Traveling Abroad: Top 10 Tips for the Adventurer

Adventure, great food, and lots of uncertainty.  Traveling abroad sounds like fun but also just a little daunting…

We thought we were crazy when the idea struck us just over a year ago. It seems like forever with all the planning, all the research, and all the daydreaming, but we’re writing to you today from Taipei, Taiwan and want to share our tips for traveling abroad!

Teaching English Online: Traveling the world, Taipei at Dusk

Figuring out where to go and what to do can be the hardest part about making the jump and traveling abroad. For us, it took a year of planning to decide which country we wanted to go to, what we wanted to do while we were there and even then, after we arrived, our plans completely changed. Traveling abroad requires flexibility and accepting the unknown.

Our traveling abroad adventure began when we arrived in Taiwan, eyes wide, ready to teach English. That didn’t last long. Upon arrival, and after meeting with a handful of schools, we decided that teaching English in Taiwan was not for us. We realized that we were never going to get the opportunity to travel as we desired.

Initiate panic mode!  

Do we spend a year unhappily teaching English in a school or do we run home with our tails tucked between our legs and our confidence shattered? Neither!

Enter stage left: teaching English online.

We spent entire days researching and preparing for online English teaching jobs and it paid off.  Now gainfully employed as digital nomads, we can look ahead to our future travels!

Whether you’re teaching English like us or just following your wanderlust, here are our 10 tips for traveling abroad:

1. Find Your Destination

First step of traveling abroad is knowing where you want to go

Figure out where you want to go and what would make you happiest. If you love pasta and cheese then make your way to Italy. If you want your life to be an endless plate of soup dumplings then maybe Taiwan is right for you. Whatever your passion, whether it’s hiking mountains, trying exotic foods, or being part of a bustling and vibrant city, have a good feeling that where you’re headed is right for you.

2. Money

Unfortunately, you can’t do much without it. It’s ideal to have a good amount saved so you can live and enjoy your time abroad. If you’re moving abroad then it might be a good idea to figure out a source of income before you go like blogging, teaching English or working remotely in your field. That said, there are plenty of travelers who have gone abroad with very little and had an amazing adventure. If you’re in the market for a great travel credit card then read our blog about top 5 credit cards for going abroad!

3. Just Book It

Our plane ticket to Taipei.
Yes, that is a Hello Kitty plane ticket.

It’s only a thought in your head until you’ve booked that flight to start traveling abroad. You should probably know where you’ll be staying as well. Once that’s taken care of all you have to do is wait. And plan ahead, of course!

4. Wrapping Up Loose Ends at Home

Luna is the most adorable dog ever
Our dog, Luna, who’s currently running around 3 acres at Camp Grandma and Grandpa (AKA Gram and Gramps Storage Center)

Are you moving or just traveling abroad? Do you have pets and a household of belongings? Figure out what you want to do with all your crap if you’re moving. If you don’t see yourself coming back anytime soon then sell, donate or throw away everything you can and store the rest. This can be hard if you’re a sentimental hoarder like Darah. If you have some furry loved ones then send your pets to camp grandma and grandpa (or anyone willing to pet sit) like we did!

5. Staying Connected

Data and phone plans while traveling abroad

If you’re traveling abroad and not taking the internet with you, we envy you. But for most travelers or expats, the internet is a necessity. It’s how we work abroad. It’s how we’re writing to you right now. Research phone plans with your carrier and your destination before you travel, and if you’re staying in an AirBnB like we are, verify the wifi with the host. It depends on the country, but unlimited high speed data plans in Taiwan have made our lives much easier and have done so for just $30 USD (per person) for one month. Stay tuned for an in-depth guide on the best U.S. Carriers to use abroad.

6. Passport/Visa

Make sure your passport isn't due to expire while traveling abroad

Make sure your passport won’t expire soon. Most countries only allow entry if your passport has more than 6 months left until it expires. It’s also important to research any country you may want to visit to see if they require you to apply for a visa before you leave. For those from the U.S., the Department of State website is a great resource.

7. Packing

Overpacking when traveling abroad
A great example of overpacking. Don’t do it.

There are three types of packing. Packing for backpacking, which requires no more than a week’s worth of clothes strapped to your back. Packing for moving, which varies from person to person and could include a suitcase or two of clothes and belongings meant for the long term. And packing for traveling, the least stressful of the three, involves just enough clothes for the period of time you will be gone.  Try your best to not over pack! Trust us, it made our arrival in Taiwan a disaster. 

8. Insurance

Do research on the best travel insurance that will fit your needs for the period of time you’ll be traveling abroad. You don’t know what could happen, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have a credit card, check whether you have travel insurance through it but it might not cover everything you need.  If you’re going to be working abroad then you’ll most likely get insurance through employment. We would’ve gotten good health insurance had we signed a contract with a school in Taiwan. However, in our case, we are independent contractors and it’s up to us to handle insurance.

9. Take a Deep Breath

You can do it! Easy for some, harder for others, going abroad evokes all kinds of emotions, especially if you’re moving. Wherever your destination, always keep your eyes out for other expats or friendly locals. They’re not hard to find! A smiling face or helping hand goes a long way in helping you settle in.

10. Have an Open Mind

Last but most assuredly not least, have an open mind and take on tomorrow with a positive attitude. You’re on an adventure so live it to the fullest! Don’t expect cultures to be the same as yours, embrace your surroundings and be a respectful foreigner.

We hope this short list will help you plan for your leap across the pond!

Comment below to share your experience with going abroad and don’t forget to subscribe for updates as we travel from country to country!

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Where Food Takes Us

We’re Darah and Garrett. Our life has been an adventure ever since we eloped in a pink Cadillac in Las Vegas. Now we’re running around the world, working online, and eating everything we can.

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1 year ago

Great suggestions! While I’ve never given travel of this nature any thought, are there always English teaching jobs wherever you go? Seems to be many people rely on those types of jobs but I just wondered if they are as in demand as it would seem to be.

These are some great tips. We’ve been backpacking for almost 3 years now and it feels like second nature. I remember before we set off thinking it was going to be way more complicated that it really is. I think the best advice is to plan enough but not too much, get everything tied up and to just go for it. Travelling is mostly about learning on your feet and trusting yourself!

1 year ago

These are great tips! I’ve traveled abroad a number of times and can definitely attest to these. I particularly love the “just book it!” That’s what I tell people all the time. You can talk about taking a dream vacation to X place, but it isn’t going to happen unless you bite the bullet an buy that plane ticket!

Susanne Jungbluth
1 year ago

Yes, good planning is everything! I believe the thought of having to pet a pet would hinder me on a long journey. Also, the thought that it is in good hands, would not be for me. I have met some travelers in the meantime and with each the tour is different than originally planned. On the spot there is always something that you did not know before – but that makes the whole thing so exciting.

1 year ago

That pretty much sums it all, except I do spend a lot of time before researching on what to do, and what / where to eat ! =p

1 year ago

Wait, you got a chance to fly with Eva Air in the Hello Kitty-themed flight? I’m so jealous!!! But amen to all those tips, especially the money part… Like, you can’t go anywhere without the money and it’s just unavoidable. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

1 year ago

These are really important and useful tips. Particularly the “do you” go where you are happy tip. Not overpacking…for real. SO much easier when you can tame the beast on that one. Let’s just say I learned the hard way and am a completely different packer now. I now want a Hello Kitty plane ticket! LOL! Also, I love the simplicity of the photo with your phone in it. So simple yet makes a statement!

Erika van 't Veld
1 year ago

I love your narrative at the beginning about how you started your travels abroad. I think you guys did well in turning down the opportunity to teach in Taiwan once you realized it wasn’t for you – life is too short to settle! I love your tips, and I LOVE that adorable boarding pass to Taipei 🙂

1 year ago

This is really helpful advice for anyone looking to spend more time abroad or move there! Your tips on Packing in particular are useful for us all.