Beware: it’s difficult to keep this blog post from becoming a rant. I’m going through about a million different things while simultaneously moving overseas, from Seattle to Vietnam. So here’s a few tips on how to decrease stress when moving abroad.
- Set a deadline. Even if the move seems nothing but IMPOSSIBLE at the moment, a deadline serves as both your motivation and your glimmer of hope. Nearly three years ago, I set the deadline for October 2016 and stuck to it, even when times were tough. But now the goal is within my reach. And guess when I’m going! October 2016.
- Make a checklist of everything to take care of before you go. Think over what you could easily forget. Giving your friend back her spare key, for example. Set that doctor’s appointment to make sure you get your malaria pills before you leave. Take your typhoid pills. Update your glasses or contacts prescription. Get that one last teeth cleaning. Obtain your certification to teach English. I could go on….Make this list this about year in advance and check it often.
- Locate an emergency contact in the country or area you will be moving to. Everyone knows it’s easier to move to a place where you have friends. Besides that, you may need help in an emergency, when lugging your stuff around, in getting safety or visa tips, or in translating or interpreting. You can make contact through worldwide volunteer organizations, friends of yours from that area, locals who provide accommodations through Airbnb or Couchsurfing, and/or fellow travel bloggers (if you are one). If all else fails, make sure you do your research and know where the nearest embassy is.
- Start your travel blog website WELL in advance. Why? Because I am super stressed over tweaking and fixing and optimizing my own website right now. Trust me! Even if you have nothing to post, just get started. This way, you will be able to focus on one thing at a time: first your website, then moving, then building up your freelance business on your beautified website. One step at a time.
- Don’t quit your day job. Or do. The choice is yours. In my own experience, hitting the Internet full time has been a better move than to stick to my (physically and mentally) high-impact job as a sushi restaurant supervisor/server/chef/hostess/bathroom-Nazi. You can only wear so many hats. I like my homey work-at-home hat myself. (Repetitive sentence alert…)
- Keep an up-to-date list of ALL passwords with you at ALL times. Why? Because you will have to change your passwords like crazy after moving abroad. Anything could happen, from getting hacked through insecure networks to making your bank suspicious of your foreign ATM transactions. If you keep a list of all your passwords, this will prevent you getting permanently locked out of any accounts. I am speaking from experience, as I have been permanently locked out of my Hotmail account since Vietnam.
- Get rid of as much of your stuff as possible. Set a goal of how much luggage to take, and work towards it. Start on this soon, so you can take your time. Take one day to go through all those old papers and wrinkled receipts you forgot you had. Take another to organize your belongings in easy-to-store containers. Separate things to keep at your parents’ house (as in my case) from things to take with you. Finally, set aside things to donate or give to friends, which brings us to number four.
- Donate rather than sell. This will save SO much time! I have found consignment stores to cause me much more stress than just dumping everything off at my favorite nonprofit thrift store.
- Go through all spices and preserved foods as efficiently as possible. Hit up that pantry rather than the store! This will save you money for the big move and prevent waste.
- Look after yourself. The biggest mistake you can make is skipping meals, giving up on exercise, or staying indoors all day long. Besides, the last thing you want in a third world country is to have to rely on the local medical experts. Sure, you have a lot to do, but you need to take breaks to renew yourself. A healthy body is a much-less-stressed body. If you don’t believe me, hit the gym to prove me wrong. #ToldYouSo
Read more about my Vietnam adventures: