What to Consider When Moving Abroad

A few things to think about when moving abroad for the first time.

My big move across the world is a little over a month away. This realization has made me consider a few different aspects that have continuously been popping up in my stream of consciousness recently.

Here are the main issues I’ve been thinking about while getting ready for my travels:


The elephant in the room and the most common excuse for why people don’t travel. I’ve been saving for about a year for my trip.

I’m not a trust fund baby, I have a good amount of student loans, and I don’t like giving up on the things that make life fun and exciting (i.e a night out, coffee dates with friends, movies, etc). However, I’ve been working two jobs for the majority of the year, so I can enjoy the present but still be able to put a little away each month.

Granted, I still have a ways to go in order to travel for most of this year, but I’ll be spending the first 6 months of my travels in Australia using my work visa and hopefully getting paid.

Luckily the minimum wage is a lot higher in Australia than it is in the States, and the Aussie dollar is actually slightly stronger right now as well. Even though the cost of living is higher Down Under, I’ll still be making more money living abroad than I would staying at home. A win-win situation. 

Selling your stuff vs. paying for a storage unit

This was a question I went back and forth on constantly, until I realized how freeing it would be to get rid of the majority of my possessions.

Being a college student for the past four years, I don’t have many expensive belongings and hardly any furniture with moving almost every year from dorm room, to apartments, to townhouses.

I came to the conclusion that I would actually be spending more money on a storage unit for the year than I would if I just bought what I needed when I get back.

The hardest possessions for me to give away were my clothes. I think it’s because I attach memories to my clothing for some reason. But let’s be honest, I had way too many clothes to begin with since I’ve just continuously added on to my high school wardrobe over the years, getting rid of very few items in the process.

I love having a great selection of clothes, but, between working most days (with a restricted dress code) and the amount of clothes I haven’t worn in over a year, I knew it was time to pass my wardrobe on to someone who would actually use it.

Last weekend I delivered three huge trash bags full of clothes to Goodwill…and it felt good. I felt lighter in a way.

I’m also in the process of selling my nightstand, desk, and bed. I’ve found friends who are willing to look after my guitar, piano, and bike while I’m traveling, so kudos to having good friends.

All of the other material things I’m holding on to will be flying home with me next weekend in two big suitcases, when I visit home for the last time before I leave.

Somehow, I have successfully managed to find a place for my things without a monthly storage fee.

Travel insurance, to buy or not to buy?

A question that I’m still in the process of deciding how to answer.

I know the safe thing to do is to just buy the insurance, but I will only be traveling with a few electronics and I’ve realized that the cost of travel insurance for the whole year would be more than the cost of those electronics put together.

I’m thankfully also blessed with having good health insurance while abroad, thanks to my dad’s time working for the city, so my health will be covered.

To be fair, it really depends on your individual situation and budget. If I didn’t have health coverage abroad I would probably be leaning more toward the benefits of purchasing travel insurance.

What electronics to bring with you

I’m a travel blogger, I’m bound to carry around a handful of electronic trinkets to help with my blogging, keep me connected, and get the most out of sharing my travels. I’ve minimized as best I can, and I think I’ve finally found the perfect balance.

1 Canon Rebel T3 DSLR

1 iPhone

1 MacBook Air (I’m in the process of trying to find someone to buy my MacBook Pro 15″ so that I can carry a lighter alternative with me)

And that’s it.

I’ll be living out of one suitcase for the year so this will have to suffice.

Finding the best way to stay in contact with those at home

You’re bound to leave those most special to you behind when you decide to go on a round the world trip by yourself.

For me, this comes in the form of my family and my friends from high school and college. It’s important to think about the best (and cheapest) way to keep in contact with these people once you make the big move, and follow through in keeping those connections you hold dearest to you.

One of the scariest aspects of moving abroad is having your social network and safety net of connections grabbed out from underneath you.

To bridge the gap as much as you can between people who are continents and time zones apart, without sacrificing your travels, is a delicate balance and one that I’m sure I’ll constantly be working on in the next year.

For now, I plan to use Skype and free apps like WhatsApp and Tango to keep in contact with family and friends.


Don’t expect the road to be easy, but also don’t expect the worst

Whether you’re moving to Europe or somewhere in Asia, it’s naive to think that you’ll immediately feel at home in a foreign city. Or, that you’ll have a solid group of friends in no time and have an easy transition abroad.

Don’t get me wrong, this can definitely be the case as it was when I moved to Italy for a summer. But there’s also a possibility that you’ll have a rough time when you first move abroad. This is especially the case when you’re still getting used to everything that is foreign to you.

The famous Lao Tzu once said to act without expectation.

This is some of the best life and travel advice I’ve heard. Don’t expect things to be easy when you first move abroad, but also don’t expect the worst.

You might have the best time of your life, and learn so much about yourself in the process, but it might not come as easily as you think. Hence, why it’s important to always keep an open mind and a balanced heart while traveling.

Your plan (or lack thereof) once you get to where you’re going

When I first backpacked through Costa Rica at the age of 18 with two of my best friends, we planned out our trip almost completely ahead of time.

It was my first time abroad and I was a little nervous about things not going exactly as I imagined. Well, as I’m sure anyone who has traveled can attest, things hardly ever go exactly as you think they will when traveling.

There were many instances of that in Costa Rica, including being stranded in the middle of a dirt road, miles from the nearest town because we got off on the wrong stop, and having to hitchhike with a couple locals the rest of the way. That experience ended up being one of my favorite memories from Costa Rica.

I realized with that trip, that if you just go with the flow everything is bound to work out fine, and even better in some cases.

My summer in Tuscany was also fairly planned out. I did a culinary program for the first half of summer, and went on a backpacking bus tour across Europe with other 20-somethings, only traveling by myself to Paris and Dublin.

Australia is the first trip I’m taking where I don’t really have a plan except to get a job and my own apartment, and I couldn’t be more excited (and a little nervous) about all the different possibilities that lie before me.

I think it’s important to try out different types of trips to figure out what kind of travel you like to do – whether that be a strictly guided tour through Europe or taking off and backpacking by yourself through the Amazon.

Let me know – are you moving abroad soon? What are you most concerned about with moving abroad? 

Mimi McFadden
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