Top 10 Travel Tips: 10 Lessons I Learnt From Moving Overseas
Written by Jaillan Yehia
Miranda Glasser decided to leave her London life behind and embark on a year-long stint as a teacher in Vietnam – after entering her second year as a resident of Siem Reap, Cambodia where she’s about to become a correspondent for the Phnom Penh Post. Here she shares the 10 most important lessons she learnt from her move overseas – and an open mind is at the top of that list…
1. Life’s What Happens While You’re Making Plans
Our instinct is to have everything mapped out in advance but it can be good for you to just go with the flow. After lots of research and consideration my husband and I decided that Vietnam was the perfect place for us to live & work for a year – but in fact we ended up living in Cambodia which we were really just passing through on our way to our ‘new life’ somewhere else – and one year on we’re not ready to give it up. You often find a place picks you rather than vice-versa. If somewhere unexpected is telling you it wants you for its own, make sure you’re listening.
2. If there was ever a time for a capsule wardrobe, this is it!
If like me your tendency is to panic & try and take all your worldly belongings plus half the Boots cosmetic counter on your journey, stop! Obviously it depends where you are going but remember they do have shops overseas and flip flops, vest tops, shower-gel & toothpaste do actually exist outside of the UK. Relax, you are not moving to Mars! Also make sure that the clothes you’re taking all actually work together.
3. Whatever the country, You’ll Still Want A Good Cuppa*
*insert your own cultural must-have item here if you’re not British/a tea addict!
The truth is it helps to take a few indulgences to make you feel at home when you arrive in a new place. This is probably a very British thing to say but proper tea was at the top of my list. It’s very hard to find on certain continents and you can either end up with the omnipresent Lipton Yellow Label which is basically interestingly-flavoured hot water, or if you do find decent tea it’s exorbitantly priced and never tastes quite the same. So, if there’s something you think you’ll crave and it doesn’t take up too much room, pop it in!
4. In all the excitement don’t overlook the basics
Many countries won’t let you in with less than 6 months left on your passport so it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can renew your passport if there are 9 months left before it expires and the time that’s left to run on your old passport is added to the new one so you don’t lose out. Also look into the visas you might need for the countries you plan to travel through/to. And of course don’t forget other basics like travel & health insurance.
5. Kindle your interest in reading
If there’s one thing I’d recommend splashing out on for a new life abroad it’s a Kindle. If like me you’re a keen reader you’ll soon tire of the dusty, second-hand paperbacks on offer at your local backpackers’ “2-for-1 book swap”. A Kindle means you can keep up-to-date with the latest publications and it often works out cheaper, with many books at a fraction of the bookstore price.
6. Get yourself a personal M.O.T.
Wherever you are going it’s a good idea to visit the doctor, dentist, optician and any other health practitioner you usually see and get any niggling issues sorted beforehand to ensure you’re in tip-top health before departure. I found ordering a bulk-load of contact lenses in advance to take with me was far more cost-efficient than getting them abroad and you may also find they don’t do your exact type of lens/prescription/medication where you are going. On the other hand, where I now live eye-tests are free & haircuts are a dollar so you may be in for some pleasant surprises!
7. Do Some pre-trip photo-shopping
Buying a really good camera is one investment that’s really worthwhile and which will pay you dividends for your entire trip and beyond. You’ll be grateful for it when snapping wildebeest in the Serengeti or trying to capture Angkor Wat at sunrise, and you’ll always have the perfect shots as well as the memories to look back on. You’ll need a decent laptop and software on which to process the images and having a reliable computer of your own is invaluable for staying in touch with friends back home, applying for jobs and checking out destinations too.
8. Think you can avoid making a financial checklist? Don’t bank on it!
Due to a highly complicated tax problem I found myself running around trying to find an accountant just hours before I was due to leave. Horribly stressful! A checklist will help you avoid last minute panics and keep you calm & relaxed before jetting off. In the run-up to your big move it’s easy to forget (or ignore!) the boring tasks like sorting out banking and insurance issues in favour of the more exciting jobs on your to do list but you must inform your bank that you’re moving abroad and for how long. You don’t want to be caught out when your bank puts a security block on your card – especially in those vital first few weeks when you may be securing a job/accommodation & relying on your savings.
9. Get Your Travel Vaccinations
An obvious one but check what you need for which country, and leave enough time to get your jabs – a full course can take months of pre-planning. This NHS website is a useful resource.
10. Don’t overthink it
Once you’ve made the decision to go, go! It’s all too easy to come up with excuses of why this isn’t the perfect time, or dither over whether the destination you’ve picked is the right one. You’ll find that wherever you go things have a funny way of working themselves out – you’ll find a job, make friends with like-minded people & before you know it a year will have flown by and opportunities will have come your way that you could never have predicted.
No time is ever the ‘right’ time, so seize the day, grab your stuff and GO. You won’t regret it!
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