Preparing to Leave for Europe

You are going to be leaving the country for a long time; 6 months, a year, or even longer.

Trust me when I say that you do not want to have to be dealing with something like renewing your credit card or paying an unpaid bill 6 months into your trip from halfway across the world. Get yourself squared away and details cleared before you get on that plane; it will make your life so much smoother.

Make Sure to Plan Well in Advance so You Don't Forget Anything

Money for the Trip

  • If you are not planning on getting a credit card in the country you are going to work in, make sure that all of your credit cards/debit cards will not expire while you are away. It becomes a real hassle to get a new card because companies like Visa will generally only ship your new card to your permanent address back in North America.
  • Notify your credit card company and bank that you re moving overseas and let them know which country and for how long. This will prevent them from putting a hold on your account the first time you try to access your money from Europe.
  • Check to make sure that your bank account can be accessed over seas. If possible have your account set up so that you can access it as both a checking and savings account as some country’s bank machines only allow one selection or the other for foreign accounts. Ensure that your bank card can use the Plus or Cirrus network and set your password to four digits with no letters.
  • Make sure that someone you trust has all of your bank and credit card information. If something goes wrong, or you lose your credit card, you will then have a backup of all the information you need.

Paying Bills While Abroad

  • Make sure that you pay off bills that need taken care of and that any ongoing expenses are covered by post dated checks or automatic withdrawals.
  • If you have student loans, make sure monthly payments are handled automatically. In Canada, you may also be able to apply for interest and payment relief during the time you are away.
  • If you are going to be gone through the first part of the year, make sure you have arranged for someone to do your taxes and that they have all the necessary documentation.

Stuff to Bring to Europe

  • Get an adapter plug for the country you are going to for all of your electronics. Many European countries use 240V mains supply rather than the 120V that North America uses. Some of your electronics are designed to use either 120V or 240V and those will be fine to use with only an adapter plug. For your other electronics, you will also need a converter for countries that use 240V. An excellent list of the power requirements for each country can be found at KROPLA.
  • Find a place to store your household goods while you are away. Your parents?garage works best but if they are not keen, there are all kinds of U-Store storage places available. This is also a great opportunity to get rid of a bunch of stuff and organize your possessions. Do you really want to be paying extra money to store all those back issues of US magazine?

Personal Matters

  • Get health insurance that will cover your traveling and your time abroad. Depending on your visa, you may not get access to the health care system in the country in which you are working.
  • Get current mailing addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers of friends and family. Guaranteed you are going to need this information anyway since everyone and their dog is going to want a postcard from you while you are away.
  • Have the biggest going away party that you can! The most important thing is to take as many pictures as possible during the party. These pictures and the memories of all your friends and family will be your first line of defense against homesickness. And how much of an excuse do you really need for a party, anyway?


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