Moving internationally can be one of the most exciting—albeit daunting—experiences you’ll ever have! In today’s mobile world, relocating across borders is pretty standard for jobs, school, and personal fulfillment. If you’re finding yourself on the verge of an international move, you probably have a plenty of concerns and questions. I know the feeling! I recently completed my most recent international move, and I have plenty of tips for first-time movers. Here are some things I learned along the way.
1 Start Early
If you know you’re going to be making an international move, don’t wait until the last minute to start planning. No matter how much time you have before the big day, start planning right away. Earlier plans means cheaper tickets, less stress, and more time to enjoy your last days wherever you are. If you still have several months, start by getting rid of items you can’t take. Whether you are loading up your car or taking a plane to your new home, you won’t have a ton of space, and you won’t want to cart around a lot of extra stuff.
2 Plan Ahead
Make sure you make a plan for your move. What day will you leave? What do you need to do before then? Who is going to pick you up from the airport? Where will you live when you get there? Know the answers to these questions, or at least keep them in mind as you get closer to the moving date. Personally, I find making lists very helpful. It’s always a good idea to write things down and keep track of your progress so you’re not running around trying to tie up loose ends the morning before you leave (been there, done that).
3 Get a Deal on Tickets
Moving is expensive. Our last international move cost us about a thousand dollars, and that’s on the cheap end of things! Don’t make your move more expensive than it has to be by buying expensive airfare. Buy your tickets early, and shop around before you commit. Also, keep in mind that the worst seats aren’t always the cheapest. My friend once flew business class and paid less than he would have if he had flown coach. A first-class ticket with two free bags up to 70 pounds might be cheaper than a coach ticket with three 50-pound bags. Run the numbers and see if you can save. Plus, doesn’t de-stressing in first class with a glass of complementary wine sound nice?
4 Plan Your Layovers Right
I once had an international move with a layover that was too short. An extra 15 minutes in a long customs line ended up causing us to wait 12 hours overnight in the airport! Learn from my experience, and don’t repeat it. Make sure your layover is long enough to get you through customs or to the next terminal, especially if you have to claim something on your customs form.
5 Get Through Customs and Security Easily
Speaking of customs, do your best to get through the line quickly. Mobile Passport Control is an awesome new app that allows you to fill out your customs form while your plane is taxiing to the terminal. It takes about 30 seconds to complete. Just be sure to register and upload a photo before you go. By the way, this app only works if you have nothing to claim. To get through security, you can sign up for TSA Pre Check or another comparable program.
6 Don’t Bring Stuff You Don’t Need
Most people moving internationally for the first time wonder what they should bring and what they should leave. Depending on where you are going, you probably don’t really need anything other than your documents, personal electronics, and a change of clothes. However, it’s always good to take things like photos, favorite books, and useful things you’ll need as soon as you land. Find out what is available in your new country and what will be hard to replace, and pack accordingly.
7 Don’t Have Overweight Bags
This one is easy: weigh your bags before you go. Unless you want to pay overweight bag fees, throw stuff away, or put on extra layers of clothes, you should be careful to keep your bags under the required weight. Put all your heavy stuff in your carry on bag and the light stuff in your suitcases.
8 Tie Up Loose Ends
Pay your last month of rent, say goodbye to friends, and notify your bank that you’re moving. Don’t leave loose ends for others to clean up after you are gone or forget things that might cause yourself headaches later.
9 Keep Valuables Safe
It can be hard to keep track of everything while you’re dragging all your worldly possessions through the airport, but one thing that should be at the forefront of your mind is your passport and wallet. Keep your valuables in a safe place, and know where they are. A passport holder that goes around your neck and under your shirt is a good option.
10 Pack Snacks
Delays, bad airline food, and long layovers happen. Pack some snacks to hold you over so you don’t have to spend tons of money on airport food or go hungry.
11 Keep a Good Attitude
This is possibly the most important advice of all! Moving internationally can be extremely miserable or super exciting. Make it an adventure and have fun! After all, your attitude shapes your experiences.
Planning to relocate overseas? Follow these tips for making an international move from an experienced expat who knows the pitfalls to have the best moving experience possible.