If you’re reading this, then the chances are that you’ve at least thought about traveling or moving to another country.
For first-timers, this is no small undertaking. Many travel articles you read online advise you to throw caution to the wind and leap blissfully into the unknown, but it isn’t always that simple.
You have to approach travel from two perspectives – micro and macro. The micro-details are the smaller, interchangeable items like food, lodging, tours, and transportation. Macro details represent the bigger picture, and that’s the focus of this article.
Moving to and/or visiting another country is a big deal, and there are numerous factors that will impact the success or failure of your move.
Visiting Another Country
Always research the political climate of your destination country. Political unrest can evolve quite rapidly, so you need to stay abreast of conditions in the country at all times.
The easiest way to stay informed while traveling abroad is by registering your trip with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP affords you the following benefits:
- Receive updates from the local Embassy regarding safety conditions in your destination country
- The Embassy will contact you in case of any emergency (natural disasters, terrorism, etc.)
- It’s easier for your friends and family to find you if there are any emergencies.
It’s also advisable to follow the State Department’s Twitter account while you’re abroad.
It seems obvious, but many people neglect to find answers to the most basic medical questions before embarking on a trip.
What is the quality of healthcare in the country?
How much is a trip to the ER or to see a private doctor?
Do you need insurance? If so, how do you attain it?
Is there a decent hospital near where you’ll be staying?
How much does standard medicine (ex: Aspirin) cost?
No one plans on getting hurt while traveling, but accidents happen. There’s no sense in compounding a bad situation with a lack of preparedness.
Having an American passport or a passport from an EU country is great, but they’re not golden tickets. You should still check the visa requirements of your destination country.
Travisa has a great tool that you can use to check visa requirements before traveling abroad.
You only need to enter your destination, country of citizenship, and the purpose of your visit. The tool will return “required” or “not required” at the bottom. It will also provide a direct link to the country’s visa requirements.
You can also use the tool right here:
Mother Nature is the great equalizer with most things in life. Weather can be unpredictable, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't check the forecast.
Regardless of the duration of your trip, you should watch the weather. How else will you know what types of clothes to pack?
Accuweather is a reliable resource for checking world weather reports. You can check by the minute, or you can get extended forecasts up to one month in advance.
Verify whether or not your prescription is legal in that country. Many countries have banned medication that is common and legal in the United States and the UK.
This heightened level of awareness stems from the Laura Palmer saga that unfolded in Egypt in 2017. You can click the link to read the story, but the summary is she brought painkillers with her to Egypt and spent 14 months in jail as a result of her negligence. She initially faced up to 25 years in prison.
You can view a list of countries and their banned prescriptions here.
It's hard to find a comprehensive list of countries and their banned prescriptions, so you're better off doing a Google search specific to your medication and your destination country. You can also ask the local Embassy or the State Department.
To be safe, ask your doctor to provide you with a certificate or documentation detailing the reason you have/need the medicine before traveling abroad.
Moving to Another Country
Until now, each factor has applied to people visiting and moving abroad, but from this point forward, I'll address issues that pertain solely to people moving abroad.
In addition to obtaining a visa, you need to research the long-term viability of your skillset in that country's job market.
- Is there a demand for your skills or services?
- Do you need permits? If so, how can you obtain them?
- Can you legally open your own business?
- Are you willing to change careers to stay in that country if you need to?
These are all important questions whose answers will decide your future, or lack thereof, in your destination country.
Cost of Living:
Hopefully, you already have a source of income in place before moving to another country.
If you're going to live overseas, you'd better be sure that you can survive financially, because you're usually on your own. Examine some typical cost of living expenses such as:
- How much does it cost to rent an apartment?
- Are you legally allowed to purchase a property?
- How much does a typical meal cost if you're going to eat out?
- How much are standard grocery items such as milk, eggs, cheese, bread, etc.?
- Do you have to pay taxes?
- How much money will you need to survive every month?
- Are you going to make enough money to pay your bills and save money?
Decide the type of lifestyle you want to live and formulate a budget based on your expected expenses.
Does your destination country offer residency to foreigners?
If not, you will never have complete access to government services and other benefits offered by that country. You'll also have to maintain your visa perpetually.
If you can become a resident, what is the process? Every country that offers residency has different requirements, and if you miss a step along the way, you could potentially restart the clock on your residency.
Do you want to become a citizen?
Some countries require you to renounce your original citizenship to be granted citizenship. Perhaps your destination country allows for dual-citizenship.
Would you be willing to renounce your citizenship to fully integrate into society? If so, what are the costs associated with that?
The United States currently has the world's highest renunciation fees at over $2,300.
Movehub has an excellent article on dual-citizenship and renouncing citizenship. You should check it out.
The Bottom Line
Whether you're simply visiting another country, or you're planning on moving there, you have many factors to consider when traveling abroad. Regardless of if you're visiting or moving, try to be organized before traveling abroad.
Is there anything that you think should be added to the list? Let us know in the comment section below.