It’s 4 am. You are tossing and turning in your bed. You can't sleep, as the departure that will change your life is almost here. And in the taxi to the airport, you check ten times to make sure you've brought your passport. By the way, where's your phone charger? Take a deep breath and follow our tips for a stress-free preparation and departure!
When moving abroad, planning ahead is your friend. Before thinking about what you are going to put in your suitcase, you need to think about all the administrative procedures you need to take care of. Several documents that you may be asked for in the context of a visa application must be obtained in advance. This includes, for example, your criminal record, birth certificate, and driving record, but also copies of transcripts, etc. If you would like to send furniture or a car to your host country, you should also make arrangements in advance.
Renew your passport: the first thing to do, even before applying for a visa, is to check the expiry date of your passport. Many countries require that the passport of foreign nationals applying for a visa be valid for at least six months. If your passport is due to expire soon, it is best to renew it.
Notify your departure: if you are leaving the country, you must notify some organisations of your departure. This applies, for example, to health insurance, your private insurance company, and the tax authorities. Of course, don't forget to cancel your subscriptions: electricity, internet, gym, newspapers and magazines, etc. Online subscriptions such as Netflix and Spotify can be used abroad. You can also apply to the post office for mail redirection, so that your mail can be delivered to a relative in your absence.
Make an appointment with your bank: an appointment with your bank is essential to find out whether you can continue to use your account abroad without being charged expensive fees. If you plan to keep your credit card, tell your bank that you will be using it abroad. If you don't, it could be blocked for suspicious use. Also check its expiry date. Once you are abroad, it will be more complicated to get a new card.
Register with your embassy: some embassies give you the opportunity to register online. This way, your consulate or embassy in your host country will be able to contact you if there are any problems, and you may benefit from reduced rates for certain administrative procedures. In some cases, you may also be automatically registered on the consular electoral roll, allowing you to vote from your country of expatriation.
International driving licence: the requirements for an international driving licence vary from country to country. Some countries accept your national licence, for example, but not necessarily for the entire duration of your stay. Find out in advance how long it takes to obtain one, as it can take quite some time.
Send furniture: if you want to have furniture sent to your new address abroad, plan ahead. This will allow you to compare the various offers available, and also to receive your belongings shortly after your arrival.
Make an appointment with a doctor: before leaving, making an appointment allows you to get a prescription and leave with a supply of medication and treatments—if you have a particular illness or use the contraceptive pill, for example. If you're going to a tropical country, it's best to make an appointment at a specialist clinic to get personalised advice and update your vaccinations. A trip to the dentist is also a good idea.
Take out insurance: when you're young, you may be tempted to go without insurance to save money. This is a bad idea, because if you get sick or injured and need to be repatriated, the bill will be very high. The best solution is to take out health insurance that includes repatriation, illness, and hospitalisation coverage, especially in countries with high healthcare costs such as the USA or Canada. You can also add on some additional options, such as pregnancy or dental expenses.
Glasses and contact lenses: a second pair of glasses or a large stock of contact lenses will be very useful if you are going abroad for a while.
Cabin luggage: your papers should be placed in your hand luggage in the cabin, rather than in your checked luggage. You may be asked for them on arrival in your destination country. Don't forget to take a pen, which is very useful when filling in forms on the plane. You can also scan your important documents and save them on your phone. In the cabin, you should also take your phone, a charger, your credit card and, if possible, your valuables. Finally, if you have any space left, it's a good idea to take a change of clothes, so that you can change during the journey if necessary and have something to change into if your suitcase is lost. Earplugs, headphones, a scarf and a neck rest are small, space-saving items that will make your journey a little more comfortable.
Checked luggage: liquids, creams and pastes in containers larger than 100 ml should be checked, as should sharp objects such as razors. If you plan to take food with you, check with the authorities in your host country to see what food is allowed. In general, anything vacuum-packed is fine, as are sweets and cookies, but some countries do not allow, for example, meat products, fruit and other fresh produce. You should also be aware that checked luggage can be handled roughly during the journey. If you are taking fragile items with you, remember to pack them well. To prevent theft, you can put a lock on your suitcase, but also have your luggage wrapped at the airport.
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