Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Pre-Spain Check List & Travel Tips

As I mentioned yesterday, I will be returning to Spain next month. I still don't know when I will be leaving exactly, but I know that there is A LOT of stuff I need to take care of before I can and do go. I thought that I would shed some light on all of the things that one should do before they decide to move abroad, either as an expatriate, or a traveler. Here is the list:

  • Figure out which city you will be living in, and
  • Get the forms and letter needed to get a visa. (Entirely dependent on the program, ~2 weeks.)
  • Get a visa (~2 week process)
    • Background check
    • Fingerprints 
    • Appointment at the Consulate
    • Other
  • Book a flight
  • Get out of current lease at lowest-possible-cost
  • Cancel electric/gas at apartment
  • Move belongings into a storage unit
    • Shop around for the lowest-cost-unit
  • Dental appointment for teeth cleaning
  • Orthodontist appointment to have bottom retainer put back on
  • Hair appointment for a long over-due hair trim
  • Go to my bank and inform them that I will be leaving the country, so they don't put any holds on my account while I am there or flag anything as irregular activity.
  • Go into AT&T (your service provider) and tell them you will be living in another country; try and see if there is a way to keep phone active, or determine costs/cancel service.
  • Visit family
  • Visit friends
    • Santa Barbara
    • San Francisco 
    • Sacramento
    • Chico
  • Pack up, and ship out!

So far I have done (items in bold above):
-Looked into storage units and written down several numbers to call and find out their prices (today's task).
-Called my housing management company to tell them I lost my job and have to move out (the truth, really). I am waiting to hear back from them, and have been calling everyday since Thursday to try and figure this out with them. I may have to resort to calling my landlord's cell phone if I don't hear back today, since rent is supposed to be paid on the first and I would not like to pay if I will not be living there.
-Arranged a dental cleaning appointment and orthodontist appointment. 
-Figured out how I will go about buying my flight over to Spain.

This list will vary depending on what you have planned (living/moving/traveling), but the visa, passport, and informing your bank and mobile provider are A MUST for everyone! Another suggestion for going overseas related to your bank came to me before I went abroad a few years ago, and that was, find out if your bank has a sister bank overseas. Sometimes there is a bank that you can go to in another country that you will not get the fees that normally come with withdrawing from a non-bank ATM. This can save you a huge amount of money in the long-run! I would also suggest pulling out the maximum amount of money that you can at once, to avoid getting those charges multiple times. Also, if you're going to be living somewhere for an extended period of time as I am, opening an account at a local bank that's spread throughout the country/continent/region is helpful too, for the same reason. I didn't do this when I went abroad, and regretted it. (I will be doing it this time around, and save myself hundreds of dollars in fees [cumulative over the months].) I was also told that having a bank card without the Visa symbol was good, because if your card was stolen, they couldn't use it for anything and everything because it's only good for taking money out at ATMs. My recommendation: DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS! It was a horrible mess trying to do anything without having the Visa symbol on the card. I could only use cash, it wouldn't work online to buy flights, and I couldn't use it in any establishment. Big hassle, avoid it!

That's just the tip of the iceberg on travel tips I will be providing throughout this journey, stay tuned!

Today's Thought/Feeling: Content. I think I am moving in the right direction, and am feeling very close to God right now, so I feel very confident in my choices. It might change tomorrow or later today, but for now...feeling good!

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