Congratulations! You’ve gotten that perfect job in another country, you’ve decided to study a foreign language in the region where it’s spoken or maybe you’re just finally satisfying your desire to see more of the world. Whatever the reason, you’re moving abroad.
It’s a dream come true. Don’t let it become a nightmare because you haven’t planned enough. To help you get ready, here are a few things you should know before moving abroad.
- Get your travel documents in order. This will usually include a passport. Depending on your destination and your purpose, you may also need a visa and/or work permit. Don’t put off paperwork until the last minute (or even month). If there are problems with your documentation, such as a name being misspelled, get the issue corrected before travel begins. United States citizens can start the process for getting a passport here and the process for getting a visa here.
- Know which travel immunizations to get. The CDC has a handy guide that lets you select your destination, your purpose and any other pertinent facts in order to see the required vaccinations. For example, if you and your children are going to Thailand for an extended stay, you need protection against hepatitis A and typhoid, and you may also want protection against hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, rabies and yellow fever.
- Plan for your pets. Many countries have very strict restrictions on animals entering the country, often including health certificates, vaccines and sometimes lengthy quarantines. If you plan to move your pet with you, you need to research the requirements well in advance. You may want to enlist the help of a pet moving company, such as Happy Tails Travel or the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association.
- Learn the language. Maybe you’re planning to learn the language when you get there, but you should memorize a few key phrases before arriving. And unless the primary language is English, don’t assume everyone will speak it. Buy a phrase book and start practicing.
- Learn about cultural practices and taboos. Don’t risk embarrassing yourself of giving offence. Research local customs, especially those related to food, clothes, religion, personal space and gestures. The “thumbs up” signal, for example, is considered very rude in some countries.
- Identify current threats. You can check for travel warnings here. The U.S. Department of State has a list of international scams. You’ll also need to research your destination to see if it’s common, for example, for taxi driver to rip off foreigners. Beware of mugger who like to target foreigners.
- Know the exchange rate. If you don’t, some less than honest people might try to take advantage of you. Even if that doesn’t happen, you need this information so you can plan your finances. Check current exchange rates with the XE Currency Converter.
- Insure your belongings while in transit and in storage. Even if you have homeowners or renters insurance, it’s best to get a separate international moving insurance policy, specially designed to cover your valuables while they’re in transition. Learn more and get a quote here.