I’m being called on more and more often to coach new world travellers on how to get started on a global journey! I am always glad to pay it forward!
At best, this will be one of the least exciting technical aides I have ever penned. Though, however academic, you will find joy in that if you ever plan on travelling or living abroad, this will be the most comprehensive list of things you need to do to get started that you will ever read. ~>
Bookmark this page! Just like the American Constitution, this is a living document. I will add new, relevant tips as fast as I get them!
I don’t care where you start, just start!
- Get Google Voice or some other reliable VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)
At least one month before leaving, set up a Google Voice account, for free. Then add Google Voice to your phone. From your phone, you can have a second phone number in the USA, however, that’s not why you need it.
You’ll be able to make phone calls from your laptop or computer, anywhere in the world you have internet, from the Google Voice web page. The number that appears on Caller-ID will be the second/Google Voice number you set up in the USA. You’ll also be able to send and receive text messages on that number!
This is absolutely critical, because at least one month before you leave, change every single professional and personal contact and verification number to the Google Voice number so that when you call the USA or across accounts you aren’t blocked and seen as a cheater/scam artist accessing an Ameican account from abroad.
Don’t forget to switch all of your 2-step verifications, email verifications, contact phone numbers from places that call you, to the Google voice number.
I have had to help friends go through the process of trying to access accounts and not have a valid US phone number. Most of the time it doesn’t work because of security. When it does, most reputable businesses will make you wait one month before the new phone number is seen as “valid”.
- Buy a one-year subscription to a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
Pick a VPN that has a great reputation and price. The job of a VPN is to mask your computer. It tells the internet where you are logging in from, every time you are online. Click -> What Is My IP Address. As you can see, there is a fairly accurate description of your location, no matter where you are while you are reading this.
You need a VPN for two reasons:
- Whenever you do online shopping, banking, or for some websites, the simple act of logging in, the computer tells the company and its servers where you are. If where you are when you log in does not match the country where you opened the account and logged in for the first time, it blocks you. Usually temporarily, though you will have to go through quite a few phone calls to find someone at the website’s main office who can unblock it. That’s if you can find a phone number to customer service at most major companies.
- Your bank or financial institution will almost certainly not allow you to log on from another country. If you can find the time to call and email your way through the blockade of online and offline paperwork, good luck. It is almost impossible to prove that you are who you claim to be online and in another country.
A VPN will simply tell the internet that you are logging in from any country you choose. Once installed, your VPN will let you pick from several countries all over the world to pretend that you are logging in from, every time you log in.
That means you can do business online the same way abroad as you would sitting in your living room back home.
Be certain the VPN you use has an app you can download on your phone and tablet.
A huge bonus that some, but not all VPNs offer is being able to switch the country you are in, then login to Netflix and see an entirely new set of movies! Email your VPN company before you buy to see if its a bonus they offer. Netflix does not give every country every movie, so when you log in from the UK, for instance, you will see an entirely new library. Try It!
Note: If you find a reputable company that does not offer the Netflix trick, use that company anyway.
- Scan everything!
Scan the back, front, and inside pages of every passport, visa, credit card, debit card, letter from the company you will or may be working for abroad, Social Security Card, driver’s license, travel ticket, access and any other document that is specific to you and your travel.
Upload them to a folder in your email account, give access to that account to a friend or relative that you trust.
Then create a separate folder that’s identical to the first and give access to it to someone else that you trust that doesn’t know the other person.
If anything happens to your documents, you may need them to print a copy and take it someplace in your city on your behalf so that you can have a new one mailed to you.
It’s called “redundancy”, and it has saved me from disaster more than once.
Don’t use a scanner app on your phone. Either use a friend’s scanner, a personal scanner at home or take it to a print shop and pay them. Don’t do it at work and don’t leave them with anyone else to do it for you.
- Set up a second, and preferably third money account.
I said money account because that does not necessarily mean bank. You need to have two separate accounts. Let’s assume that one is a traditional bank Account with a debit card, the others should be PayPal with a debit card, Paypal Debit Card, Bitcoin (because it can be used anywhere in the world), Bitcoin with a debit card or local ATM, or some other place that you can hold, deposit, and withdraw money easily.
Mark my words, there will be a day when your phone runs out of battery, your bank hasn’t fully processed the info you gave them on why you are spending money overseas, and you are in a place where you don’t speak the language.
If you are an adventurous traveller, that is!
When that happens, the difference between panic and calm are knowing that you have options. You can use an app like UBER or 99 Taxi, which has the main and alternate account attached to it, or simply use the alternate card to pay for what you wanted. Then you won’t be in a rush when you calmly sit down with your laptop, click on the VPN, and sort out the problems you had with your main card.
- Say hello to a nice Account Manager at your bank!
At 9 am, go to the best neighborhood in your city, dressed professionally, as if you were interviewing for the job of bank manager. Sit down and ask for an account manager, when you meet, tell them that you are travelling overseas and that you “need to be certain that it states clearly, on record, that the bank knows you are abroad and won’t freeze your account”.
The person you will be talking to does not care about you, you are simply a number to them, potentially a person they can sell something order to fill a quota. That’s OK, we all have a job to do. What you can’t do is allow yourself to believe that just because the person you spoke to assured you that they would take care of it, that they would.
Ask them to write down the number you need to call in a week to verify that the bank has taken in and processed your request on the back of their business card. Be sure the card has their name on it.
It’s important to have them write the phone number on the business card because it is irrefutable proof that you spoke. They know it and you know it. If what you said is not processed in two weeks, go back to the bank in person, with the card (that you should have scanned) and ask “What can I do to help this process move along more quickly?”
Be nice to the banker, once you have verified that the bank has it on record that you will be travelling, do the Stamp Trick and write them a letter.
- Freeze your credit.
I suggest doing this even if you aren’t leaving the country. Freezing Credit and/or placing a Security Alert on your credit info, at all three of the major companies (Experian, Equifax, & Transunion) stops anyone who has your information from being able to steal your identity.
Identity theft usually isn’t discovered until the victim needs to use credit for a loan, house, etc…
By then it’s far too late.
You will have to pull your information from all banks/credit agencies, alert them to the fraud, but you will also have to prove that you are you! This will be one of the worst nightmares you will ever have or experience. I guided several clients through this during my previous career as a financial professional. Everyone cried, often. They cried even more, and harder, once they found out that it was a close relative and/or friend that did it. most identity theft is done by someone you know and possibly love. Privately, talk to your friends and ask if they or anyone they know has gone through it.
Consider this, you are far more likely a target because everyone you are close to knows you are out of the country and most likely not checking old accounts.
- Give a friend $50.
Ask a different friend if they would be a mail-drop for you. Tell them you need to change your mailing address to his/her house so that they can mail you anything you need that comes. Replacement documents for example. The $50 is to cover the cost of mailing.
- Get a professional resume.
Hire a professional. That means that you can hire me, or someone equally qualified and experienced. This means that no, your friend who is a writer or good with words is not qualified. A resume is a specific instrument.
While abroad you will have opportunities presented to you, both where you live and in other countries. Be prepared!
- 3-6 months savings.
I don’t care if your new job advances you money or you have friends and family that will support you. Save your own money and do not depend on them! You need to calculate what you need and have 3-6 months of living expenses saved up and divided, even if unequally, among two or three of your accounts.
Having money saved means that if and when something goes wrong, you are not bound to a job that you aren’t happy with. With your resume in hand, you can spend time looking for a job in your new host country that fits you. Alternatively, you may not be what your new employer needs. They are under no obligation to keep you. You can be
let go fired at any time and without warning. Don’t be in a position that leaves you stranded and dependent on others to support you at all, ever.
- Get CE!
In my business circle, CE means Continuing Education. Most people do it for professional organizations or governmental regulations. I do it for myself because it keeps me professionally relevant and makes me more money.
Learn something that is portable and that you can do from anywhere in the world, BitCoin is an excellent example! The internet is a treasure trove of the greatest universities and business professionals teaching courses and skills that you can be certified in or at the very least apply to your business ideas.
I did an in-depth breakdown of how I broke into the Editing and Proofreading business that you can dive into, as an example of one successful method.
- Lie about dates.
If I am, hypothetically, arriving in on the first day of the month, the only people who know are my close friends and close family because the friends I have when and where I land will want to fill my arrival with fun and parties.
Parties and celebrations before securing your location is poor prioritization! Instead, I lie and tell everyone in my new city I am arriving on the seventh. It gives me a buffer to make sure I have my banking, housing, phone number, internet, and any small incidentals that aren’t hard, but important, taken care of. It will also give me a time to learn my neighborhood and relax into my surroundings.
- Passport Card!
Never walk around with your passport, I don’t care what anyone tells you, its a bad idea! Instead, get a Passport Card. Its legal ID and you can keep it in your wallet/purse with everything else and if it’s stolen it’s easy to replace.
Speaking of Passports, make sure that you renew your passport on, or before it has six months to expire! Many countries won’t allow you to have a Visa if your passport will expire soon.
- Shut The Fuck Up!
People who travel the world, or are in the process of beginning to travel enjoy sharing insights with the people they care about.
Unless they specifically and directly ask you, do not bring up your international ambitions, goals, or achievements because it will only build resentment and alienate people, friends, and family around you.
Something folks who travel loose sight of, is it takes an extraordinary amount of planning, courage, and determination to succeed in opening the world up for yourself. Very few people have what is needed to do it. An unfortunate part of the human condition is that jealousy is quite real. It’s not reserved for movies stars and the obscenely wealthy. If you are accomplishing your dream of travelling the world there will be a lot of jealousy and bitterness directed at you. Not because you are travelling the world, but because you are living your dream.
This is an unfortunate and harsh truth.
If what I wrote is interesting or you enjoyed it, send $5 in BitCoin to this address!
It’ll buy me coffee to fuel my mind while I write!
YusefWateef (at) Gmail (dot) com