Absolute Must Do’s Before Departing

Our previous newsletter, You Can’t Take Everything, invited International Educators to share what they consider the absolute must-pack-&-bring items for an overseas move.

Advice included provisions you wouldn’t readily think to take along. Here’s a sample:

♦ Extra socks & underwear. Even though they may be manufactured in your new location, they may not be worn or sold there.

♦ Soft linens/towels. They’re not available in all countries.

♦ Wall art, unframed. Blank walls get depressing & framing is inexpensive in most locations.

♦ 5-second nail glue, Polysporin, band-aids, liquid hand gel.

♦ Screens to cover windows so you can open them & keep the bugs out.

For more items see: You Can’t Take Everything

..Now that we all know what to bring with us, the next essential step before departure is getting your life arranged so you can manage all your responsibilities from a distance. There’s much more to this than meets the eye & speaking from experience, it’s a heck of a lot easier to make arrangements from home than from thousands of miles away, across multiple time-zones.

Some examples of a must-do list:

♦ Set up all bank accounts for online access & test log-ins (make sure all bank cards/credit cards are up-to-date).

♦ Ensure passports/driver’s license are up-to-date. Get an international driver’s permit & extra pictures of yourself for documents.

♦ Decide what to do with your current car insurance – it’s difficult/expensive to get a new policy when you return home if you don’t have an existing policy. Figure the costs of keeping it vs. cancelling it.

♦ If you have health insurance & an existing condition, canceling the policy may mean trouble getting a new policy when you return to live back home. Weigh how long you plan to be gone against the price of a new policy with pre-existing conditions added in.

♦ Get all bills paid off early if possible & shut down everything you can. Put bills you can’t pay off on auto pay.

Relax, it’s supposed to be stressful.

Seasoned international educators, you’ve learned some valuable lessons in regard to overseas moves. Here’s an opportunity to offer sound advice for teachers new, & not so new, to the International teaching circuit. Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is all about!

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7 thoughts on “Absolute Must Do’s Before Departing

  1. For all adults… Police records both state and federal and driver’s license records if they are satisfactory. Extra bank cards, too. A flach drive with a number of VPN links. You cannot type ‘VPN’ in a Chinese search bar and get any links! Though I’m American my VPN was from HK.


  2. Instead of cancelling your car insurance or paying for it, check to see if you can suspend it — keep it in abeyance — while you are gone. If you have a car overseas, get a statement from your insurance company when you leave attesting that you have had no accidents or claims. That will facilitate getting affordable insurance at your next location or back “home,” whichever the case may be.

    Re: VPNs, I used Strong for four years and had no problems. Their customer service also was good.

    Load up your Kindle before you leave as Amazon can charge fees to download internationally, depending where you are.

    Depending on where you are going, vaginal creams may not be available. Try to bring all you need with you or have friends who come back to the US for Christmas, etc., bring you more. I was recently in the Middle East, and the country just did not import medication that was specifically for women. This could be true of birth control pills. Try to check with the school nurse or doctor or a faculty member before you go.

    Let your credit card companies know you will be using your card overseas, and remind them every six months. I had an ongoing battle with Citicard which froze my account every six months if I did not remind them that I was overseas — even after five years!


  3. Establish a permanent mailing address and phone number in your home country — could be a relative (easiest if you share the same last name) or a trusted friend. Memorize it and use it for all official documents, including banking and immigration. You don’t have to own the property or the phone number, but it must be valid and reliable. So many websites and documents want an address and phone number, best to keep it consistent.


  4. I am looking at a problem right now with my banking as my bank was recently (1 1/2 weeks ago), taken over by another bank. I used to be able to do all banking, bill paying, etc from overseas, however now my bank requires a pin to login and a new pin is sent via phone text each time you are logging in- I will need a pin to login just to change the login phone # which of course I do not have as I will be starting in less than a week n a new country. I will speak with my bank today, however I may have to switch to a less safety conscious bank IMMEDIATELY!!! A Banking Mess. If Anyone has a suggestion, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!


    1. Some banks will txt the pin to a foreign phone number. Or else you can set up a google-voice (or Vonage or Skype) number in your home area code — login to the connected app, and you can “receive” text messages.
      Then call the bank and switch to that new number.


    2. When I was teaching abroad, I used Bank of America, they seemed to be the best at handling international accounts, don’t require these pins, are secure…


    3. I ran into this problem with WF. They, like some other banks, offer customers an RSA fob. It randomly displays 6 digits that correspond to a key entry on the bank’s website.

      It’s there in part for overseas customers. Unfortunately, some banks will need you to request it in person at the branch. Others will charge you for it. I found it helpful to remind them that I was perfectly able to bank without these hassles before — their zealous security measures are the reason I need an RSA. Got the charges waived that way.

      Another option which may or may not work is to access your bank’s website through a VPN, set to a server in your home country.

      Even the best VPNs are pretty affordable if you pay by the year (I like Private Internet Access, personally) and you should probably have one anyway. In my current host country, I learned that my ISP was sharing my connection with a few neighboring households — standard practice here. That means anyone with a fundamental knowledge of networks could easily see what I’m doing online — yes, even passwords!

      A good VPN can also keep you connected to your favorite Netflix programs. What’s available on the international Netflix is not the same as what’s included on the US and UK Netflix.


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