Heading abroad on the adventure of a lifetime is exciting, inspiring and… nerve-wracking! It’s okay to have some butterflies in your stomach, matter of fact, it would be weird if you didn’t. To reduce the chance of a full blown anxiety-stress-freak-out, we recommend that you have all travel preparations smashed out pre-departure.
As well as being completely zen before you even leave, being prepared to travel pre-departure will make your time in-country a more successful experience, reduce potential risks, and increase the positive impact you make on your host community.
So, where do you begin…?!?! Well, this article is a great start. I’ll guide you through some necessary travel preparations to make before you depart on your experience abroad.
Set smart (S.M.A.R.T) goals
Before you decide on a destination, program, or volunteer project, it’s a great idea to set goals and achievements to work toward throughout your journey. It may seem silly, but it’s a very important step in making early travel preparations in order to guarantee the success of your time abroad!
The concept of a S.M.A.R.T goal is comprehensive and super-simple to create:
S – Specific: Your goals should be well defined and clear.
M – Measurable: Is you goal obtainable and how is success measured?
A – Achievable: Set goals that are realistic and can be achieved in the available time frame.
R – Relevant: Goals should be relevant to the task at hand – in this case, your travel journey.
T – Time-based or trackable: Set yourself a deadline, and hold yourself to it.
Goals can be aimed toward personal growth, professional development or specific to the work that you are planning to do. Struggling to start your goal setting? Begin by reflecting on your motivations for traveling/volunteering/interning abroad and listing five of them. You will see a theme emerge from these motivations and goals should evolve naturally.
I find that a stunning piece of stationary helps ward off the goal-setting procrastination, buying a journal or diary specifically for your trip helps kick off the journey and your excitement. Use this journal as you make travel preparations, and during your trip abroad, to document important information, ideas, bucket lists and to revert back to your goals when you need to.
By the end of your adventure you will have a great resource full of all your memories – not to mention, journaling is a great boredom buster while traveling (especially in-transit) when, more often than not, you can’t rely on Netflix to get you through.
Endorse your travel — get certified!
There is no better way to prepare yourself for your adventure abroad than to up-skill by completing a certification course. With the boom of online-learning courses there are many options for furthering yourself from the comfort of your own home pre-departure and, bonus, they are affordable!
Brush Up on Your Lovely Language Skills
Learning key phrases of a new language is a crucial travel preparation and one that is often put to the wayside. At the minimum, you should know how to say these phrases in the local language…
- My name is…
- Where is / where are…?
- How much?
Begin practicing before you leave home by using language apps, podcasts, watching movies, using the language in conversation with friends and family or by attending a physical or online language class. The best way to learn is through practice, so make sure that once you are at your destination you put your language skills into real-life situations, be brave and habla alto!
Check Out a TEFL Course
If you are heading abroad to volunteer in childcare or teaching abroad then it pays to enroll in a TEFL course. A TEFL course will prepare you with practical methods and skills to teach a classroom of children or adults confidently and effectively. A TEFL certification will also put you in good stead for a paid ESL teaching job either at home or abroad.
One thing you might forget, bring a match anywhere because you might need it in an emergency. Many people have ignored this trifle on their vacation trips. bring a USB lighter because it is very safe and practical to carry anywhere.