Checklist for an Expat


The Ultimate Checklist for planning any Travel or an Expatriation

You can easily find millions tips online about how to organize your short or long-term Travel or about an expatriation. It’s exciting but it can be overwhelming when you start to realize your adventure. I’ve tried to make a comprehensive checklist for all of you whatever is your purpose ! This is based on my experience so it can be different for each of you.

From the moment you make your decision until your are comfortably seat in the plane, here my tips :

Why are you taking this trip or an expatriation?

What is the purpose of your trip/expatriation ? Do you want to be volunteer? Is travelling sustainably your top priority? Do you want to move to a single place, work and become an expat? Are you interested in a particular culture or region?

Do your homework.

One of the most exciting stages of planning for travels/expatriation is researching the destinations you want to travel to. Read guidebooks, blogs… for inspiration. It’ll confort your choice by reading others experiences. You also can ask question to your friends or the community of travelers. We always enjoy to help !

Estimate the cost of your trip and create a budget.

Based on the length of your trip (even for an expatriation !) and the type of experience you want to have.

Take into account flights, transport, accommodation, food, tours and sightseeing. Doing this early will help you to save enough for your trip.

Create a monthly budget based on how much you need to save. Start to cut out unnecessary spending and keep track of all of your expenses. You also can take an extra job to save as much as you can.

Always make sure to have a « security » amount of money if something wrong happened. It’s so easy to run without money while you’re traveling or even want to be an expat.

Choose a departure date.

It’s time to take stock and evaluate your savings. Are you ready to set a departure date? If you have been finding it difficult to stick to your budget, it might be a good idea to delay your departure. If you’re doing well, it’s time to set the date!

Start the doctor/check-in appointment.

Visit your doctor as early as possible to discuss your travel plans and seek advice as to which immunizations you need. It’s important to do this early as some shots are done in a series and you may need at least six months between them.

In the months leading up to your departure, book appointments with your dentist, optometrist, gynecologist any other health professional you need to see. Fill all of your prescriptions and obtain letters for any medication you’ll be taking with you. (If you are French, start a stock of Doliprane!)


If you don’t have a passport, it’s time to apply for one. If you already have one, now is a good time to ensure that there is enough validity on it to last the entirety of your trip and that you have enough room left for all those new stamps you’ll be collecting.

Book your flights. (or only one-way!)

Look at your itinerary and research all the different flight possibilities for your trip. If you’re flexible, you might be able to save quite a lot of money. Play around with the airports you’ll fly into and out of, your travel dates as well as the airline.

Solidify your itinerary.

Once you’ve booked your flights, it’s time to set a more specific itinerary built around the ‘must-do’ items on your travel list. Think about which experiences you’ll do first and which route you’ll take to get to the next ones.

Apply for a visa (if needed).

Take the time to research whether any visas are required for any of the countries you’ll be travelling to. You want to avoid any bad situations like being stuc kat the customs. I would say VISAS are one of the most important thing while traveling especially if you want to be an Expat.

Inform your Landlord / Roomates.

If your flat is under lease, give as much notice to your Landlord about the date you intend to move out. If you break the lease, there may be some financial repercussions, but the earlier you make your intentions clear, the easier it will be. In France, you only have to inform your landlord 3 months before your departure.

Start to sell your stuff on Craiglist.

Selling some of your unwanted belongings will not only help you save a little bit extra for your trip, but it also means you have less stuff to move or store!

Set cancellation dates for your contracts.

It’s time to start thinking about scheduling the cancellation of contracts such as your mobile phone or internet…. Remember that you always need to give a certain period of notice!

Re-direct your mail.

If you’ve been living in your own apartment, you’ll need to re-direct your mail while you’re travelling. Giving your parents’ mail address is one of the best options.

Shop for appropriate gear to take with you.

Depending on where you are travelling to and the kinds of activities you will be doing, it’s important to plan in advance to bring the necessary gear. However, before to leave France for Canada, I decided to buy all my winter stuff in the country : I saved room in my luggage and I’ve found gear in Canada was more adapted than in France.

Get a travel money card.

It’s time to think about how you’ll be managing your finances overseas. One of the best options is a Travel Money Card which enables you to preload it with a foreign currency and connect it to your internet banking. Talk to your bank to discuss options.

Of course if you want to be an expat, you will have to open an account in the country where you are living.

Purchase travel insurance.

Travel insurance is one of the most important things to remember when planning any kind of travel. Things can and do go wrong and if you are not insured sufficiently, it could ruin your trip. If you’re going to be taking part in adventure activities, make sure that you specify this on your insurance policy.

For Canada, it was not possible to get the visa without a Travel insurance. I would say all the Working Holiday Visa require a Travel insurance.

Give notice to your employer.

You need to make a decision about how you’re going to approach your employer about your travel plans. This can be tricky. If you want to keep your job, you might ask for an unpaid leave of absence. If you don’t want to keep your job, you’ll need to resign. Maybe your work contract was a temporary one which makes things easier. Make sure you give the required number of weeks notice (3 months in France), be professional and don’t burn any bridges even if you think you would not come back in your country before a while!

Notify your bank that you’re travelling.

Inform them of your travel plans before you leave so that they won’t see your foreign transactions as unauthorised.

Scan your important documents.

Scan your passport, visa, driver’s licence and any other important documents. You can put the copies in Dropbox to make sure to be able to get whenever you need them.

If you happen to lose your original documents, the scanned copies will make your life a whole lot easier when trying to sort out replacements.

Write a packing list.

Packing for long-term travel can be very overwhelming. Get everything out of your head and onto paper by creating a packing list. Carry it around with you wherever you go so that when you think of extra things you need, you can easily add it on the go.

Order some foreign currency.

It’s always a good idea to have some local currency already in your purse when you touch down. Don’t exhange money at the airport, it’s the worst exchange rate.

Farewell party!

It’s such a great time and you will remember it for a long time! Personaly, I used this « party » to give away extra clothes or furniture I couldn’t sell ! My friends were pretty happy, I guess!

Eat your favourite meals.

You’re probably not going to have a home-cooked meal for a while, so use this last week to request all of your favourite, comforting meals that you’re going to miss when you’re gone. Especially as Cheese, Bread, Charcuterie, Croissants and lots of Wine…

Go to the airport early enough.

By this stage you will be anxious enough already without the added stress of running late. Get yourself to the airport nice and early to avoid rushing through check-in, immigration and security. Relax, you’re almost leaving !

Board your plane: Jet. Set. Go!

The moment has finally arrived! Board your plane and get set for your huge adventure! Enjoy. Have fun. Live your dreams !

And you, what are your travel tips before the big departure? Are you an expat ?

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Cécile lives in Chicago though is originally from southern France. She’s an avid traveler and is always excited by new adventures. After living in Ireland, Australia and Canada, Cécile is an advocate of having a routine but not staying comfortable for too long.



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