Taking a few small steps to ensure your home life doesn’t unravel in your absence is generally a good idea.
Some questions to ask before you quit your job and head to the airport:
- Are you sub-leasing your apartment?
- Do you have someone to take care of your pets, or are you boarding them?
- Have you decided to stop insurance on your car, depending on the length of your absence?
- Who is getting your mail?
- How will your bills be paid and maintained? Can everything be paid electronically?
- Have you informed your employer of your plans? Have you put in your two-weeks notice?
- Are you going to turn off your refrigerator?
- And, perhaps most importantly…Have you bought your plane ticket?
It’s not so easy to just get up and exit the country, not unless you’ve worked really hard to have almost zero attachments. Let’s face it, most people have a lot of baggage, a lot of loose ends to tie up. It’s worth it to be a little anal-retentive in this step so that you have less to deal with when you’re coming back (and when you’re less willing to deal with that sort of thing!). Making a list of all the changes you made is a good way to remember all the things you need to do when you get back home.
Here are some ways to make sure your life-back-home doesn’t spontaneously combust in your absence:
Copy your documents. The first thing you absolutely must do is make copies of all your important documents. Go wild with it if you want to, copy your dog’s birth certificate if you must; just MAKE THE COPIES. Make three or four copies, even. Who cares if you have too many? It’s paper, and it takes up hardly any room in your luggage. You will NEED these copies eventually if something goes wrong abroad. STORE these copies in various, exciting locations. Keep one set in your purse or handbag; another in your luggage. The logic is that if something happens and, god forbid, you are robbed of all your belongings, having copies of your important documents, namely the passport, will expedite the hairy process considerably. It will help prove that you are who you really are, as well, which is an excellent idea if you happen to be alone in a strange country with no passport or identification.
- Helpful hint: Scan your documents and send them to your email account. If you end up losing your copies, you can reprint them by accessing them from any computer in the world!
See the Doctor. Visit your family doctor before you go. They can do a lot to help you out, and can inform you about certain medical risks that might exist in your destination country.
There might be a number of shots that you’ll need before you go, the most common being the Mumps/Measles/Rubella shots. Don’t be afraid to ask about what you’ll need for where you’re going, because your health is one of the most important pre-requisites to having a fun, safe trip. Doctors can also give you an exciting array of medications to help combat the effects of nasty traveler’s illnesses, so stock up! It doesn’t hurt to be prepared, because one nasty virus can lay you out for days. Remember to take stock of your current medications, and to make sure the scrips will last while you’re abroad. Some countries have excellent deals on medications, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find what you need.
Travel Insurance. Purchasing travel insurance is a necessity for some. There are a multitude of sites out there that let you select exactly what you want and need out of a travel insurance plan. You can protect against lost or stolen luggage, sign up for 24/7 travel assistance services, and much more. It’s a good way to protect the amount of money you’ve saved, to and to insure that it doesn’t all go down the drain in the event that something unforeseen occurs. Travel insurance isn’t for everyone though, and many travel without it.
Money Management. Figure out ways to carry your money before you leave. Purchasing a money purse that can be hidden is a good idea. Planning ways to spread out your money and credit cards is also a good idea. Questioning whether or not you actually need all those credit cards is an even better idea. Visit our section on Managing Your Money to find out more tips about how to save your dough abroad.
Distribute itineraries. While some may truly drift in the breeze, others like to have their travels clearly mapped out. Even if you don’t know all the details, passing along a general outline to your loved ones is a good idea. If you’ll be bunking up with a friend or host family at some point, make sure to pass along the address and phone number. This can be helpful in informing others of your general suspected whereabouts in the coming period of time. It helps allay the fears of parents, and will allow the authorities to locate you should you be discovered to have evaded your taxes.
Journaling. Setting up a blog or online journal is a good way to keep in contact with multiple people at once. Instead of writing painfully similar emails to everyone in your immediate family, keep everyone updated at once. It gives everyone else something to look forward to while you’re off seeing the world. And they hate you less for being abroad, also.
Find out how you’ll stay in contact. Depending on the length of your journey, you might need to figure out how to stay in contact with loved ones back home. There are many ways to do this, and some options suit some better than others. If you’ll be purchasing a cell phone in your destination country, no worries while you’re still at home. But if you’ll be Skyping or OoVooing from a personal computer, you could purchase the headset (or accompanying webcam) before you go. Don’t forget that Internet Cafe’s are a staple throughout most parts of the world, so you’ll be able to access email and other contact options on the road.
Take time to have your elements in place. Try to imagine your pending voyage and what you might possibly need. Would it be better to bring multiple memory cards for your camera, or to bring a flash drive to store everything? These are good things to think about, while you’re still in your home country and can find these things easily.