“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” — Sir Richard Burton
As my boyfriend and I planned our big trip to Australia we turned to our good friend Colm, the well-travelled one of the group, for advice on important things to know when making the move to a foreign land. Colm has lived in America, New Zealand and has recently jetted off to Canada to explore what that has to offer, he’s the free spirited type who takes life by the horns and ends up with a lot of cool stories because of his nomadic nature. Before we let Colm leave us for another however many years we pinned him down at the pub and, pint in hand, quizzed him hard about what you need to know when moving abroad. I have decided to write a post with all of his advice squished into it because I think the travellers of the world will appreciate what Colm the globe trotter had to say.
1. Sort a bank account out before you get there
Do this first! You want to be earning as soon as you can when you move to your new city, so set up an account as soon as you get there so you can earn that dollar sooner.
2. When you start to convert the price of things to the Great British Pound, STOP!
Let’s face it, this is something we all do but STOP — it’s utterly pointless, everything is relative. I was a sucker for this when the States was my home for the summer. Every single time I went to Walmart converting the price of things to pounds just made me begrudge buying them. The killer for me was aerosol deodorant, it costs three times as much in the States than it does in the UK! It’s important to remember that it makes no difference how much it costs in England, you’re not gonna go home and buy it are you? You’ve just gotta suck it up, buy it, shake the pound off the brain and enjoy the sweet scent and lack of sweat.
3. Get a driving licence
If you can, get a driving licence for the country you’re living in. It might surprise you but a lot of the time you don’t need to take a test and it’s really easy to get your hands on one. Having a licence as ID instead of your passport on a messy night out is way safer — the risk of losing your passport is just too much to handle. Plus, you often get questioned with foreign ID. Mix in with the locals and get a licence that’ll cause you no trouble when hitting the bars. Gotta give it to Colm too, it is pretty cool to whack out a foreign driving licence at home over a pint!
4. Think about getting a car
If you’re planning on staying in your country of choice for a while, it might be a good idea to get a car. This will make your life easier and you can always sell it when you leave so it’s not really too expensive to have the luxury. Oh, and don’t go for the cheapest of the cheap. Colm ended up spending a ton more money on constantly fixing a banger than he would have if he had just bought a more sturdy motor in the first place.
5. Get in amongst it
Make sure you make the most of the community you are living in and meet the locals, these are the people who you will learn the most from. A great way to do this is by volunteering — go and offer to help with something you’re interested in. For example, Colm is the techiest guy on the planet so he helped out with the sound and lighting at his local theatre group. He says he made so many amazing friends by just throwing himself into it and getting out into the community.
6. Set up a TransferWise account
TransferWise is such an easy way of sending and receiving money internationally. I’ve checked out the website and it’s really user friendly, too. Colm has had zero problems with it and he’s been gallivanting for years now. His occasional surprises from his Ma and Pa back in England have always been received!
7. Get excited!
Don’t ever feel like you’re going on and on about your trip or feel bad about people saying “I’m so jealous, I’d love to do that” because odds are they can do it, they have just made the choice not to! Go, enjoy and tell everyone all about it!
I hope these 7 points help you travellers out there when making this leap of faith. Good luck on your big adventure and always remember what my 84 year old Great Aunty Sylvia tells me, “it’ll all be alright in the end and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end yet”.