The chance to embark on a new journey with a new culture and customs is something many of us dream about. Moving abroad is always life-changing, it’s an exciting chapter in anyone’s life. Whether it’s short-term for a volunteering project, a long term like a two year working holiday, moving abroad has so many benefits that it’s no wonder more and more people are taking up the opportunity.
But the real question is, where do you start? I’ve been lucky enough to have moved abroad several times to some great places like Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong on working holiday visas. Other times I have been volunteering in Thailand and Mexico. I know first hand that it takes some setting up before, during, and after the move to get properly settled and organised. If you’ve made the decision to move abroad, here are my hard learned tips to make it go as smooth as possible.
1. Before You Go Look At The Destination Possibilities
First thing’s first, where do you want to move to? Do you want to get a Working Holiday Visa so you can work and travel legally in a new country? For this you need to check where you’re able to go. I’m British so the main countries I looked at were Australia, New Zealand and Canada, but they’re not the only ones up for grabs. Each nationality will have different options available to them based on the visa deals they have with other countries. Just recently I’ve chosen to continue my travels by working in Hong Kong! Different visas have different types of availability. Some are very limited and it’s important to get ready to apply as soon as you’ve made a decision - you don’t want to miss out! If you want to volunteer, teach overseas or intern abroad, then you’ll have a lot more options. Does the destination you’ve picked suit your wants or needs? For example, if you’re an animal lover, Thailand is a great place to volunteer, you can teach or work at ethical wildlife organisations such as at Elephant Sanctuaries.
2. Pick A Program That Is Right For You
You have to find what is right for you, there’s no point copying someone else's travel dreams. Do you want to base yourself somewhere, earn some money and go travel to nearby destinations? Or, do you want to enhance your CV with a volunteering project? Don’t go with the crowd, this is your experience and your choice. If you just like the look of a country and want to have some fun, why not! I chose Australia because I had many friends there, the weather is great and the minimum wage didn’t hurt either!!
3. Arranging The Visa Side Of Things
Once you’ve decided on the destination, it’s time to do the nitty gritty stuff. Arrange the visa. Choosing a company like The Global Work & Travel Co. is a fantastic option. Not only do you get more information and ideas from speaking to the team, following the social accounts and reading awesome blogs, companies like Global can either arrange or help you out with a lot of your travel requirements like visas, job opps, airfares, travel insurance and more!
Alternatively, you can do things yourself and apply direct but this is down to you to arrange, manage and follow up. You’ll have to research everything first hand and choose the best option for you.
4. Book Your Flights In Advance
Rule 101, book your flights in advance for whatever the trip is! This will save you some money first of all and secondly, the countdown begins once you’re booked in! You can tell your friends and family about what’s happening and give yourself plenty of time to prepare for your upcoming adventure!
5. Make Sure You’ll Have The Funds
Whether it’s working that second job or saving your butt off for your adventure, having the funds is obviously essential to your trip. Some countries may even require you to show proof of your funds before letting you pass through customs/immigration. No-one wants you to cut short your trip because you didn’t save well; the only person who loses out is you! Plus, when you arrive in a new country, surely you’ll want some money so you can experience what the country has to offer!
6. Take Out Travel Insurance
This is a no-brainer, travel insurance is imperative when you travel abroad! You’ll need it to cover your travel and medical expenses just in case something goes wrong – it’s fairly rare that you’ll need to claim, but you never know what problems street food vendors might cause you and there's always the off chance you'll crash a moped. Be a responsible traveller and take out adequate insurance, it’ll give you and your family peace of mind. Now all you have to do is look forward to your trip!
7. Start Networking Online
This is a big one for me. I began networking months in advance before I first made my backpacking trip to Southeast Asia, all the way back in 2012. I found out amazing information by networking with people via travel forums; back then it was Lonely Planet! Nowadays, Facebook groups are great to chat with like-minded travellers. I’ve still got friends to this day I see, even after first networking with them before my travels! Plus, networking gives you the extra real-life information you might seek and a few new international friends to meet when you arrive!
Related: How to make new friends abroad
8. Pack What You Need
If you’re going to volunteer in a wildlife conservation park, there’s no need to pack your suits! Packing what you need for your trip is essential. I tend to buy things months before I’m scheduled to depart. This makes it a whole lot better than last minute panic buying. Some of the essentials could be power adapters, copies of your passport, medical kits, medication, pocket guides, language books, visa documentation etc.
9. Arrange Your Accommodation
Make sure this is done and set. Whether you’re volunteering and get accommodation for free or you’re staying in a hostel or guesthouse for a month, make sure you have the booking and confirmation ready to go. No-one wants to be stranded with their luggage after a long flight with nowhere to stay! You might look for something more permanent if you’re on a working holiday visa – but for now get something booked until you decide that. Who knows, you might fly to one city but end up working in another!
10. Whilst You’re There Arrange The Essentials
On my working holiday in New Zealand, I needed an IRD number, it’s what allows you to work. This can take several weeks to organise, and you also need a bank account with a proof of address before you can start getting paid! In Hong Kong, you need a HK ID Number and a bank account but to get this you need a letter of employment and a residential address in Hong Kong.
Different countries require different things so make sure you read up on them before you go. My advice is to arrange that as soon as you enter the country so you can start working and exploring without stressing yourself out too much.
11. Embrace And Enjoy
Although it seems more and more people are travelling, the vast majority of people in the world don’t get to do what you’re doing. And that is moving abroad! Embrace everything, be patient with new customs and take the time to learn about what’s new. This is one of the best times of your life (I can vouch for that as I’m still doing it). Everything is experience – and it’s time for you to enjoy yours! Now that you know all the ways to kick start the ultimate adventure of moving abroad, the only question left to answer is… where to next? Let us help you decide with a click of that little green button that leads to amazing places below!