An African's Guide to Moving Abroad: 17 Travel tips

You found an amazing job. Or graduate school. Maybe your friends invited you to stay with them for 3 months. You're going abroad.

  

You are excited beyond words. It feels like for once in your life you are going on vacation. Life doesn't get better than that.

Honey, enjoy that moment because that is the easy part. 

 

Whether you are going for a month or a year, moving to a foreign country can be exhausting. There is so much to take care of before the D-day.

 

But no worries...

 

Here is everything you need to know from the time you decide to move to the day you actually move.

2- 3 MONTHS BEFORE TRAVEL DATE

1. Research about your travel destination

 

Find out about the culture, the economy, the political climate, the location of the country and so forth. Learning about your destination immensely reduces the anxiety of living in unfamiliar territory. (Read articles like this. lol)

That awkward moment when African auto-corrects to American. Really, Google? 

 

2. The right documentation

 

What are the travel requirements for moving to that country? Do you have a valid passport? What are the visa requirements? In addition, make sure to make copies of all your relevant documents.

 

3. The flight

 

It is safer and cheaper to book your flight 2 to 3 months before the date of travel.

 

4. Accommodation

 

Are you renting a house, staying at a hotel or with family and friends. It is imperative to make these arrangements on time. You do not want to arrive at your destination only to find out that there is no house for you.

 

5. The language;

 

No one expects you to master a language in 2 months. A few phrases? Definitely. It doesn't hurt to learn a phrase or two for when the angry-looking immigration officer asks for your passport in Spanish.

 

4. Travel insurance

 

Should you get the insurance cover at home or at your destination? If you get it at home, will it actually work in the foreign country? (There are so many insurance cons out there!) Furthermore, does it cover both the travel and medical expenses? 

 

5. Banking options 

 

Find out from your local bank if you can use your card in the foreign country at no additional cost.

 

Alternatively, find out how easy it is to open up a bank account in the country you are moving to (you may be surprised at how complicated it is). You may need to open up a PayPal account for online transactions. It is more convenient.

 

6. Cost of living

 

You have to consider how expensive it is to live in that country. And your anticipated expenses. How do you plan on managing the cost?

 

7. Emergency fund

 

In my article Ways to save for that trip without a stable income, I write about the need for an emergency fund; in case of a natural disaster, a medical emergency or a loss in the family. You will need to set aside some money for the unpredictable. 

A MONTH TO THE TRAVEL DATE

 8. Exchange rates

 

Should you exchange money before you leave or once you arrive at your destination? If your local currency is weaker than the foreign currency, chances are you will get a better rate in your country of residence. Most likely, your home currency will be undervalued in the foreign country. 

 

9. Policy on working in the foreign country

 

This depends on whether you would like to make some money as you visit or study abroad? If so, you need to find out if your visa allows you to work. Or do you need to apply for a work permit?

 

For most European countries, a student visa allows you 90 hours of work per week. Find out what your visa allows you to do.

 

10. Vaccinations

 

Do you need to take certain vaccinations and shots before you travel? What are the medical requirements of the country you will be traveling to?

 

Can you travel immediately after receiving the vaccine or do you have to wait for a specific amount of time before the medication is considered effective? 

2 WEEKS TO THE TRAVEL DATE

11. Weather

 

What's the weather going to be like at your destination? Most of Africa is relatively warm, so this is very vital. Do you have the right clothing? If not...

 

12. Buy what you need

 

But only what you need. Remember that most airlines have luggage restrictions. Plus, you do not want to spend all your money before you actually get to your destination.

 

13. Safety 

 

This should be a priority. How safe is the country you're travelling to?

 

Although African countries are notorious for insecurity, let's be honest. Many Western countries are known for that too.

 

(During my exchange program in Paris, almost 1/3 of my class lost valuables like phones and laptops. So, beware!

 

14. Stock up on medicines

 

It is safer to pack some medicines for common ailments such as flu, headaches and malaria. You never know what you're carrying from home.

ON THE TRAVEL DAY

Wake up early, spend your day with family and friends because you are about to leave that exciting part of your life behind, for a while at least.

 

15. Luggage

 

As you pack, remember that there are certain foods that are banned on airlines. Also, you should not pack liquids heavier than 100ml in your carry on bags.

 

Additionally, you can't carry Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on certain airlines lately (or has the ban been lifted?)

 

Note; If you are carrying luggage on behalf of relatives, make sure you know exactly what you are carrying. People are notorious for tricking friends and relatives into carrying illegal goods.

 

16. Check-in time

 

Arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before your flight departs. This time allows you to go through security and check in your luggage.

 

Remember to locate your terminal or gate first before you wander off to the duty-free shops.

 

Once you arrive at your destination, don't forget to...

 

17. Register with your embassy in the foreign country.

 

It is important that they have your contact information in case of an emergency. Also, in case you lose your travel documents, you need to be in the system to speed up the process.

 

Have a safe and unforgettable experience. Don't forget to return to the motherland every now and then. ;-)

 

By the way, if you will be flying for the first time, I recommend that you read my article on the Expectations of a first-time flyer. 

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About the author

Hi, I am Angelica, a creative writer with a particularly intense interest in travel blogging.

 

I started this blog to write about what I love to do...Travel. And occasionally, a few other topics.

 

On the blog, you will find travel tips, recommendations and imaginative stories. Hope you love to travel as much as I do. If not, this article may persuade you!

 

Oh, before you go on with your fab life, leave a comment below and subscribe to my mailing list. Cheers!

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