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The paperwork has been handled, the jobs have been secured, the schools have been chosen, and the air tickets have been bought. You’re well on your way to leaving South Africa in search of a new life, greener pastures, and all the excitement of a completely new environment. What’s next? Ah, the actual trip! Expats emigrating often underestimate just how gruelling a long-distance trip can be, especially with kids. Getting from South Africa to a foreign country can take umpteen hours or even days. How prepared you are (or aren’t) will have a direct bearing on how enjoyable the experience is and how you feel when you reach the other side.

Tips: Traveling Abroad for the First Time

If you’re in need of some tips for traveling abroad for the first time, you have come to the right place. In our 10 years of experience in the industry, we have shared and discussed many international travel tips, luggage packing tips, and tips for international flights survival with many of our customers. Today, we are going to share these expat travel tips with you.

Tips: Things to do Before You Leave

You probably have a rough idea in your mind of the things you need to do, but here’s just a simple reminder.

  • Make a to-do list (a packing list is also quite important).
  • Ensure that you have a letter of employment confirmation and contract abroad in place.
  • Ensure all family member passports and visas are in order.
  • Confirm all flight bookings and try to book convenient seats. If you have kids, seats near the bathroom or the very back of the plane are most convenient.
  • Make a list of favourite snacks (especially if you have kids) – there might be times on board when you just want to snack without ordering something – and ensure that you pack them.
  • Double check all arrangements with your removals company.
  • If you are traveling with pets, make sure that you are aware of their inoculations due and possible quarantine times on the other side.

Tips: Packing for International Travel

Luggage packing tips are probably the most valuable travel tips that expats share. Of course, money is tight when relocating to a new country, but that’s not all that’s tight! Baggage allowances with the airlines are also quite tight. It’s hard to pack light when you are moving to a completely new country, but of course you should try your best to get as much into your luggage as possible without incurring extra costs. Below are a few top luggage packing tips by expats who have already made the trip.

  • Be brutal with your personal possessions list:
    Get rid of all items that aren’t essential and can be easily replaced in your new country.
  • Pack right:
    Familiarise yourself with the items that are allowed on board and only allowed in checked luggage. You don’t want to make it all the way to security check points and then be made to unpack your bags.
  • Pack all liquids, creams, soaps into your checked-in luggage:
    Anything over 100ml of liquid/cream cannot be taken on board.
  • Keep chargers close by:
    Ensure that USB cell phone chargers are in your hand luggage and not your check-in luggage.
  • Roll all clothing items up tightly:
    This will help you to fit more clothing items into your bags.
  • Vacuum pack clothing if you can:
    This will compress things even more, leaving more room in your bags for packing.
  • Pack smart to save space:
    Store socks and undies inside your shoes in your bags.
  • Be security conscious:
    To avoid items going missing from your bags, shrink wrap the bag at the airport.
  • Keep important items on hand:
    Pack your travel documents, a book, a toothbrush, hand sanitizer, and an empty water bottle into your carry-on luggage. These will prove very handy while on a long-distance trip.

Tips: International Flights (with and without kids)

When it comes to international travel tips, it really comes down to the specific situation that the traveller is in. For this reason, this section is split into 2 parts: surviving international flights with kids and surviving international flights without kids.

Surviving International Flights with Kids

If you are heading quickly towards a long haul international flight with kids, you probably have fear struck into your heart already. Don’t worry, hundreds and thousands of other expats have done it before you…and with just a few tips, you can do it too. Below are a few tips to surviving an international trip with kids.

  • Be a night-flight owl:
    Nighttime flights have well timed meals to take up some of the time and because it’s part of your child’s regular bed time schedule, you stand a higher chance of them sleeping right through a chunk of the flight.
  • Arm yourself…with entertainment:
    The plane will offer movies on board, but is that really enough? Nope, definitely not. Pack one favourite toy for each kid and stash colouring in books, story books, puzzles and other bits and bobs that the kids typically enjoy on a rainy day at home.
  • Pack a snack-attack:
    Of course, you don’t want to get the kids revved up on sugar, so choose snacks wisely. The more they eat on board, the busier they will be and the more they will be distracted. And you know what they say about tummies being full and the naps that soon follow.
  • Become pro digital device use:
    Take those digital devices along with you – yep, mobile phone, tablet, iPad – anything that’s digital. Make sure that there are colourful and fun apps and programs installed, ready to capture your child’s attention for hours.
  • Spoil yourself in the name of convenience:
    If you have accumulated airline miles, splurge on them for better seats – you will absolutely never regret this.
  • Let the kids run wild:
    Tire the kids out before the flight. The airport is the best place to get the kids tired and ready for a nap. Go for brisk walks, let them run around, and get them chatting as much as possible.

Surviving International Flights without Kids

If you aren’t traveling with kids, the entire experience will be different for you. It might be easier, but you also might be sitting right next to someone with kids! Here are a few tips for surviving an international flight.

  • Drink and drink some more:
    No, you don’t need to get drunk, but you should certainly hydrate. Make sure that you ask for water on board the flight and stay hydrated. Often it is dehydration and tiredness on the other side that makes “jet lag” feel a lot more severe.
  • Block the world out:
    Invest in a good set of noise-cancelling headphones or earphones. Chances are that you will want to block out the sound of someone’s child crying or people nattering away through the night.
  • Get comfy:
    Take a neck pillow so that you can nap, even if you end up in the middle seat between 2 strangers.
  • Binge watch & read:
    Take a good book or kindle along with you and be open to watching the on board content. The more you distract from the situation, the quicker the time will pass.
  • Dress for comfort:
    Dress comfortably and layer your clothing. If you are traveling abroad, you might be going from cold into warm or warm into cold climates. Make sure that you layer your outfit accordingly and are as comfy as possible for the flight.
  • Plan a nap:
    Consider using a sleep aid. Don’t knock yourself out, but taking something to help you sleep might help the hours slip away quickly.

Hopefully these few tips can help you to prepare for your upcoming international trip.

FinGlobal: Tax Emigration & Financial Emigration specialists

While you are undoubtedly focused on planning and preparing for your upcoming trip, you have probably given little thought to your financial and tax emigration in SA and the new country you are headed to. At FinGlobal, with 10 years of experience behind us, we provide premier advice and guidance to expats the world over. If you need assistance processing your tax emigration and financial emigration from South Africa, contact us. Simply give us a call or send us an email today.