Book a ticket and just leave. Seems simple right? I mean after all, we have all thought about it at some point, just getting on a plane, bus or train and leaving everything behind and starting anew. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that, at least for most people. We have jobs, mortgages, bills, pets, family and friends. It’s hard to leave all that behind in the blink of an eye, trust me I know, I had to do just that back in May.
I never saw myself as an expatriate or someone who could live out of a backpack with just the bare minimum. I always was materialistic and thought traveling was something only the rich could afford so I surrounded myself with inanimate objects to acheive happiness. Ironically, if I had never purchased all those pointless things, I could have seen the world 3 times over by now. It turns out, even those with little means can see the world, regardless of the amount of possessions you have. In this post, I hope to introduce you to the idea of leaving it all behind and the basics of what you need to do to be successful at getting out.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to leave are, whether you’ve had it with your government, are escaping a maniac (or maniacs), can’t find a job, or just want to experience something new, you can do it. The most important thing you need to remember is you cannot second guess yourself. If you want to get out, get out and do not return until you are ready to go back.
Set realistic goals. Where do you want to go? What do you want to see? How will you make money? How long do you want to travel? You need to ask yourself these questions before you even begin to pack. Leaving your country for an extended period of time is something that should not be taken lightly because if you start your trip only to change your mind, you will end up losing a lot of money. Just like a regular short vacation, you need to always have a plan. You don’t necessarily need a concrete plan but at least a general idea of what you plan on doing.
Research the countries you plan on visiting and learn everything you can about them. If you’re an American, realise that if you don’t plan on doing a working holiday, and there are few countries where we can do them, you will be working illegally. If possible, get a working holiday visa, if you have a unique skill or degree, you can get a work permit in most countries as well.
Once you have a general plan, you need to get rid of your stuff. If you plan on being away for a while, more than 2 years, it’s usually just best to sell everything. If you plan on returning, either lease your house out or have someone watch your possessions/rent storage space. If you are like me and don’t plan on coming back to your home country any time soon, you will need to sell everything. Keep only the bare essentials which are pretty much clothes and a few lightweight electronics for keeping in touch. You won’t be dragging your 52″ TV with you so sell it. By time you get back, it will be outdated any ways and will have to buy a new one, best to get money for it while you still can.
When I was given deportation orders and returned to the states, it took me about 2 months to sell most of my stuff. If you are really determined, you can get rid of it sooner. Obviously I left originally in such a rush, I wasn’t even concerned with my possessions, just my rabbits, family and friends. If you have no real possessions then you can leave quicker than most.
That brings us to the hardest part about becoming an expatriate, family and friends. Fortunately, Skype makes being on the other side of the world feel like you are just up the street. Communicating with those back home is important and you should do it often. These are the people that truly care about you and always will so you need to realise that although you are leaving your country, you are not leaving your family. If you are determined to never return, they can also visit you which is good for them because chances are, especially being American, they haven’t left their country as much as other nationalities.
Finally, once you have your plan, got rid of your possessions, it’s time to book your flight and get out of dodge. You will get home sick and have the urge to return home but I promise you, you will get over it. Talk to fellow travellers, make friends, being abroad is an experience and about getting outside your comfort zone. Some people I have met have been outside their country for 4 or more years. I may be a total newbie when it comes to this but I do know what I am talking about. Homesickness will fade, just keep in contact with your loved ones via Skype and you’ll be fine.
Obviously it’s harder than it sounds, to just book a ticket and leave but it is possible. Follow my numerous articles and you will be on the right path to becoming an expatriate in no time. Although you can start in 12 hours from now, I do not encourage it in the least bit as you don’t have time to get a lot done or even say good bye. If you want out, give yourself at least two months to sell your possessions, say good bye and save up some cash. Leaving the United States was one of the hardest things I have ever done but I am glad I did. Life is an adventure and you only live once so make the most out of it.