Spending a few months abroad requires far more planning than a trip that only lasts a few days or even a few weeks–and not just because such trips are usually classified as â€śtemporary relocationsâ€ť instead of â€śtripsâ€ť or â€śvacations.â€ť Â Here are some of our tips for making sure that your ties to your permanent home stay strong and that your extended stay abroad goes smoothly.
Maintaining an Address
It is important, even if you plan on giving up your current dwelling (weâ€™ll get to that in a minute), that you maintain a US address while you are gone. Having even a US-based PO box address helps cement your residency and will make transitioning back to domestic life much simpler when you get home. It also saves you the hassle and considerable expense of having all of your mail forwarded internationally.
Maintaining Your Home
If youâ€™re going to be gone for a year, it is likely simpler to put all of your belongings in storage and relinquish your lease on your apartment or rent out your house for the year. If youâ€™re only going to be gone for a few months, however, youâ€™ll have more luck having a house sitter. Depending on the length of your trip, you could either have one of your friends stop by to check the mail, water the plants, etc (this works fine for anything under 3 months) or hire a live-in house sitter (recommended for any stay that lasts longer than 3 months).
There are a few options available when you decide to have a live-in house sitter. If you are renting, you can ask your landlord for permission to sublet your home while youâ€™re gone. This is the better option, financially speaking, as it alleviates the burden of having to pay your rent while youâ€™re gone. Another option is asking your social network if they or anybody they trust is looking for a place to live for a while. You can offer a reduced rate on the rent or mortgage payment in exchange for knowing your home is cared for by someone trustworthy. And if neither of these options pans out, you can always â€śhireâ€ť someone (aka you continue paying your rent or mortgage payment as usual but they agree to live in your home while youâ€™re gone).
Not all travel visas are the same. Some allow you to work, others prevent you from working. Some will allow you to leave the country during your stay others will require you stay within that nationâ€™s borders. Make sure you have the right visa squared away and paid for before you leave. The last thing you need is to land abroad and find out that you are legally restricted from working or traveling!
Depending on where youâ€™ll be traveling, you might also need to get specific medical treatments or authorizations before you leave. You might need certain vaccines or documentation proving you are vaccinated against or have never had certain conditions. Have all of this done as early as possible. If you wait until the last minute, you risk jeopardizing your trip.
Itâ€™s good to have a long-term place to stay lined up before you leave home. Few employers are willing to put employees up in hotels for long term stays but they do foot the bill for executive housing. If you are financing this trip yourself, look into subletting someone elseâ€™s place while youâ€™re there or opting in to a roommate situation. There are a lot of ways to reduce the costs of a long term stay abroad and none of them includes paying for a hotel for months on end (no matter how tempting it may be). Moreover, having a â€śhome baseâ€ť ready and waiting for you will reduce your stress levels considerably.
Figuring out what and how to pack for an extended trip abroad can be tricky. You need to pack more than you would for a short trip but you donâ€™t need to pack tons of stuff. Finding the middle ground can be difficult. A good rule of thumb is to bring enough clothes and toiletries to keep you covered until your next pay date. This way you wonâ€™t have to worry about buying a whole bunch of supplies right away. You can simply replace items as they run out. And having a couple of weeksâ€™ worth of clothes will give you a grace period without having to do laundry or buy new clothing.
When youâ€™re ready to come home, use this same approach. Ship everything except what youâ€™ll need for a week or two on site. This is much cheaper than trying to pack everything you accumulate into luggage.
Long term travel can be difficult, but if you use these tips you should be able to keep your stress level in check!