Starting Life as a “Global Citizen?”
Having no specific residence and living at different times of the year in multiple countries can be a great way to motivate yourself to achieve more international travel. However, it also presents all kinds of logistical challenges others do not have to deal with.
Let’s look at what it takes to become a true global citizen:
Health Considerations Before Moving Abroad
Health is probably the number one concern that you will have with the large amount of international travel you’ll be doing. Always check in with the Centers for Disease Control website in order to find out about health warnings in any area where you will be spending a significant amount of time.
Global health insurance from International Insurance can help you in your journey, but it is important to understand what kind of health care is available in each country. In countries where expat communities are well-developed, expat-focused care can be somewhat better than local care but is also much more expensive.
Become aware of your health care options, ensure that you stay up to date on any needed inoculations, and focus on preventative care in the first one or two years of your new lifestyle. It will also help if you can cultivate healthy eating habits: In many countries, local approaches to food can be instructive.
Finding a Place to Live Abroad
Choosing a place to live relies on many factors, including the local culture, the laws on taxation, property, and residence, and whether you will be able to connect with a local expat enclave. In the first year of your journey, being able to talk to others with a similar background can help you navigate your new surroundings.
It is a good idea to consult with a tax planner and attorney when you are looking at what countries you might visit and how long you will stay; these experts will help you maximize your gains and minimize trouble. Also be aware of language barriers and how much effort you are willing to put into language study; it is difficult to get along in many countries without basic language skills.
Safety in a Global World
Safety is of paramount importance when you have a distributed, global lifestyle. In many countries, most crime, except for petty scams and theft, does not involve tourists. However, once you plan to stay for a longer period of time, it becomes very important to understand your surroundings like a local does.
You can take a multifaceted approach to this. Start with forums on the Internet that can help you connect with locals and long-term visitors. Get in touch with a real estate agent who speaks your language and specializes in your area of interest; even if you are not interested in the property, you can get a feel for a region, a city, or a neighborhood.
Also look at the “big picture.” Countries that may seem stable on the surface could be more dangerous than they look. Go online to review travel warnings from the Department of State to see if you feel comfortable with the present situation. Also study the nation’s politics and culture to understand how likely conflict may be.
Keeping in Touch as a Global Citizen
Keeping in touch can be challenging depending on the telecommunications structures of your host country. In many countries, you will be able to easily acquire prepaid phone cards for calling friends and family, but these can be expensive.
If your host country provides high-quality Internet service, then you should consider looking into voice-over-IP programs that will allow you to contact others abroad without having to spend money on prepaid cards or an expensive phone.
If you have plenty of room in your budget, a satellite phone can allow you to connect with your loved ones across multiple countries most easily, but it is typically very expensive.
Within a few “cycles” of traveling multiple countries, you will become used to some of the major quirks of each one. However, some things may take longer or may never feel quite “right.”
There are several ways to stave off culture shock, but be warned about sticking to the familiar too much. It’s a good idea to stay in touch with friends and family and to cultivate friendships among local expats, but this will not get you used to the local culture any faster.
Immerse yourself in local media, including newspapers and television. If there is a language barrier, start your practice with basic information, committing yourself to speak with local people every day. They will often be glad to practice their English in return.
Also avoid familiar chain restaurants and look for opportunities to “eat like a local,” assuming safe and sanity conditions, of course. This alone will go a long way toward helping to shift your mindset.
One of my goals as head of International Insurance is to help people reach beyond what they know and challenge themselves to learn more about the world while doing it in safety. Once you’ve mastered some basic logistics, I think you’ll find that the adventure is worth it.