After announcing that we’d be moving to Turkey to teach English for a year, we got lots of questions. The two most common were “how are you going to take all your stuff?” and “how do you even prepare for a move like that?”. Both are great questions. Here’s an attempt at answering them.
Preparing for a year abroad is not easy, but it’s also not as hard as you may think. Together we have experience relocating domestically and abroad and so, together, we came up with this list of best practices and reminders:
1. Change Your Address
Update your address with your local post office, all credit card providers, newspaper/magazine subscriptions, retirement accounts, student loans, insurance, etc. You want everyone to know how to get hold of you if necessary. Going paperless will help you stay up-to-date while away from home.
2. Notify Your Bank that You’ll Be Overseas
This will prevent your accounts from being frozen as, for most of us, using our cards overseas is not a common occurrence and will be flagged as an ‘unusual transaction’.
Ask your credit card provider/bank if there are foreign transaction fees applied to purchases made overseas (one of our credit cards charges 3% per transaction). Sometimes, it is possible for the card provider/bank to waive these fees. As my mom always says, it never hurts to ask!
3. Update or Cancel ________
If you’re not taking your cell phone with you (which we aren’t), you should cancel your cell phone service. Other things you want to consider are utilities, cable, gym memberships, internet and auto/home insurance.
4. Stay Insured While Abroad
Contact your current health insurance provider and see if you’ll be covered while abroad. If not, consider purchasing traveler’s medical insurance.
5. Assign a Power of Attorney
Although the internet makes it easier to be away from home and still get everything taken care of, it is not always convenient when you need to conduct business over the phone (long distance calls are cheaper than ever these days, but still can cost a pretty penny). Assigning the power of attorney to someone you trust to act on your behalf will help when you are unable to act either due to illness (i.e. hospitalization, coma, death) or distance (i.e., you’re not physically able to be present to sign a document, withdraw money from your bank account, etc.). The nice thing is that you can decide what authority you want to give to the person acting as your power of attorney.
6. Back Up Your Hard Drive
For some of this, this is a no brainier. For others, this is something that never crosses your mind. But if like us, you plan to take your computer/tablet with you while you travel, it’s a good idea to backup your files and leave them at home. Unfortunately, you never know what may happen while you travel.
Consider bringing an external hard drive with you so that you don’t have to delete documents or photos from your device(s) in order to free up memory. Also, consider using the power of ‘the cloud’ to store documents, photos, etc.
7. Don’t Overpack
You’re probably thinking, “Well, duh! Of course I don’t want to overpack”. And yes, this is true. But packing can be the most daunting thing about travel. I mean, what if you don’t bring the perfect outfit for the perfect occasion? Honestly, it really doesn’t matter. You’ll be surprised as how much you (we all) overpack (see a related post here).
Research airline luggage restrictions to see the size and weight limits for your suitcase(s). You should also consider the cost of taking a second piece of luggage (many carriers still allow one ‘free’ piece of luggage and then charge for each additional bag). Our airline charges $200.00 for each additional piece of luggage. Knowing this, we’re going to take one (free) piece of luggage each and then, if absolutely necessary, we’ll spend that $200.00 each purchasing things we didn’t bring one we’re in Turkey and truly missing them!
8. Make Copies of All Important Documents
Making copies of important documents (i.e., passport, driver’s license, etc.) will come in handy if you happen to lose them while traveling. We suggest you leave a copy at home with someone who has your travel itinerary, as well as bring a copy along with you.
It is best to keep originals carried on your person, but have a photocopy stored in your luggage, in case you lose the originals. Some people have scanned copies of their documents in their e-mail, on ‘the cloud’ or on their desktop. You can choose to keep a copy of the originals however you’d like, but always remember that these documents should be secure–both in real life and in cyberspace!