Going Overseas | The To Do List

Deciding to go abroad for work, school or even play is an enormous decision that requires careful planning, courage and support. Having been in the position where I have packed up my life and moved overseas five times now I can say with confidence that making the decision to go followed by organising the airfares and subsequent visas is the easy part. It is the weeks leading up to your departure when panic and anxiety sets in and you will undoubtedly find yourself questioning if you have made the right decision. Yes you have, but you have to prepare for the flurry of emotions that will come your way once your departure is set namely feeling overwhelmed as to what needs to be done.

In order to survive this hectic period you need to be organised even if it does not come naturally to you. You don’t want to be sitting on the plane or worse in your new environment suddenly remembering all the loose ends you forgot to take care of especially when some tasks cannot be rectified once abroad. In order to help you through this moment of transition I have compiled a list that I encourage you to print off and work through in the weeks leading up to your grand exit. Personally, as a lover of lists, I always print out what I need to do and hang it on my wardrobe so I am reminded each day of what errands remain. There is nothing more satisfying during this period than coming home and crossing things off the list naturally easing your stress. In order to help my brain function I compartmentalise my responsibilities and always leave extra lines to manually make additions before printing my own “to do list.”

TO DO LIST

Before anything else head to your local newsagent and purchase a folder and plastic sheets which will be used to carry necessary travel documentation. In addition, purchase stamps and envelopes in order to send any paperwork off swiftly.

Identification
• Make copies of your passport and visa to leave with a trusted person should you lose your paperwork. Hard copies should also be added to your personal travel folder
• Scan passport and visa and retain a copy on a USB stick or in your email
• Renew your driving permit before leaving as some countries have reciprocal license agreements thus will only verify your national license if hiring a car for example
• If no reciprocal agreement exists obtain an international driver’s license. Australians will find the following link of assistance http://rac.com.au/travel/international-driving-licence-b

Safety
• Input your host country’s emergency service contact details into your phone
• Keep a record of where your embassy is located and store the details (inclusive of area map) in your phone, email and make a print out for your travel folder. Provide these details to your family
• For Australians it is advisable to register your travels via www.smartraveller.gov.au. Many governments encourage or require citizens to register with their embassies or with similar programs like Smart Traveller so they can provide assistance if there is an incident that poses a threat to the safety of their citizens
• In the event you misplace your phone, store any necessary numbers in your travel folder and on a USB stick
• Amend your phone’s contact list so people who should be contacted ‘in case of emergency’ are clearly listed for those providing you with assistance e.g. Mum ICE, Evan ICE, Aunt Sarah ICE etc.
• Craft a first aid kit to store in both your main luggage (sharp items) and carry-on bag for the plane. Suggested items include: pain killers, cold and flu tablets, ice pack, plasters, insect repellent, nasal spray, bandages, tweezers, sunscreen, scissors, antibacterial wipes/spray, medical tape and any creams to soothe bites or rashes
• Acquire travel insurance and print off proof for your travel folder to make available to immigration authorities. Several working holiday visa programs and student visas require applicants to obtain mandatory travel insurance so be sure to read the fine print

Banking
• Notify your bank of your intentions to travel (this applies for both short and long term ventures). In most cases you will need to fill out documentation listing dates of travel and countries planned otherwise you will find your cards cancelled when they see unauthorised overseas activity
• Nominate someone to act on your behalf. Every bank is different but this typically requires a co-signatory to sign specific paperwork. However, in most cases this does not extend to credit card accounts as this could affect your co-signatory’s credit rating. Personally, I nominate a trusted family member who can visit the bank and make payments/deposits etc on my behalf during my absence
• Make a note of your banks contact details. Many have numbers which clients can utilise whilst overseas, that way if your cards are stolen you can quickly call your bank to cancel immediately
• Print off proof of funds. Once again some working holiday programs require applicants to show either a return ticket home or proof of funds either at the time of application or upon arrival

Contracts
• If viable cancel or place your gym membership on hold or if it is a global brand investigate if you are permitted to transfer overseas. If you are locked into a contract perhaps question if you can sell your membership to a friend of family member
• If you have private health care some providers allow to you place your contract on hold for a determined period e.g. BUPA Australia has a two year hold scheme as of January 2016
• If financially possible switch your phone from plan to prepaid. If on prepaid enquire how you can go about retaining your phone number if moving overseas for an unknown period of time as some require regular contributions to remain active

Civic Duties
• In countries, like Australia, where it is mandatory to vote you will need to decide how you would like to manage your responsibilities in your absence. Personally I find it easier to be removed from the electoral role as in my experience local elections don’t provide enough time to return a postal vote or make an online vote compared with the efficiency of a federal election. For Australians please follow this link to the Australian Electoral Commission http://aec.gov.au/

Medical

• Make an appointment with your general practioner to ensure you are in good health before leaving. Sydney based readers can find a list of providers who bulk bill via the following link but be sure to confirm prior to booking http://doctors-4u.com/sydney/sydney-bulkbill.htm
• Update any medication you need to take and ensure it isn’t out of date
• Request that your doctor issue a letter explaining why you are bringing medication into a foreign country. Always carry this documentation with you on the plane and before leaving ensure that any prescribed substances are not illegal in your new country.
• Carry a recent prescription for your glasses on your person, that way if they become lost or broken they can easily be replaced without the cost of another eye examination
• Update your vaccinations and health booklet. This is entirely dependent on where you are travelling and your doctor will be able to assist with your enquiries. Sometimes additional bloodwork will be necessary to determine natural or previously attained immunity to avoid unnecessary vaccinations
• If you are relocating long term there are some countries which require the presentation of your vaccination certificates upon arrival. Therefore, investigate what you need to carry on your person and make necessary copies

Electrical
• Purchase the relevant adaptor for use in your new host country
• Purchase an additional USB cable and charger so you have a backup ready to go if they become lost, broken or stolen

Language
• If moving or travelling to a country where you don’t speak the language or your skills simply aren’t strong, download language apps and dictionaries onto your phone, iPad or tablet
• Become familiar with useful phrases

Employment
• If you are venturing overseas on a visa that permits you to work update your resume prior to leaving. Keep a record on your USB stick and print several copies if you plan to go from shop to shop when looking for something casual
• Obtain written references for your records
• Create an interchangeable cover letter that can easily be updated to match the position you are applying for and the skills the employer seeks
• Generate a word document or excel spreadsheet that lists the name and contact details of all relevant recruitment agencies in your new city. That way upon arrival you can easily open this file and copy and paste email addresses over when you’re ready to begin looking for work
• Update your LinkedIn
• Attain copies of your educational certificates for your records

Snail mail and Bills
• If applicable decide how you wish to manage your mail in your absence. This can involve redirection to a family member, cancellation or placing mail collection on hold if you are only travelling for a short period of time http://auspost.com.au/parcels-mail/redirecting-holding-mail.html
• Not all mail can be redirected due to the costs involved, personal circumstances and final location overseas. In this case make a list of all your bills and ring the providers to notify them of your travel plans. Determine what options are available and request if you can change to online billing and notifications

Clothing
• This tip is my no means necessary but clearing out your wardrobe and selling old clothes either online or at a local market is a fantastic way to raise funds for your travel
• If you are moving overseas for a long period of time don’t waste money on purchasing items whilst at home. Instead stock up on basics like underwear, socks and hosiery and if you plan to work professionally invest a good black suit for future interviews

Social Media & Entertainment
• It might seem trivial but some devices will recognise you are logging in from overseas so think ahead and set up recovery options should you get locked out of your social media platforms. I would suggest utilising another email address in case your phone is misplaced or you unable to use it
• Download your favourite films and programs onto your necessary devices to keep you entertained whilst on the road
• Set up apps which will help you stay in contact with loved ones e.g. skype, viber and WhatsApp

Naturally, all our responsibilities are different but whatever your circumstances are I hope the above list provides a solid starting point as you prepare to travel or relocate overseas. The most important reminder is to have fun and look after yourself. Though it can be rollercoaster of emotions enjoy the ride.

Happy travels
Xo

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