Many of you have asked us, “What does it take to Go Global?” Well, to develop your business and expand your reach to a global audience can take a lot of time and hard work, but if you’re already in a place where you can work from anywhere, if you’ve negotiated a few months off for a “mini-retirement,” or if you’re lucky enough to have the expendable income, then simply getting on the road is a lot easier to do. After having done it ourselves—we’ve compiled a short list of just 18 items that will get you living the location-independent lifestyle in a matter of months. We owe a lot on this list to Timothy Ferriss‘ advice in The 4 Hour Workweek, but we’ve also tested and learned a lot from experience, and we’ve tried to bring it all together on one page for you. Hope you enjoy:
Going Global Countdown
- Do the research on your destination. Check out the current political affairs in the region and find out where the nearest US Embassy is in case of complications. You might also register your travel dates with the State Department in case of emergency or political turmoil. Check the Centers for Disease Control to determine if immunizations are required for your country of choice and get your hands on a copy of your immunization record (sometimes required at foreign customs).
- Make sure you have at least 6 months left on your valid passport or else renew your passport with the State Department. Apply for a visa for the duration of your stay in your target country and any other countries you may be traveling through for more than a layover.
- Downsize your stuff. Use Pareto Principle to start eliminating everything you don’t need (give yourself 3 months for this). From The 4 Hour Workweek: “What is the 20% of my belongings that I use 80% of the time? Eliminate the other 80% in clothing, magazines, books, and all else. Be ruthless—you can always repurchase things you can’t live without. Which belongings create stress in my life?…” Sell what you don’t need on sites like Craigslist and eBay, and it might help finance your plane ticket outta here!
- Look at adding extended overseas travel coverage to your existing health insurance plan, or else opt for an international plan and nix your current insurance when you leave (check out World Nomads). If you’ll be gone for a significant time, visit your doctor, dentist, eye doctor & so on and make sure to get prescriptions for the duration of your stay.
- Purchase your ticket, starting with a search on Kayak.com or Priceline. You’ll typically get the best rates when you book more than 3 months in advance, OR wait for the last 2 weeks before your departure. Look for a flight on a Tuesday or Wednesday (also typically the cheapest days of the week to fly) and then search up to 3 days in either direction to find the lowest price. Always get the flight insurance in case your plans change last minute. If you plan on traveling for a year, also consider a round-the-world (RTW) ticket.
- Automate your finances. Contact organizations that bill you regularly and let them know you’ll be abroad and need to set up automatic payments. Otherwise set up online banking and auto bill-pay to send scheduled payments (at least $15-20 more than you anticipate to cover the unexpected) to your vendors, utilities, or credit card companies, etc. Cancel paper statements and have your banks & credit cards start sending you online statements to your email inbox.
- At least 2 months in advance, give a trusted family member and/or your CPA power-of-attorney to sign important documents like tax filings and checks for you in your absence (sometimes they won’t accept a fax signature).
- Have the post office forward your mail to a trusted friend or assistant who can sort through the junk and scan/summarize the important mail for you. Or set up EarthClassMail or another mail forwarding service (see more good tips from Rolph Potts).
- Now is the time to take a technology dry run. If you need to be on the phone a lot, set up a free Skype account to make voice calls to other computer users around the world, and purchase SkypeOut credit to place direct calls to any cell phone or hard line around the globe for just 3 cents per minute (most locations). If you need remote access to your computer, try out GoToMyPC. Otherwise, consider setting up a portable office on your USB thumb drive that you can pop into any computer at the local internet café.
- Prepare your financial accounts. Depending on the nature of your work, you might want to set up a PayPal account if you don’t already have one, to accept payments from around the globe via credit card or direct bank transfer. If people still send you paper checks, it’s convenient to have an account with a large bank like Bank of America, with branches near the person assisting you with deposits. For international travel, most vagabonds recommend a reliable international bank like HSBC (which has locations in most major international cities around the globe).
- Consider hiring a virtual personal assistant (VA) if you don’t already have one. TimeSvr is a low-cost provider we use for many simple tasks during the month, such as phone calls, making reservations, quick travel searches, small research projects and article summaries. Also try AskSunday, Brickwork India, GetFriday, etc.
- Scan your passport, visas, identification, health insurance & credit/debit cards into a computer. Carry a few copies in separate bags with you and leave a few copies with a trusted family member. Email the scanned files to yourself so that you can access them from abroad if you lose the hard copies. If you plan on moving from country-to-country, it’s a wise idea to bring several photocopies of your passport and several 2×4 passport photos for your visa applications on the road.
- Downgrade to the cheapest cell phone plan or kill it altogether. Change your voicemail greeting to direct people to your email or Skype account. For instance, “Thanks for your call. I’m currently overseas on extended business travel. Please do not leave a voicemail message as I will not have access to check it while I am gone. If your message important, please contact me by email at ___@___.com. Thanks for your cooperation.” Then set up an email autoresponder to indicate your response could take several days (whatever your desired frequency) due to international travel.
- If you really feel the need to be reachable, then consider a quad-band or GSM-compatible cell phone with an international calling plan (most of these plans are horrible though). Alternatively, purchase a SkypeIn number so that your clients/family can dial a traditional phone # that will call your Skype account or forward to your foreign cell phone. (Also look at Vonage and GrandCentral.)
- Reserve a low cost hostel for your first few days abroad. For free accommodations check out GlobalFreeloaders or Couchsurfing. Hostel staff, fellow backpackers, and locals will be a helpful source of information for the best places to stay. Once you are in-country, check out the local Craigslist listings or do a Google search for apartments for rent (this is by far the most fun and cost-effective way to stay abroad). Additionally, Hospitality Club is a great site that lists locals who are willing to show you around, and Home Exchange is useful for those who want to swap homes with someone abroad for a few months!
- One week out, Tim Ferriss recommends setting a self-imposed schedule “for routine batched tasks such as email, online banking, etc. to eliminate excuses for senseless pseudo-work procrasterbating. I suggest Monday mornings for checking email and online banking. The first & third Mondays of the month can be used for checking credit cards and making other online payments such as affiliates.”
- Rent out or sell your home, or else end your apartment lease. If you don’t sell your car, follow Tim’s advice: “Put remaining automobiles into storage or a friend’s garage. Put fuel stabilizer in the gas tanks, disconnect the negative leads from batteries to prevent drain, and put the vehicles on jack stands to prevent tire and shock damage. Cancel all auto insurance except for theft coverage.”
- Put all the rest of your stuff you didn’t eliminate into storage. Pack a single backpack or carry-on bag and move in temporarily with family or friends for the last few days before departure. To pack light, it’s best to set aside a small “settling-in fund”—maybe $300 to purchase clothes and necessities at your destination. Here is Tim’s great pack-list from the 4 Hour Workweek blog.
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