Ready, Set, Go: Essential Steps to Prepare for a Year Abroad

step to prepare for living abroad

A gap year is an exciting and potentially transformative step in one’s life. Preparation is the key to a trouble-free and enjoyable experience, whether learning, working, or enjoying a new culture. This article is a complete guide to help you prepare for your year abroad, covering everything from organising your travel documents to packing your needs.

Research And Planning

Moving to a foreign country for a year requires careful research and planning. One of the best ways to stay organised and ensure you don’t miss any important steps is by utilising tips for moving house, such as a helpful checklist. This checklist should include tasks such as researching the country’s culture and customs, learning about the local language, and understanding the healthcare system.

preparing to live abroad

Start by researching the country you will be visiting. Learn about its history, traditions, and etiquette. This will not only help you understand and appreciate the local culture, but it will also make your transition smoother. Understanding the customs and cultural norms will allow you to integrate better into the community and avoid unintentional misunderstandings. Next, familiarise yourself with the local language. Even if English is widely spoken, knowing a few basic phrases in the local language can go a long way in making connections and showing respect to the locals. Consider taking language classes or using language learning apps to improve your communication skills before you go.

Travel Documents

Before jetting off to your year abroad destination, ensuring you have all the necessary travel documents is essential. This includes your passport, visa, and other required permits or identification. Start by checking the expiration date on your passport. Some countries require that your passport be valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date, so make sure to renew it if necessary.

prepping to live abroad

If you require a visa to enter your destination country, research the specific requirements and begin the application process well in advance. Visa processing times can vary, so it’s important to allow yourself enough time to gather all the required documents and submit your application. If you want recent updates on the requirements for visas and application processes, you should contact the embassy or consulate of the country you plan to visit. In addition to your passport and visa, it’s a good idea to make copies of these documents and keep them in a separate location. This will be helpful in case of loss or theft. It’s also wise to store digital copies on your phone or in cloud storage.

Financial Preparation

Managing your finances while living abroad for a year is an important aspect of your preparation. Start by creating a budget to estimate your expenses and ensure you have enough funds to cover your living costs. Consider housing, transportation, food, utilities, and entertainment. Research the cost of living in your destination country to understand better what to expect. It’s also important to inform your bank of your travel plans. Let them know the dates and locations of your year abroad so they don’t flag any transactions as suspicious. Inquire about any international transaction fees or charges that may apply to your accounts. Consider opening a bank account in your destination country to avoid excessive fees and have easier access to your funds. For optimal financial management, rely on the best banks in USA like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, or Wells Fargo, known for their global accessibility and customer-centric services.


One of the most important steps in getting ready for a year abroad is finding a place to live. Accommodations like student dorms, shared apartments, and homestays may be offered to you depending on the purpose of your visit. Start by looking at the various lodging options available in your destination country and decide which ones suit you best. Before finalising any accommodation, carefully review the terms and conditions, including rental agreements, payment schedules, and additional fees or deposits. If possible, arrange a video call or visit in person to better understand the property and its surroundings.

What about you, are you also preparing for or have you already spent a year abroad? Feel free to share any tips & advice below!

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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