Travel Abroad: Planning your trip

  Chapter

Planning & Period

  • When you are planning a trip it is important to know what is the best time to visit a specific country. It can be pretty disappointing to find out that it is actually rainy season, while you planned to spend a few weeks on a sunny tropical beach. When it is winter north of the equator, it is summer on the other side. The summer is not automatically the best time to visit certain areas. In short, when to go can be quite a complicated matter. When you are going to your dream destination make sure to check the weather and other conditions during the time of your visit!

General remarks & advice

  • Often the rainy season in a tropical country is not as harmful as it seems (Indonesia, Thailand). Most of the time the weather is fine, unless you are very unlucky. Look for a destination where the weather differs per region, so that you can always escape from the rain.
  • Watch out for places that are known for extreme weather circumstances. Natural phenomenons such as hurricanes and cyclones are usually not a lot of fun.
  • If you are going scuba diving, make sure that during the time your visit the sea is not to rough, so that the visibility is clear.
  • In some areas it is important to be aware of common diseases, such as malaria and dengue, which are being spread during specific weather or seasons.
  • Going to Africa to see some wildlife? Make sure you plan your trip when the wildlife parks are open. You do not want to find out that the park is closed when you already in Tanzania.
  • Some places can be a lot of fun to visit during special events, such as carnival in Brasil, a mid-summer night party in Scandinavia etc. Sometimes it is better to avoid certain events. Try, for instance, to find a restaurant that is open during the Ramadan in a Muslim country.
  • Unfortunately our climate is changing, so you cannot completely rely on the information that is available. It happens more and more that locals tell you that it is the first time in thirty years that it is raining this early in the season or that they don’t understand where all the clouds are coming from.
  • People have different opinions about the best time to visit a specific region. Some people like to go to a place when it is 40 degrees Celsius, while other people already think 20 degrees Celsius is too hot.
  • Be aware of the difference between minimum and maximum temperatures. The minimum temperature in San Francisco in the summer is 12 degrees and the average temperature is 18 degrees. This means that in the evening you will need a sweater.
  • Be aware of height. Ecuador is a tropical country, but the capital Quito lies 3.000 meters above sea level. This means that it can be very warm during the day, but very chilly in the evening.
  • The temperature of the sea water can be much colder than the temperature of the air. The weather in Tunisia might be OK in February or March, but swimming can be very unpleasant at that time of the year.

How much time you need to visit a certain regions or countries

  • For most travelers the answer to this question depends on their school, university, job, family, friends etc. The only question that really matters for them is how much time you need to visit a certain regions or countries. For people who are traveling for a few months or longer, there are some extra factors to take into consideration:
    • When does the travel tiredness strike? (the moment you are fed up with all those amazing temples)
    • What can you do to avoid travel tiredness?
    • When becomes traveling a "race"?
    • How long does it take to travel over land though a certain continent?

A week to two weeks

  • In recent years it has become much easier to take a shorter/in between break/holiday to a far away destination: you can go by car to Italy to go skiing (depending on where you are coming from). Cheap tickets are also available to countries in the Mediterranean sea and even to some Caribbean Islands. The downside of these cheap last minutes is that people run the risk of arriving at a destination where the water is freezing cold, temperatures are low or heavy rainfall spoils your stay.
  • Depending on the flight time the following destinations are suitable for a short holiday:
  • Between November and April/May: Sri Lanka, Maldives, Gambia/Senegal, Zanzibar, Goa, Caribbean Islands, Florida, Bali, Thailand and Mexico.
  • The temperature is not as stable but the Canary Islands, Jordan or the Red Sea (scuba diving) also great places for a one or two week holiday.

Three to four weeks

  • The best time to explore and get familiar with a country or a large part of a country is somewhere between three to four weeks. Even most “world” travelers do not stay much longer in a particular area. In three or four weeks you can easily travel around, visit a few cities and still have some time to relax and take it easy. Try to avoid areas where it will take up to 3 days to travel from one highlight to another.
  • The best destinations for three to four weeks on holiday are: Ecuador, Peru/Bolivia, Guatemala/Honduras, Southern Africa, China, Tibet, North India, Nepal, South India, Thailand, Malaysia, parts of Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, the US West Coast.

From a few months to a year

  • How long should your world trip take? Do you need a year or is a month or four months sufficient? Of course this depends on your travel plan and your budget. In practice not many people manage to do a proper around-the-world trip in a year. Due to limited resources or time most world travelers will have to skip large parts of the world. If you would like to make a trip from Australia to India through South East Asia to India and China it is possible to do this in three to five months. When you do this you spend just as long in one country as it takes other world travelers to travel several continents.
  • Skipping expensive countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and North America, is a good way to save money, so that you can stay away for a longer time. The more time you have for your trip the easier it will be to change your plans completely or stay at one place for a longer period without ruining your plans.
  • When you are traveling for less than three months you probably don’t need an expensive travel insurance, tickets will be cheaper, it is easier and quicker to save the money for your trip and it will be much easier to fit into your study schedule or work.

Travel Times – overview

Asia

  • North Thailand: the best time is from November to February, least favorable seasons are from April to September. During the latter period South East Thailand is the best place to visit as well as the South.
  • South Thailand: best time to visit is March to May.
  • Laos: best time to visit is from November to February.
  • Myanmar(Burma): best time to visit is from November to February.
  • Indonesia: relatively calm weather, no extreme seasons.
  • Malaysia: only from November to January the weather is not as good as the rest of the year.
  • Himalaya: Eastern India: best from April to November.
  • Nepal and Western India: best time to visit October to December and February to April.
  • Tibet: best time to visit May to October. From November to March it can be (too) cold and there can be a lot of snow.
  • Mongolia: best time to visit from May to October.
  • China: best time to visit March/April and September/October.

Latin America

  • The Andes (Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru): from June to September is the best time to visit, but this area is accessible during the whole year.
  • Bolivia: December to April in the Andes is the best. In the Amazon you will then be bothered by the mud, insects and other inconveniences.
  • Peru: it is better to avoid the months December to April when you want to visit Machu Picchu/Cuzco. The Amazon: May-July are the “best” times for a visit. From December to April it will rain even more than is usually does. During the rainy season in the Peruvian Amazon it rains two times a day on average, but in between the showers the weather will be fine.
  • Iguazu Falls: December-April is the best time for a visit.
  • Central America: best time to travel is from December to April/May, after these months the rainy season begins. Countries with nicer weather during these months are: Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.

Africa

  • Southern Africa: April-September are the best for visiting. For Cape Town and the surrounding areas November-March are the best times to visit.
  • Eastern Africa: June to October is the best time for visiting, followed by December to February.
  • West Africa: November - December are the best time to visit.
  • The best times to visit the wild parks in Southern Africa are in the European (late) summer (during the dry season the animals will come out to the drinking spots where you can see them) but there are other good periods for a visit.

Middle-East

  • During the summer it can get very hot, but the other seasons the weather is usually fine.
  • Be aware that in winter the northern part can become ice cold and in the south it can get surprisingly cool.

Europe

  • Northern Europe: countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany are quite cold and humid to visit during the period November-March. These months are, however, ideal for skiing activities (In Switzerland, Austria etc.). April-September is a very pleasant time for traveling throughout Europe, as temperatures do not tend to be very high.
  • Southern Europe, including countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, France and Portugal, has a pleasant climate with sunny days throughout the year, although the summer months July and August can be unpleasantly warm on some days.

North America

  • Canada and Alaska can be very cold and dark during the period November-March. The period outside these months would be more suitable to visit these countries, but since it concerns such a wide area, there are a lot of regional differences.
  • The United States also varies per region, but in general has cold winters, hot summers and mild fall and spring seasons. The south can be very humid with sporadic rainfall and has two subtropical seasons, contrary to most states.
  • Mexico has a wet and a dry season, with warm and humid weather throughout the year. Mexico also has a hurricane season lasting from June through November.
Emigration & Living abroad

Emigration & Living abroad

What are reasons to move abroad?

What are reasons to move abroad?

  • You may be unhappy with all the green spaces disappearing to make room for new houses, the lack of jobs or with society as a whole, that doesn’t always mean emigration is the solution of choice. General dissatisfaction about one’s life and role in society can sometimes be tackled by moving to another part of the country or choosing a more meaningful, satisfying or charitable career.
  • Moving abroad doesn’t necessarily have to do with being fed up with everything that’s happening in your own country but it can be a factor in people’s decision to turn their backs on the home country for pastures new. Temporarily or indefinitely.

Reasons to move abroad at a glance

  • Wanting to leave your home country;
  • Economic circumstances & employment situation;
  • The wish to see more of the world, chasing adventure and that long cherished dream;
  • Improving one’s quality of life;
  • To be able to spend more time with friends and family;
  • Following your heart;
  • Personal development;
  • Security both personal and economic.
What are reasons to (temporarily) postpone the big move?

What are reasons to (temporarily) postpone the big move?

Despite the large number of people actually taking the leap and emigrating to another country, there’s another big group that postpones the move. Sometimes indefinitely. What are their reasons?

  • Selling their house proves more difficult than anticipated resulting in a lack of financial means which then throws a spanner in the works;
  • Finding a job or other means of making ends meet is proving slow and difficult;
  • Obtaining the correct documentation such as a work or residence permit or medical papers takes longer than expected;
  • The nuts and bolts of handing over to your successor or signing over your company to a new owner is more time consuming than anticipated;
  • A local qualification course, training or education has not yet been completed;
  • Significant life events of your nearest and dearest, such as the birth of a child, kids moving into a new home or health issues of close family members, prevent you from packing up just yet.

 

All those reasons not to go, postponing the big leap. People trying to convince me to stay. In the end, I followed my guts and managed to, albeit with heavy heart, leave everyone and everything behind. A tough decision at the time, but one I’m incredibly happy with at present.

- Colombia emigrant

 

In hindsight, I’m really happy I got to give both my parents the palliative care they needed and deserved. It wasn’t until both passed on that my emigration plans came to full fruition. It saved them unnecessary heartache but it definitely also did me a lot of good.

- Canada emigrant

 

There have been some heated discussions. My husband wants to emigrate sooner rather than later but we agreed we’d stay put until both our kids had graduated. I’m happy that despite the disagreements, we’ve always kept communicating. My husband now spends intermittent time in Portugal to prepare the house and get it ready for us to move in but we won’t move until everyone is ready.

- Portugal emigrant

 

When our emigration plans started to take shape, all three of our children were still in school. Now we’re just waiting for our daughter to take her final exams. After that, she’s off to college and will move into student accommodation. We’ll give her a few months to settle in and then we’re finally ready for the big move. One of our dear family friends will act as a back-up parent once we’ve left. Because of the cheap flights from Portugal, we’ll be able to come over frequently to make sure our kids are doing well and they’ll be able to jump on a flight whenever they want to see us.

- Portugal emigrant

 

What proved difficult at times, is that not just long term but also mid-term planning was put on hold. Every decisions seemed to have an effect on our prospective move. Should we fix that wall in our temporary home, take a pet, do some work on the garden, buy study materials for next year? It all caused quite a bit of turmoil.

- Australia emigrant

 

Changes of finding employment via traditional routes is slim to none. It’s all about your network. So now whilst still working in my country, I make regular visit to Madeira to network, meet people and build and maintain contacts. I learn a lot, specifically from other immigrants who already life and work in Portugal. It won’t be long ‘till I’ll follow suit!

- Portugal emigrant

Is emigration for life?

Is emigration for life?

Technically speaking

Technically it’s usually a no as you can always return to your country of birth. However, it does depend on the country, your citizenship status, your parents’ citizenship and the local rules and regulations concerning emigration.

Psychologically speaking

Matters of the mind can never be as strict as forever.

  • People’s decisions are hardly ever irrevocable as we’re generally inclined to and need (regular) change in our lives.
  • If you’re being relocated by your employer, it usually implies a temporary arrangement from which you’ll either be send to another country or brought back home.
What to consider when emigrating with children?

What to consider when emigrating with children?

  • In most cases, children come along when their parents emigrate.
  • If your children are still babies or toddlers, moving them should not cause too much instability. Their trusted family unit stays intact and external factors are not yet as important.
  • Most children between around eight to ten years old are at a relatively stable developmental stage and will therefore adapt fairly easily to their new environment.
  • For teenagers however, a big move can be rather unsettling and can cause quite a bit of turbulence. They lose their friends, their school, their neighbourhood, sports club and everything they know.
  • Even though many emigrants feel their big move significantly enriched the life of their children, they do concede that it’s probably beneficial to settle in one place once children hit eleven or twelve.
  • Children with developmental or academic issues will have a much harder time settling in to their new environment. It could be beneficial to their development to stay in their own country.
  • If children stay behind, it’s important to first organise their living arrangements before making too advanced emigration plans. Once the children are settled, the next steps will be much smoother.
  • With older kids, late teens, consider postponing the big move until after children have left the parental home and have set up their own home.
How to prepare your emigration financially?

How to prepare your emigration financially?

  • Take some time to consider the effect on your finances when planning a move abroad: create a financial plan.
  • Prepare an emigration budget, taking into consideration your current financial status and also make projections of different scenarios. See also “the cost of emigration”.
  • Research the economic situation in your new country. Are they financially stable, what about inflation, what’s the unemployment like, what is the cost of living?
  • Find out about banks, does your bank operate in this country? What’s the process of opening a bank account? Is there anything you can do now to speed things up? Do you need to hold on to your current account, set up online banking, organise international payment options and new credit cards?
  • Find a financial and tax consultant, preferably specialised in or with extensive knowledge of the country your moving to. Set up a financial plan including pension and future arrangements for your children’s education Find out about tax rules and regulations, even though your future employer may take care of most things.
  • Research local health care and health insurance arrangements. Is it beneficial to set up your own insurance? Are local health insurance packages sufficient? What are the local hospitals and GP surgeries like?
  • Research local and international insurance options such as homeowners, liability and legal expenses insurance.
  • Find out about protection against online and identity fraud. What are the risks, well known schemes and traps, internet safety, how secure are the banks and ATMs? Are your current precautions adequate?
  • Cancel any standing orders well before you leave and double check with your bank which ones are still active. Cancel contracts and check notice periods.
Expats and Emigrants Health Insurances

Expats and Emigrants Health Insurances

JoHo Insurances offer the best expat insurance packages from reputable international insurance companies.

International Expat Insurance

  • The International Expat Insurances Package consists of several essential coverages, designed in favour of expats and their family members. Professional assistance is offered worldwide when sickness, accident or even death occurs. Assistance is also available in case of loss of income. With this insurance you are completely free to get medical treatment in a hospital of your personal choice. This includes private hospitals.
  • Read more about International Expat Insurance

April MyHealth International

  • APRIL International Care France, an insurance intermediary, designs, distributes and manages insurance solutions and assistance services for individuals, travelers, expatriates and businesses.
  • Read more about April MyHealth International

Bupa Worldwide Health Options

  • Worldwide medical insurance is the essential core of this plan. It offers you the reassurance of coverage for any essential hospital treatment you may need in case of an emergency or for a planned visit. All surgery, cancer treatment and advanced imaging, regardless of whether this treatment is received whilst in hospital or visiting as a day-patient, are also covered.
  • Read more about Bupa Worldwide Health Options

Globality Health Yougenio

  • "Globality Health Yougenio is the international health insurer with a special focus on expatriates. For people who study, travel, and people living and/or working abroad. With more than 80 years of experience in health insurance, we provide our customers the convincing competence of an international network of assistance and service partners. As an integral part of Munich Health, with more than 5,000 experts at 26 locations, we offer healthcare solutions for clients and partners all over the world."
  • Read more about Globality Health Yougenio

Allianz International Health Insurance

  • The Allianz Worldwide Care International Health Insurance offers a comprehensive coverage for expatriates and their family with a choice of three different levels of cover.
  • There are several insurance plans you can choose from. In either way you need to choose one of the four Core plans. Allianz offers an optional deductible for the Core plan. This can be a very high deductible.
  • Read more about Allianz International Health Insurance

CIGNA International

  • CIGNA International Expatriate Benefits has more than 25 years’ experience and is the world's largest provider of employer-sponsored healthcare benefits. A comprehensive array of flexible products and funding options, coupled with simplified administration, provides coverage for expatriates around the world. And, like many of our customers, we have a local presence in many jurisdictions around the globe, which translates into first-hand knowledge of regional healthcare issues.
  • Read more about CIGNA International

    Or visit JoHoinsurances.org for more international insurance options and advice

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