….and how to keep an overview

You decided to go abroad? Then you’ve already taken the most important step. But now it is time for planning – where, when, how, what? In order to keep an overview of your to-do-lists, it is crucial to visualize your milestones.

Deciding on which country you want to travel should be your first step. If you’ve dreamt to visit that one special place your whole life, then the decision is easy. If that’s not the case for you, there are several things to keep in mind. Work & Travel is something you want to do? Then Australia, New Zealand and Canada are the most common places to go for. Just be aware that there are other options you might like as well, like Japan or Israel. Don’t solely decide on a country because of its landscape – compare prices for flight, accommodation and visa. For example – the Flights to New Zealand and Australia are more expansive than to Canada and concerning visa costs, Australia is not the cheapest option either. On the other hand, living expenses are higher in Canada than in Australia.

After comparing costs, you should check the rules and regulations for the visa you want to go for. While it is possible to get a Work & Travel Visa until the age of 35 in Canada, Australia and New Zealand are only giving them to people under 30. Added to that, you should inform yourself about accommodation, jobs and the infrastructure beforehand. It is best to get those on Social Media from other travellers that are sharing their experiences online.

  • Apply for a passport

In times of Generation Y, a passport normally is a must-have anyway. In case you don’t have one yet, you should apply for it quickly as there’s no way of getting a visa without a passport! You have to apply for it in person at your local administrative office – you need a biometric passport photograph and your ID card. When you’re under 24, it will cost you 37,50 Euro, after that it’s 60 Euro. It is going to take up to four weeks until you’ll get your passport. In case there’s not that much time left, you can still get it, but it will cost you more. If you already have a passport, check the expiry date and make sure it will last for your time abroad. When you’re planning to drive abroad, an international driving license might be needed – you only need to apply for it with your (German) driving license.

  • Get a credit card

It makes living abroad a lot easier, if you have a credit card. You will also need it when applying for all kinds of documents. Added to that, you will have access to your “normal” bank account and more importantly, to the money in it.

First thing to do, is checking which offers your local bank has for you. Make sure where you will be able to withdraw money, what they’ll charge you for it and what they can offer you in general. You should also ask them how to use the online banking. It’s always worth to compare!

  • Apply for a visa

The embassy of your chosen country will give you information about your options. If you want to work and travel, a Work & Travel Visa is the best option for you. In case you just want to travel for up to three months, a tourist visa will suffice. Studying abroad requires a student visa. Every visa has different conditions that must be met. Depending on which visa you chose for what country, time of processing might vary and that’s why starting early is never a bad idea. In Australia and New Zealand, it is enough to request a Work & Travel Visa, in Canada you must apply for it first. The costs for a visa also vary – Australia is on top with 290 Euro.

  • Book your flight

As soon as you’ve got your visa, you should book a flight as they get more expensive the longer you wait. Here, you have different options as well: you can either book both ways at once or just buy a one-way-ticket, which comes in handy when you’re not sure how long you want to stay. Anyway, it is always best to get a return flight because it is cheaper most of the time. If needed, you can pay an extra charge and change the day of departure. Sometimes you have the option to book a flexible return flight as well. In any case, it is a clever idea to compare the airlines and look for the differences in number of stops, duration of flight and comfort. Don’t try to save every single penny when it comes to a long-distance-flight, as you don’t want the journey to be too exhausting.

  • Get a foreign health insurance

This is a must have! And they are also slightly different! Be aware of what the insurance offer you. Does the insurance company make advance outlays, or do I have to pay everything on my own first? Which services are included in the insurance? How much is the daily rate? Is it just for a specific country or for more than one? This is especially important, if you’re planning on visiting other countries. It is best to talk to your home insurance first and then compare it to others.

  • Get Equipment and a Luggage

Now this is where most backpackers exaggerate a little. If you’re not planning an adventure holiday, where you’re living in the wilderness, then you need less than most travel guides will tell you. Tent, sleeping bag, trekking shoes, zip-off trousers and dishes for camping are not necessary for a normal Work & Travel, if you’re not planning to do an outdoor-adventure. In the city, trekking shoes and zip-off pants might look a little weird, so there’s no need to get them if you want to stay there most of the time. And even if you’re going on tours, let’s say in the Outback, the company you chose will provide you with everything you need. A pair of good and comfy sport shoes and a practical jacket are always a good idea to get beforehand, though. You can also get towels for travelling, that don’t take up a lot of space and dry fast. If you want to stay in hostels most of the time you could also get an inlet sleeping bag.  It is also necessary to decide if you want to travel with a suitcase or a backpack – it really depends on what kind of travel you’re planning and what you prefer. If you already know, that you will be on the go a lot and have to walk great distances, then it is a good idea to get a backpack. If you prefer public transport and want to stay in one area for a longer period, a suitcase should be fine. In any case you should talk to a specialist, so you’ll get the right fit and size for you. But let me tell you – if you never liked backpacks, it is likely that you won’t like them very much when travelling. As soon as you’ve decided on your suitcase/ backpack of choice, pack it before leaving to make sure everything fits.

  • Prepare your own first-aid kit

Of course, you’ll be able to get almost every medicine abroad as well. Anyway, it is a clever idea to pack the most important things, so you’ll be prepared if there’s an emergency. And be aware that there are some pharmaceuticals, like the birth control pill, where you should pack a supply. Added to that, you should check the vaccinations that are needed to enter the country. You’ll find them on the Foreign Office’s website or you can ask your doctor.

  • Terminate your contracts, insurance and apartment

If you’re abroad for a longer period of time you should try to keep your fixed costs as low as possible. Terminate your current contracts, like gym membership, phone contract, etc. The same goes for your apartment – you can either terminate it or get a lodger, which you must talk through with your landlord first.

  • Make a forwarding request

If you’re subleasing your apartment, you should make a forwarding request at the post office. That way, you know that nothing will get lost and your friends/ family can keep you up to date.

If you’ve worked your way through these points, there’s nothing holding you back from your adventure! Say good-bye to friends and family and look forward to the future. Have fun!

*These tips are for Work & Travel. If you’re planning to study abroad, there are also other things to keep in mind!