Inform Your Banks
There are not many things worse than going to the ATM in your new country only to find out your card is blocked. Most US banks will only allow you to put a 6-month travel notice on your account so you will need to renew this periodically. When notifying your bank in advance you can take the opportunity to collect all of the relevant international transfer information. What is the SWIFT code? What branch number and address should you use when sending money from your local account back to the States? Do they charge a service fee for transactions made in foreign currencies? Does your credit card bank have a corresponding local institution to whom you can make your payments? Taking the 10-15 minutes to speak with a representative can save your hours of headaches and late nights of staying up to get a live person on the phone.
Get Evac Insurance
While your new employer or country may provide health insurance, if you are working in the developing world it is a smart idea to carry additional evacuation insurance. This supplemental coverage will ensure in the case of emergency you are taken to the nearest country with medical treatment centers on par or exceeding those in the United States. For example, if you are in an automobile accident in Mozambique you will be flown or driven to the nearest South African care facility. In other areas, the evacuation may be to Europe or Singapore.
Get a VoIP Number
While WhatsApp, Kik, Viber, Skype and all of the other messaging services out there are great for keeping in touch, there is still something to be said for making it easier for older relatives to reach you from their “landline”. Most VoIP service providers will allow you to port your phone number meaning you can take your American mobile number with you. This makes keeping in touch as well as buying and paying for items in the US easier. Your VoIP can be connected to a traditional handset with an answering machine or used as a softphone on your smartphone. Most services will also send you an email with the voice message attached.
Get a Mail Drop
For reasons of privacy, not to imposes on family, or numerous other purposes, registering for a mail drop before you leave is a must. You will need to sign official forms permitting the mail service to receive and open (upon) request mail on your behalf. The address, unlike a PO box, is usable for all official documentation. The service will send you an email when new mail has been received. You will have the option of having them open it and send you a scan of the contents, store it, or trash it. At any point in time, you can request the agency to forward your mail to you overseas or to a friend or family member who may be about to visit. This is an excellent way to stay on top of official communications such as those from banks, employers, and the IRS.
Choose Kitchenware Over Clothes
Getting clothes in most places is relatively easy with prices ranging from cheap knockoff to designer items, however buying a nice knife could set you back over $150. As Americans, we have become accustomed to certain kitchen conveniences from lemon squeezers to ginger shavers, foam whippers, and plastic storage wear. These items may not be readily available in your new country or if they are can be extremely expensive. When considering those last few pounds in your suitcase or shipment bring your favorite multi-voltage or manual kitchenwares rather than clothes.