Well, here you are, planning your world trip. What else should you consider besides what was discussed last week? We talked about real estate: renting, leaving your home unoccupied, or selling your home and handling the storage of your possessions. Here are a few more points for consideration:
PASSPORTS, VISAS, MAIL, BANKING
Make sure your passport expiry date extends at least six months after your planned trip return. Check with the last countries on your itinerary for their requirements. Some countries may not allow entry if you have less than three months time left on your passport.
Visas, and I do not mean your credit card, are required for some countries. These formal documents give you permission to enter a country. There are many different types of visas; tourist visas usually are for limited periods of tourist travel. Many countries have reciprocal agreements set up for travel between the two countries. Check on the internet for each country you wish to visit for their requirements. Visa costs vary from country to country. For example, citizens of Canada and the United States need a visa for Brazil. It must be used within ninety days of issue and is good for five years. In theory this visa takes five days to process, but allow around a month. Visa processing companies can assist, for a fee.
If you are planning on extensive travel and are vacating your regular accommodation, rent a post office box so your mail can be sent to a safe, independent location. Prices vary; a small size costs from $72.00 US from the US Postal Service and $118.00 from Canada Post per year. There are private services available also in most medium to large size cities. Rent your post box several months in advance. As mail arrives at your current address, change it to your new post box address and keep track to ensure the new information is activated. As it is easy to overlook important documentation that is mailed irregularly, be especially aware of insurance documents, government income tax correspondence, property tax, investment and pension information.
If you settle down at one spot for a month or so, you can have your mail forwarded to you. My post office charges $10.00 for mail forwarded two times a month, plus postage. It is possible to reduce your mail considerably by receiving bills on-line. Instruct your post-box provider not to send weekly grocery flyers or junk mail.
Open an account at an international bank. While quite a decision for some people with long-term banking relationships, it does make sense. You may have an excellent relationship with Lower Elkjaw Community Bank, but, think about it: you are not in Kansas anymore. Use your Internet search engine to find large international banks. Check online to see if the bank has branches in the countries you are planning to visit this trip and for future travels. Discuss your plans with potential banks and determine if their services will meet your needs. If possible, have a person designated to handle any problems that may arise.
While some might argue this is unnecessary in this on-line world, having an international bank can provide extensive benefits. For example, if you are in a third world country you can speak with bank representatives in the local branch of the country about your account, rather than attempting to contact your bank by telephone during different time zones, or have another bank intervene on your behalf, at a cost. If you are a bank customer rather than a third-party bank affiliate, chances are you will receive more assistance. Internal communication with the foreign bank branch and your local branch should be simplified.
If you plan to stay in one country for a few months, or work around the world, having an international bank makes even more sense. Check requirements for opening a local account in your destination country with your international bank. For example, you might need a police report from your country or letters from your home branch. This can be done at home before you leave and will allow you to access your money in the local currency when you get there. Plan, plan, plan.
“Banking relationships” can have benefits. The relationships are a euphemistic way of saying that you move some or all of your assets such as registered pensions plans, term deposits or other investments to your new bank. If you have a significant financial relationship with your international bank, you are assigned a personal banker and have direct access to management personnel around the world.
Automate your monthly deposits and payments. You will not have to deal with time zones and possible lack of internet connectivity over month end. You can also activate an on-line brokerage account if you are an active trader. Again, get your systems running smoothly well before you leave. You can always keep your current bank account as well.
Obtain credit cards and establish a line of credit, secured, or unsecured, which you can draw on for emergencies. This way you do not need to load your credit card with cash if you are off to a faraway country where cash is king. It is an excellent idea to establish your lines of credit while you are still working. Also have credit cards with the two major providers, so if one is not working you still have options.
Mahara Sinclaire, M.Ed.
© Mahara Sinclaire, 2007