like hawks looking for the best time to exchange but personally, it feels like too much effort for the amount I am changing so I usually just exchange when I need to.
Withdrawing local money from an ATM is possible too but there are usually fees for this so if you do, be careful not to withdraw too many times. From personal experience, some ATMs might also reject your card for no reason so don't be too reliant on them.
If you are just leaving the country for a week there is no need to go crazy and get rid of everything you own but if you are leaving everything behind it is time to embrace the minimalist lifestyle. I mostly just had to get rid of clothes before I embarked on my journey but if you have a lot of furniture it can take time to get rid of so plan accordingly. The good news is that selling everything can help pay off that first plane ticket (Or maybe the whole trip depending on how much you have). Cutting off your emotional connection to material things can be difficult so good luck!
16. Buy a plane ticket
This goes back to planning, but you should know what you want to do before buying a ticket. Depending on your plan, you might want to get a round-trip, one-way, or multiple-destination ticket. And if you need a push to start planning your trip abroad, buying a ticket right away gives you a preparation deadline.
If you are flexible with dates/destinations and want to compare many factors, I highly recommend a site like Sky Scanner. Or, if you want someone to do the searching for you and save you more money than if you were to search yourself, Flight Fox is also highly recommended. And for the cheapest flights, as a rule of thumb buy tickets in low seasons at the beginning of the week around 6 weeks out from when you want to fly.
17. Learn the language
English is widely used in most countries these days and if you are reading this article I will assume that you know it. There are still many countries however where you won't see or hear English anywhere so it might be a good idea to look over a few survival phrases before going. DuoLingo is a great app for learning languages and Google Translate can get you out of a jam if you need a real-time translation.
18. Do you have Wifi?
Once overseas, searching for Wifi can be a pain and using your phone while roaming can get expensive. Purchasing a cheap burner phone and buying sim cards when you travel works but keeping track of sim cards when constantly changing countries can get confusing. If you only need wifi and don't care about a phone service, you could also look into renting a wifi egg for the duration of your trip.
I personally have a Google phone with Project Fi which gives me coverage in almost every country in the world. If you plan on streaming lots of movies and music, the data plan can get a bit expensive but for everyday messaging it is rather reasonable. I never worry about roaming costs or being stranded without a signal so it gets rid of a lot of communication-related stress.
19. Pack your bags
Packing can be an art as no two suitcases will be packed the same. For those moving permanently to one country overseas, only pack things you will need right away and slow boat everything else over to save money. If you are going to be backpacking all around Asia, remember function over style and backpack over bulky suitcase. I personally change countries every couple months and find that one suitcase full of necessities works perfectly for me. If you want to know exactly what I pack, have a look in my suitcase here.
20. Say goodbye
Last but not least, don't forget to say goodbye to everyone before you leave. It may sound like common sense but after going overseas you might not know when you will be back again. And chances are when you go back home you will have changed so much that relationships with those who were once close might also change.
That was a lot to prepare but now you are ready to go out and take on the world! I will most likely write on each of these items in more detail in the future but this should be a good guideline to follow.