Why Do you Need a Checklist for moving or traveling abroad?

You may be asking yourself, Eliza, why do I need a checklist for going abroad? Isn’t it supposed to be fun, spontaneous and exciting? Just let me tell you, living and traveling abroad will be all of these things whether you are prepared or not. Having a checklist and making preparations before heading out on your next adventure will help you to enjoy it that much more! Click To Tweet Trust me, I’ve learned from experience.  This is why I have created The Definitive Checklist for Moving or Traveling Abroad! You can thank me later…haha. Better yet let me know about your own experiences on Facebook, instagram, or twitter.

DOWNLOAD YOUR Definitive Checklist for Moving or Traveling Abroad PDF

Moving abroad can be a very daunting task, especially if you have never done it before. When I first moved to Korea I really had no idea what kind of culture and world I would be stepping into. I want to give you clear and actionable steps that you can use to prepare for moving abroad based on my experiences. It can be very challenging making the transition of living in another country, but it can also force you get outside your comfort zone and learn new things about yourself.

To help make the transition a little less stressful I want to share The Definitive Checklist for Moving or Traveling Abroad to prepare yourself for moving to another country. I have also attached a check list that you can print and check off and make notes as you go. I don’t know about you but having a physical list that I can write and make notes on is totally my jam to make me feel like an organized mofo. So print to your heart’s desire!

The DefinitiVe Checklist for Moving or Traveling Abroad

DOWNLOAD YOUR Definitive Checklist for Moving or Traveling Abroad PDF
Join Expat Facebook groups in your country and city

Most expat communities have an online Facebook group where expats living in that country can join to ask questions and connect with other expats. There are usually a number of different groups for different purposes and once you find the main page you can connect to the other pages. For example, I am currently living in Ulsan in South Korea and have connected with various Facebook pages based on my likes, needs, and interests.

I would suggest connecting with expat Facebook communities prior to accepting a job as you can ask for reviews on your work place in many of these forums. Click To Tweet

Groups I have joined include:

  • Ulsan Online – This page is specific to my local city and lists local questions and events. I have also seen people reach out to this group before even coming over to find out about living there
  • Ulsan used goods – where people can buy and sell products when they leave, This is a great resource for buying cheaper products rather than buying everything new.
  • Expat Women in Korea – I joined this group because I wanted to connect with other women living in Korea. I love it because I can share and learn about other women’s experiences living abroad. There are a lot of great conversations, advice and support on this page.
  • I have also joined a travel group called: Girls love travel! This is an amazing group of women who share stories and advice on traveling and living abroad. Any information I want about taking a trip I just ask or search on this page. It has changed my life!
Search for blogs (like this one!) where people write about living in your country.

This will help you get a more personal feel of what it is like to live in that country. I would definitely read more than one blog as people can have pretty different experiences living abroad. This can help you learn from other people experiences, get tips and advice and reach out to them with any questions you may have. I would recommend reading posts on local culture, weather, traveling, work and settling in. This can help you be prepared for packing and what you can expect when you arrive.

Find out about the local culture and customs

You are going to be living in a very different culture from your own. To try and avoid any misunderstandings make sure to find out about local customs. You would be surprised by the simple actions that can be misconstrued in different cultures.

Also, if you are moving to a country that speaks a different language try to learn some basic phrases such as hello, goodbye, my name is etc. I have an amazing app that I use to translate Korean called papagayo. You can translate voice recordings, take pictures of signs or notes and copy and paste text. It is amazing!

Connect with your co-workers prior to coming over

Once you have accepted a position, or even before you accept a position, ask to connect with coworkers either by skype or through email. Ask them questions about the job to get a better idea of the working conditions and job requirements. If you have already accepted the job, ask them about their own experiences and what they would recommend to bring over (maybe something that is not available in that country).

Another question to ask is about money, how much money you should bring over for the first month. Remember that your first month may be a little more expensive than usual because you are getting settled in.

Make a packing list

Once you have done your research on blogs, expat Facebook community groups and talking with a co-worker, try to make a list for packing items that you will need. Make sure to pack essentials for the weather and also extra items that may be important for you once you get there. See my list of essentials for inspiration HERE.

contact your local bank and mastercard company

Go to your bank and talk to them about the best way to manage your money abroad. Make sure that you have access to money if you need it. Find out the best way to transfer money home. I use simple wire transfers from my bank account in Korea, however if you can set up transfers online that may be a better option for you. Setting up an international bank account that is available in the country you are moving to may help make financial planning more convenient. In Korea for example, there is HSBC.

Make sure your Visa/MasterCard works internationally and notify them that you will be living abroad. Some companies will shut down your card for security purposes if it is used outside the country. Great for your security! Not so great if you need to use your card and it has stopped working!

Exchange money into local currency

Depending on where you are moving, make sure to have a little bit of cash on you in the local currency for small purchases or places that may not accept card. Most places do, but you seriously you just never know! And don’t carry too much in case it gets lost or stolen.

Make a digital and hard copy of all your cards and important files

Before you leave make a paper and digital copy of all your important cards (drivers license, health card, social security etc.) and any files you might need (contract, letter of employment, bank receipts etc). Keep a copy at home, if possible, and bring copies with you in your carry on. This will help you if you lose anything or need it replaced, you can have someone send it from home, or get it from your USB.

Let go of expectations and accept what will be

Okay, I know I’m getting a little whoo whoo here, but this is a very important part of the process! No matter how much research and preparation you do to move abroad there will always be something that surprises you. Try to let go of any expectations you may have and just go with the flow and accept whatever happens.

When I left for Korea the first time I had no idea what to expect, as I boarded the plan and left my family behind I took a deep breath and decided to just let go of any fear or expectations I may have. I set an intention to enjoy my trip and deal with any unexpected situations to the best of my ability. This really helped me get through my first couple of days in Korea. I came into a nearly empty, tiny apartment (not even a pillow or sheets on my bed!), and on the first day of school I had was thrown into a room of 15, 8 year olds not even knowing what page to start on!

Needless to say, setting my intentions allowed me to just let go and do my best. My advice is to do the same, you never know what you will be walking into when you arrive. Do what you can, with what you have, to make the best of the situation.

The Definitive Checklist for Moving or Traveling Abroad

DOWNLOAD YOUR Definitive Checklist for Moving or Traveling Abroad PDF

Having The Definitive Checklist for Moving or Traveling Abroad would have made things so much easier!! I hope it helps you!


Please share with anyone you think might benefit from this list!

And feel free to follow me on any of my social media sites to get information and updates on living and working abroad.

Is there anything you would add to the list? Comment below!

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Welcome to the Unconventional Life Blog! I'm Eliza a professional English Langauge teacher living an international life. Find out everything you ever wanted to know about teaching English, working and living abroad.


  1. I love a good plan and a good list. This definitely speaks to my type A self. Thank you for the great post!

  2. This is a very helpful post . I want to pin it for future reference. I agree , in the end even after all preparations, one must accept what can’t be changed in the new place .

    • Please pin it! I’m so glad that it helped you so much! It can be a challenging experience but really you learn so much through the process. Accepting your situation good or not is such a hard but great thing to do! I try to do it with most things I can’t change….but there are days! haha. Have you made a big move?

  3. I really enjoyed reading through some of your points, the one I agree with the most is your point of letting go and just letting things happen. It can be quite the culture shock if you haven’t been to that country or city before.

    • Hi Nadalie! Totally! It is so important to just relax into the uncomfortable surroundings an just go with the flow. I find it helps me a lot to get through the day to day and really enjoy all the aspects of living in another country. Have you lived or travelled abroad before?