Leaving home for the first time is something that you can’t really train for. Every person’s experience of the big bad world is completely different.
For a bit of extra fun, I decided to make my first move out of home to a completely different country, culture, economy and temperature. The process of planning for the foreseeable future is almost as exciting as the journey itself will be. But there are so many things to consider, a myriad of tasks to overlook and a long list of things that you forgot to add to your long list of things.
With the amount of things I had never considered I thought it would be a good idea to compile a list for myself and others before (or after) they start their journey. Ideally I will edit this list as I get closer and closer to my trip, and more than likely come back to it once I realise a major flaw in my planning post-move.
1. Making Lists Is A Great Way To Track Progress
It is easy for me to run out of space on my fridge door as I add yet another list to it, searching desperately for a spare magnet. But without my lists, whether they’re typed up or scratched onto a napkin, I would not have made it this far in. Budget checklists have been the most useful to me throughout the gauging stage and all of the various stages of planning. My original checklist consisted of my current debts, the cost of visa applications, a new passport and various other administrative requirements. Each fortnight as my pay came in I would be able to check another thing off the list and it resulted in instant gratification and an increase in motivation. Each time I crossed an item, payment or milestone off the list I knew I was one step closer to the rest of my life.
2. You Don’t Have To Give Up Your Phone Number!
Having worked in a telecommunications store for the best part of the last year I have seen several young adventurers completely cancel their phone plan/number before they go. There are several options to maintain your local phone number as you travel for years at a time. Most major providers will offer some variety of prepaid ‘long expiry’ options where you pay an upfront fee to keep your number active for up to 12 months. In 12 months time, you can either contact a family member to recharge for you or recharge online to give you another 12 months. These plans are designed with the elderly or minimal users in mind but can be perfect for the sporadic traveller! Once you come back simply put your number back on a plan or a more suitable prepaid option as you prepare for your next escape.
3. People Who Don’t Know You Very Well Are Much Happier For You Than Those Who Do
This is probably subjective, and maybe I’ve put too much thought into it. But it goes without saying that a stranger is more likely to wish you well than a friend or family member who will miss you dearly. Uprooting your life, leaving your social circles and waving goodbye to your family may well be the hardest part of the journey. But a friendly “good luck” from a stranger can be just the pump you need to get you through the emotional toll. Despite their best efforts, your inner circle is going to have to let you fly. Whether their queries or “discouragements” seem like a blow at the time, it is worth remembering that they were with you at the start and they’ll most likely be where you left them at the end.
4. Life And Travel Are Fluid, Nothing Is Set In Stone
Loose plans are better than no plans, but having no plans is okay too. For many travellers, their longing for adventure is what sets them apart from the rest of the pack. And it is this desire for apparent instability and spontaneity that makes solid planning so tough. I came to realise a couple of weeks ago that there will come a point in time where I am standing with my belongings and my savings and not a single thing holding me back. I am overwhelmed at the thought of that, it is somewhat daunting. People talk about having the world at their feet, but it couldn’t be more true than when you decide to travel. Don’t be worried if you can’t decide on a particular city, or even a particular country! Go there, explore, immerse yourself in the culture and the beauty of a foreign land. Whether you stay for a day, a week or the rest of your life you are a richer person for it.
5. Travel Insurance Is Extremely Important
Travel insurance was something that I completely overlooked when I planned to move overseas. It wasn’t on my budget lists, I hadn’t looked into it and I most certainly was not aware of the upfront costs involved. I’m moving overseas, not technically travelling so why would I need travel insurance? As an Australian citizen, I have reaped a lifetime of public health care benefits. But other countries, including popular tourist destinations do not have such a ‘luxury’. When I found out that I needed a full 2 years insurance to gain entry on my Canadian working visa I was extremely disheartened. It was $2000 that I didn’t think I needed to spend and it was going to have to come straight out of my fun money. I began to query friends and strangers on what experiences they had with insurance, Canadian in particular and was unable to get a clear response. For some, they arrived at the border without the 2 years insurance and were admitted entry no questions asked. However, horror stories float around of 6 month visas being granted or people being flat out turned around. It was not until a friend of mine told me she broke her neck skiing and had her travel insurance completely cover everything that I went online and booked immediately. Her insurance paid for $12,000 of hospital bills, a return flight for her mother, a business class flight for her and any losses as a result of her accident. Her trip was cut short but had she been without insurance she may have been plunged into a hole of debt that would be very difficult to recover from. If you are reading this I cannot stress enough how important I think it is to have a good travel insurance policy. I have taken the opportunity to list some options below to help with deciding, but make sure to read the PDS and the full policy guide before choosing an insurer. Please not this is not a sponsored post or an endorsement for any of these providers.
http://www.comparethemarket.com.au (For multiple coverage comparisons).
6. Document Folders/Wallets Are Your New Best Friend
I have never had so much paperwork to keep track of in my life! I have passports, copies, visas, immigration documents, resumes, police checks, traffic history reports, receipts, travel cards, journals, notes and everything else you could think of. So I have purchased multiple sleeve folders to store all of these documents in. Related documents can be kept in one sleeve or back to back for ease of access. I then have a second folder with copies of each document in the event that I lose the originals. These obviously need to be kept in separate bags / locations for this to have any effect in that situation. Staying organised is probably the most important part of planning any sort of travel, as things can get messy very quickly and very easily. Always know where the document you may need is and at one stage of your journey you may be required to produce it. Being an efficient, prepared traveller can definitely pay off in the long run, or even in the short run when needing to charm an official or rush through a check before your connection.
7. No Amount Of Preparation Is Ever Enough
I have been preparing to move/travel for more than a year as of this writing. I still have a little while before my departure but it is a long process. Obviously every journey is worth it in the end but the more you put in, the more you get out. Even though I have explored the intricacies of every document I’ve filled out, poured over my itinerary and sent countless emails to confirm things there is always going to be oversights. I can guarantee that something will go wrong, maybe even multiple things. But the best advice anybody can give on this is ‘roll with the punches’. Because as every traveller knows, some things are completely out of our control.
I hope that this list as it is refined and expanded can help everyone who has ever considered making an overseas move or even just their first time out of home domestically! Maybe you’re reading this list on your final night before departure unable to sleep and needing confirmation that you’re making a good decision. Or maybe you’re barely old enough to travel and compiling your very first thoughts on the subject. Either way, if this list has made you consider something you haven’t before then my job here is done. I am very open to contact and suggestions on this list and my blog in general. Enjoy the planet.