Travel has this extraordinary power to make you realize that you can break the mold and live for the now, for the self-exploration and life experience that comes from more than just following the well-trodden yellow brick road at home. Sometimes, taking on travel might make you realize…that you don’t want to go back home. At least not any time soon.
You might meet the love of your life out there in the big bad world or discover this tiny corner of the globe and see the word “home” spelled out in dazzling yellow lights. Perhaps you’ve been offered a job and for the first time, you feel what passion is. Manifestations happen on the road that change your life forever. You stretch out that budget to the last penny and extend your plane ticket without a second thought, until time is grasping firmly onto your ankles, pulling and pulling, until you either finally hop on that plane or you do the unthinkable…cancel that ticket and stay put with nothing but a backpack or a suitcase.
You’ve learned to listen to your gut and live in the present while abroad, and the challenge of conquering obstacles the unexpected brings is what you hunger for. Hello, it’s your gut speaking. Take that middle finger and shove it up high in the air. Then, get to work, because you’re broke, don’t have a place to live, you have loose ends to knot up at home, and yea- you’re a foreigner in a foreign country. Here are some tips to get you started on organizing your life back home now that you’re living abroad.
Sell your car
Let’s kick things off with one of the more difficult decisions you’ll have to make (or maybe not so difficult): selling your beloved car. When I decided to cancel my plane ticket home, it was a no brainer for me to do the deed and collect that fat check. Back home, where cars rule as the ultimate mode of transportation and it’s pretty near impossible to get around without one, it would seem as if my decision was completely ludicrous, especially since my car was already paid off. After backpacking for six months where motorbikes, reliable public transit and walking were my main sources of getting from point A to point B, a golden light descended upon the misconception that a car is a necessity. It’s a luxury, eats up money, promotes physical inactivity and kills the planet. Plus, I wanted to give it to someone in need of a cheap car instead of letting it rot in my parents driveway. I worried about the intricacies of not being present for the sale, but this post helped me get an idea of what steps to take, and with the help of my family, it was a piece of cake.
In fact, sell everything
I got hooked on the euphoric feeling that resulted from ridding myself of material crap. I went on a selling spree before I left to travel, but if you still have your furniture, clothes and electronics while abroad- get ‘em up on Craigslist! That’s some solid cash to aid in your new, international life. Have a family member or a close friend you trust assist with the physical exchange back home. Also consider just giving some of your junk away for free; it leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling in the pit of your stomach and also makes you realize, it’s all just material “stuff” that you’ll most likely forget about anyways (or you already have).
Get the low-down on your personal bank
Depending on where you live and the bank that serves your financial needs, get in contact with them to discuss your overseas plans and how this will change your current banking status. If an emergency occurs with your account, such as them blocking your purchase of plane tickets in the Philippines because they don’t know you’re there and think its fraudulent activity, then, my friend, you’re in quite a sticky situation. Next, become informed on any fees associated with withdrawing money or using a debit/ credit card, because depending on the bank, those hefty international transaction fees can feel like a loogie to the face when you realize how much they add up and wreak havoc. If your bank doesn’t suit your new international lifestyle, there are plenty of other banks that cater to the expat crowd with little to zero international fees and extensive online banking services. Be sure to set up online banking immediately and look into a proper travel credit card.
And then, there are taxes….
*Sigh, shake head and stare solemnly out nearest window*…oh taxes. They always show up at the party unannounced and proceed to poop on all of the fun. I can’t offer much advice on figuring out taxes while overseas, because a) I hate them b) When someone mentions math, my eyes instantly glaze over, I see rainbow-colored numbers in Times New Roman font floating through a galaxy and drool dribbles from the corner of my lips c) Everyone has a vastly different tax situation. The best advice to learn the process and avoid complications is to a) Have your tax documents easily accessible b) Talk with an accountant that specializes in international/ expat taxes c) If you work abroad, make sure taxes are one of the priority questions you bring up to your employers.