Despite the depressing title of this blog post, I’m actually very excited to be starting my adventure in the US tomorrow! That being said, the past week or so I’ve felt INCREDIBLY sad and lonely. I had to say goodbye to boyfriend, who also happens to be my best friend, and frankly, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do! I cried most the way home and the way home was a 3 and a half hour train journey (making other passengers noticeably uncomfortable – I couldn’t help it) and then some more when I got home! The following day, I said goodbye to friends I have known for up to 9 years – now, I know I’m only going for 11 months but 11 months without seeing your best friends in person is looooong. I already don’t see my bro’s as much as I’d like to, so this is gonna be hard! Shoutout to Loui, Lauren, Bethan, Ryan, Jess, Jamie & Sammie – I love you guys 🙂 I did a ‘Rachel from Friends style leaving’ and said goodbye to everyone individually with individual messages – shit got emotional. Although I didn’t say everything I would have liked to, it was a nice way to say goodbye – though I didn’t want to! I haven’t yet said goodbye to my family – I have the rest of the day with them and tomorrow morning but I’m really not looking forward to that either! I have to say bye to Molly soon too, my dog, how do I say goodbye to a dog?! 🙁 She may be the hardest one haha. There’s been a lot of crying on my part, but hopefully this adventure will be worth it! Im basically all packed and ready to go (gotta be up at 5am tomorrow, ew), just really nervous and apprehensive at the moment! Incredibly excited though and interested to see where my travels will take me… 😀
Travelling abroad (and especially moving abroad) might be more stressful than you think. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time planning and preparing everything that I need ready for when I go – this has taken months! And let me tell you, it’s expensive… I’ll outline a few important things to consider below as these are things that you really can’t ignore. I hope you find this post informative and maybe even somewhat helpful!
Flights – flights aren’t cheap, especially if you’re travelling across the world. I’m travelling from the UK to the US – while it could be even further and I could be headed to Australia, for example, a flight to somewhere in Europe would have saved me a lot of money. Fortunately, however, it’s often cheaper to book a return flight ticket (don’t ask me why, I really don’t know) meaning you’re technically saving a little bit of money as you’re getting two flights at a much cheaper price. If you’re MOVING abroad though, you may not know when you plan to return (like myself) so the return flight might not be as helpful as you’d think. Also, long ass flights aren’t fun, plain and simple – if you’re not a good flyer, definitely a big consideration! But you shouldn’t let this stop you from having a potentially awesome year too!
Extra luggage – with most airlines and airports, you’re allowed a certain amount of hand luggage and a standard suitcase. If you’re travelling or moving for a long period of time, you’ll almost definitely want to purchase extra luggage space – which is around £65 per suitcase. But you do have to carry all the extra luggage that you purchase (lofting around 3 suitcases by yourself is really difficult!) meaning people often travel with the bare minimum! If you’re someone who can’t afford to be without their luxuries then it may pose a problem. I’m personally struggling with the idea of not being able to take all my clothes, bags and shoes 😐
Hotel/accommodation transfers – when you’ve landed in your target destination, you’ll probably benefit from booking a transfer to your accommodation in advance. Taxi’s can be expensive and difficult to get if you don’t know the area so a coach or shuttle bus may be beneficial. The price of the transfer vehicle depends on the distance traveled, but it shouldn’t be too expensive at all and will almost definitely be cheaper if booked in advance.
Travel insurance – this is usually not too expensive and easy to acquire. For example, me and my boyfriend went to Copenhagen, Denmark earlier this year – travel insurance for the both of us cost £15. While many people don’t bother to get it as they don’t think they’ll need it (and often you don’t), I’d recommend that you don’t opt out because if something does go wrong, you have that to fall back on!
Health insurance – depending on where you’re travelling to, you may need to pay for health insurance. In the US, where this unfortunately isn’t free, I’m having to pay £1500 for the duration of my time over there. That’s incredibly expensive considering health care is free in the UK – but it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re studying at a university abroad, there’s often health care schemes which you will automatically be opted into/automatically billed for – this may be easier than applying by yourself. Alternatively, if you’re going abroad to work, it’s possible that your employer can offer you an insurance package or that it’s automatically a perk of the job – this is something you wanna check first!
Visa – the process of acquiring a visa is, to put it lightly, a ballache. I’m not sure if this is just the US embassy in London or the visa process for the US but the amount of phone conversations, website forms and payments that are required is actually insane. I understand why people make acquiring a visa so difficult but it truly took such a long period of time. You have to make 3 payments – a sevis payment (for the sevis number required for your visa form), an appointment schedule payment (to secure your appointment which is essentially an interview to try and get the visa) and then a final payment for the visa itself. Not cheap. Hundreds of pounds spent, just to get into the country. The type of visa you’ll get depends on the duration of your stay and whether you’re going to a different country to work, travel, study or other – so all visa’s cost a different amount. You need to make sure you’re getting the correct visa too as they will restrict you with what you can do whilst you’re over there! Do your research. And finally, you have to pass the interview to get your visa – so if you so happen to be a convicted criminal, it may be tricky!
Accommodation – the expensiveness of this obviously depends on the location. If you’re travelling to the UK and living in London, for example, well, good luck! I’ll be living in student accommodation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which in total, adds up to £4500 for the 10 month period – this is actually cheaper than my accommodation in the UK, so while I’m not overwhelmed by the price, it could be cheaper! You need to get this sorted as far in advance as possible as paperwork and money transfers can take a long time to be conducted properly. It’s also good to know where you’re located so you can do some research about your local supermarket, shopping centres, recreational centres etc.
Vaccinations – if you’re headed somewhere like South Africa, it’s obvious that you’re going to need vaccinations. You need them for a surprising amount of places – I’ve needed 3 for the US (1 of which I’ll be getting within the first week of arriving) and because I’m 20, I’ve had to pay for these (those 18 or under will typically receive free injections if required). One of them came to £70 (which surpised me). It’s best to get vaccinations while you’re young – I only needed these because I hadn’t got them already, so if you’re caught up, this shouldn’t be too much of a concern!
Life admin – before you go, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that you need to do to ensure the easiest year possible whilst you’re abroad. For example, having a check up at the dentist and opticians to ensure that any problems are sorted before you go (especially if there’s a lack of free healthcare abroad). Or going to the doctors about any problems you’ve been putting off. You mustn’t forget simple things too like maybe going to the hairdressers before hand or changing your mobile phone to access a different SIM card or even buying adapters for plug sockets – very small things but they make a big difference! It’s also good to create a packing list well in advance, so that you can keep adding to the list and ensure that you don’t forget any necessities! Oh and of course, you need to say goodbye to your loved ones! Perfect excuse for a party.
Research into your destination – it’ll be good and handy to know about the country that you’re travelling to in depth. For example, their politics and government, history, culture, geography, sports, music, tv shows – absolutely anything you think might be interesting or might help you in some way! Maybe even learning the relevant language, if you haven’t already! I personally have made a bucket list or to-do-list of the stuff I’d like to do or see whilst abroad – this can help you keep track of things and make sure you get the most out of your experience and live it up as much as possible! As a general rule of thumb, I’d say it’s best to know as much as you can about wherever you’re travelling to!
Emotional stuff – leaving your family, boyfriend/girlfriend and friends behind for a long period of time will be really hard! That’s probably one of the most difficult things about travelling – so before you go, it’s important to establish a means of communicating while you’re apart – I personally like Facebook chat and Skype! Especially since you’re gonna need to pay a LOT if you want to make phone calls and send text messages – the internet may be your best bet. If it’s not too expensive too, care packages should go down quite nicely with the recipient!
While I’m sure there are plenty of other important things to consider, these are all I can think of at the moment! 😛