Oh how I wish I'd prepared better when I packed up and left for Asia last January. Alas, at least now I can help someone else. Here are some things I wish I knew before I set off on my "work and travel" adventure.
Where should I go?
Pretty good place to start. When choosing your new location take into account things such as the cost of living, the community, the safety and cultural norms in the country, wifi speeds as well as visa requirements for the country.
I still have so much stuff sitting in my parent's house.
I wish I sold all my stuff before I left. Minimalism is cool now, didn't you know? I realised how much stuff I had accumulated when I was carrying everything on my back. Seriously, who needs 4 pairs of shoes?
Go to a car boot sale, flog your stuff at a flea market or put your things up on eBay. You could also donate to charity shops or finally give your sister that hoodie she's always wanted.
If you are looking to travel light, I would recommend getting a Osprey 46 backpack which you can use as "carry-on" baggage. It's a bit of an investment at $140, but think of all the money you will save by not paying for checked on baggage.
More than 50% of my friends have lost their bank cards in Indonesia.
I don't know what it is, but everyone seems to lose their bank cards in Indonesia. Maybe it's because you have to press eject to get your card back from the ATM, and people forget. Or maybe we're all just idiots. Bank cards can take forever to reach your new country and each day without money is harder than the previous one. Get a spare bank card from your bank. It's handy to keep some money in USD in case you lose your card and need to exchange it for local currency. You can also use USD to pay for visas.
The banking service Revolut has saved my ass a couple of times. Revolut is an app where you can transfer money to other people on the app instantaneously. I also got a physical card. You can take up to €200 (or the equivalent in the local currency) out of foreign ATMs without withdrawal fees. They offer the interbank exchange rate which means you don't get ripped off no matter how many currencies you're spending.
If you haven't already set up online banking, do it now. You will need it.
Leave a travel note with your bank and let them know which countries you will be travelling to. If you forget to do this, your bank may notice unusual activity on your account and block your card.
Cancel all the direct deposits coming from your account that you won't need anymore. These could be rent, car insurance, gym memberships etc... Think of all the money you save!
You don't want to ring home and ask your younger brother for money.
Have a money safety net of about $1000. This may take a while to save up but will give you peace of mind while travelling. This should be used for emergencies only such as hospital bills, expenses your insurance will cover later and emergency flights. Keep this safety net in a separate bank account so you're not tempted to spend it.
Nobody sends texts anymore... except companies.
Paypal. Whatsapp. Uber. Online Banking. They all like to text me.
If only I was as popular with my friends.
Whenever you register for an app, the company always wants to verify your phone number. So they will send you a verification text with a pin.
I used to always ask my mum or dad to put my sim card into their phone and send me the verification pin. That only lasted so long.
Now I use a dual sim phone so I can use my Irish and my Local Sim Card at the same time. If you don't want to buy a dual sim phone, get a cheap phone for as little as €20. Alternatively you can keep your original sim card taped to the inside of your phone case so its easy to swap it when you need to.
My bags were delayed in Japan. My insurance paid for my new clothes.
My travel insurance costs less than my health insurance at home does. Travel insurance includes medical bills, dental appointments, cover for missed flights, delayed baggage and so many other things. It offers so much peace of mind for the small price of €300 for 9 months. For me anyway.
I got Travel Insurance from World Nomads and they are great. My baggage got delayed for three days in Tokyo airport and they reimbursed me for all the necessities I had to buy during this time. No hassle. No fuss. Just upload the receipts and proof of the incident and two weeks later.. voilá!
Planes, trains and motorbikes.
If you want to drive abroad you should get an international driving license. They are very cheap and range from about $10 to $20 for a license depending on where you are from.
Make sure if you want to drive a motorbike in Asia, that you have an international bike license. Many people drive motorbikes in Asia without a license but doing so means you may be fined by the local police. Not to mention that if you get into an accident and you don't have the appropriate license you will not be covered by your insurance.
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