This moment in time is quite unlike any other we have experienced, with people being encouraged to stay at home and severe restrictions on overseas travel. But despite all this you can still dream! And with people learning to take care and to protect themselves, plus the fact that economies simply have to get moving again, it will time to travel once more and you can realize that dream you’ve been having.
If you’ve made the decision to travel abroad, you’ll be very excited! But to enjoy yourself to the max while you’re away it pays to do some planning before you go. Make sure all the things you care about are safe back home and don’t inconvenience anybody. Then do as much of the important paperwork as you can before leaving the country. In this way you can save yourself both stress and money.
You’ll want to come back home to your familiar and treasured belongings, right? Well, self storage can be the best way to keep them safe while you’re gone. And are you planning to take Fido with you? If not, he’ll need a temporary home somewhere, and so will your car. Who will pick up your mail? You should get it redirected, and cancel your Time magazine subscription as well. To have all the necessary documents with you it’s smart to sort these out before you leave, plus some others which will give you added peace of mind. Finally, to make sure you’re a good citizen while you’re away, do what needs to be done so you can pay your taxes and vote!
Here we present our top 12 most important things to consider before deciding to take the plunge and travel abroad.
1) How Self Storage Can Help While You Are Abroad
You can only take so much stuff on a plane, so what about the rest of your belongings? Stashing possessions with parents or friends may seem like an easy option, but you don’t want to get an international call saying that unless you come and move them out they’ll be dumped on the street! Self storage is a great solution for storing all manner of items, units are available in a wide range of sizes, for instance the garage-sized 10×20, and climate-controlled ones are also available for delicate items. It is much cheaper than letting your belongings take up residential space — so you can choose to stop renting your apartment while you are away. You might be able to get a discount on self storage if you say you will need it for a minimum length of time, which saves you even more money.
2) ‘Mothball’ Your Car
Of course, first among all your possessions might be your car, and you may not want to part with it. To be sure it’s still in reasonable condition when you get back you should follow some tips. Wash the outside, so any deposits don’t damage the paintwork over time, and the interior so that mold doesn’t develop. The parking brake can get damaged if you leave it on, so it’s better to park on level ground and in gear. Finally, fill the car’s tank and add fuel stabilizer, put sufficient air in the tires, change the oil, and block up any holes so that bugs and rodents can’t get in. Also, if somebody is letting you leave it on their property it may turn out to be very inconvenient for them, so a good alternative is to keep it at a self storage facility, either in a designated parking place or in a garage-sized unit.
3) What to Do With Pets
You’ll certainly want to be sure your cat or dog is happy while you’re away. The ideal solution is to leave them with somebody you trust, but people have limited space and time and sometimes allergies too. Of course, you can put them in kennels or catteries, but these are expensive and they won’t get much attention there. A newer idea is to use a home boarding service to place them with another pet lover who looks after them. Or, if they can’t stand being away from home, hire a professional pet sitter to visit your place, feed them, and do whatever else is required — this may be the only option if your loved ones are tropical fish! Finally, an increasing number of travelers are taking their pets with them, but first check with the airline and your destination country’s consulate to see if your breed is accepted.
4) Pay Your Taxes
You probably want to leave all your worries behind you, but taxes are one of those certainties in life that don’t go away. And the IRS requires that you file taxes, even if you are abroad, and they can even revoke your passport or refuse to renew it if you owe more than $52,000. For this reason, it is advisable to either pay your upcoming taxes before you leave or make sure you take copies of all the documents you will need, in physical or electronic form, so you can file your return while you are out of the country. You may also need to pay taxes in the country you are visiting if the company you will be working for has permanent establishment there, so you might need to budget for that.
5) Make Sure You Have a Valid Passport
Your passport is of course a vital document as you travel the world, and you should make sure it is always valid. Firstly, it can take several months to renew a passport, and you don’t want to have to do this while you’re on the move if you can help it. It takes longer to process a passport application in the spring and summer months, and you’ll need your passport if you are applying for visas, so factor in that time as well. Also, be aware that some countries require that the passport of anybody wishing to visit is valid for at least three or six months beyond the date of entry. All in all, you should make sure you have a passport which will be valid for all the time you’ll be away — and a bit longer — so, if you need to renew it, get started with that as soon as possible before you go.
6) Get the Visas You Need
We all admire seasoned travelers’ passports with their visas and stamps from exotic locations, but they don’t appear from nowhere and some countries can be difficult to enter. Sometimes it’s possible to get a visa when you turn up at the border of a country, but don’t take this for granted. Some have to be obtained in advance — to get into China, for instance, you must have purchased a visa no less than one month previously. Obtaining a visa for Russia is notoriously complicated, and for countries like Pakistan you need a sponsor, so start the process early. On a positive note, digital nomads may be interested to hear that Estonia — a small Baltic country with a growing entrepreneurial reputation — has introduced a visa which allows you to stay there for 365 days and with 90 days in the Schengen Area as well.
7) You Might Find a Driving License Useful
Driving abroad can be both daunting and fun, and it can also be necessary at times. If you have a US driving license, you would be well advised to ensure you have the documents you need if you want to drive in the country you will be traveling to. This may mean getting an International Driving Permit, and these are obtainable through either the American Automobile Association or the National Automobile Club. When hiring or buying a car abroad — or even just borrowing a friend’s — be aware that automatics are not always as commonly found as they are in the US, and so if possible you might like to get some practice with a stick shift before you leave.
8) Always Get Heath Insurance
Health insurance is something that all ex-pats value, and the peace of mind that a good policy provides is invaluable. The hospital facilities in a foreign country may be good or they may not be, and when the time comes for needing one urgently you want to get the best treatment you can find. After getting your insurance sorted out before you leave, remember to carry with you at all times the insurance policy identity card and a copy of the claim form. Another type of policy you should also consider is medical evacuation and repatriation insurance, as it can be very expensive to fly a person home if their medical condition requires it.
9) Redirecting Correspondence
You may not be keeping the same address back home while you are away — if you stop renting your apartment, for example — and even if you do it could be inconvenient for somebody to enter those premises regularly to pick up your mail. It may also be useful to change your correspondence address if somebody more suitable for receiving and checking mail lives somewhere else altogether. You should be sure that the person receiving your mail is totally trustworthy and won’t also be changing address while you’re away. In all these scenarios, get the US Postal Service to officially forward your mail. This can be done at your local post office or online. Don’t pay a third party who claim they will change your address for you — they charge a lot and it can be a scam.
10) Cancelling Subscriptions
Anybody who doesn’t want to throw money away, especially if they will be abroad for a long time, will want to cancel some if not all of the paid subscriptions they have. This can include services that stream TV programs and other types of media and e-commerce providers, not to mention the more traditional subscriptions to newspapers and periodicals. In some cases, a subscription can be quite hard to cancel, so you should consider starting early. One thing that people often don’t cancel is their mobile phone payments — you may want to get subscribed to a local network in the country you’re traveling to, but ditching the number everyone back homes knows is probably a false economy.
11) Make Your Will Before You Go
Sorry, we have already mentioned one of the two inevitable things in life — paying taxes — and here is the other one. Flying is a safe means of transport and traveling abroad is not necessarily dangerous — unless you enter a war zone, engage in dangerous sports or don’t have the necessary health inoculations. But if you don’t have a will you can die ‘intestate’ and have no control over where your money and belongings end up. Be aware that different US states have different laws regarding inheritance, so making a will can help clear that up. It makes sense to sort all this out in the US before you go abroad, and to leave the documents safely locked up, perhaps at your family lawyer’s office. Wherever you go, always have with you the address of somebody who can be contacted, preferably your next of kin.
12) Don’t Forget to Vote!
Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat or you’re undecided, you probably care about what direction your country goes in, so you may want to be sure you can vote for your president on November 3rd, 2020. Then there are other elections, for instance the state primaries on August 11th, 2020. If you will be abroad at those times you’ll need to get absentee voting status. As overseas registration takes a little longer than usual, and you are advised to start the registration process with the Federal Voting Assistance Program as soon as possible, perhaps before you leave the country. In some parts of the world you may be reminded how good it feels to be a citizen of a democratic nation, so voting might be even more enjoyable than ever!
There are many good reasons to grab the opportunity to travel abroad, and you’ll certainly have some great stories to tell when you get back. But your travels don’t get more enjoyable if you have worries, including what’s happening to your pets, your car, your post and your money while you are gone. Then there is the boring paperwork that is much easier to get done before you go. Following the steps we have given here should minimize those concerns and help you enjoy some amazing times abroad.