Four tips for expats gleaned from long term travelers

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Published on 2021-01-20 at 09:00 by JerryANelson
The Internet and specialised expat guides definitely help in planning an international relocation. Still, having personalised tips can go a long way. Our guest blogger, Jerry Nelson, asked a couple of long term travellers.

Jeff Blix and his wife, Nancy, have closeted for the length of the pandemic. Like the rest of us, they have sheltered at home and become accustomed to Zoom, meals delivered at home and mask-wearing on the few occasions they took a walk around the block.

Now, with international travel easing restrictions, they are excited about their next vacation: a five-week road trip from Amherst, Massachusets to St. George Island, just a few miles into the Gulf from Florida's panhandle. Five weeks is an eternity compared to the average number of vacation days that Americans use for travel, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

But even with time away, they still have concerns about leaving home. What to do about the mail, home security, and their cat, Abigail? “We have a good friend who comes over twice a day to feed her and show her some love,” Jeff said. “It's hard to be away from her for five weeks, but we have to live our life when we can. Right?”

Some are pushing the travel limits even further — especially since the pandemic has freed them up to work remotely. Crossing national borders, and saying on the road for months, some do it for pleasure, others do it for business.

Expats make the long trips look easy, but long, extended periods away from ‘home' can be challenging.

Banking and credit cards

One of the biggest hurdles is navigating overseas' banking systems. Suspend your American phone number, and you won't receive text messages verifying purchases. And to twist the knife, most banks won't let you use their own app as a verification tool.

For credit cards, there are several options. For example, get a card which doesn't require a U.S. address. One solution for a borderless account is TransferWise, an online money-transfer service.


Yes. You'll need insurance. American health insurance normally doesn't cover routine care while overseas. If you have a medical condition, you could find yourself paying out of pocket for a doctor or hospital stay.

Many plans may require you to be out of the U.S. for around 11-months of the year.

Some travellers buy an annual travel insurance policy, which helps cover trip interruptions and lost luggage. While you're at it, think about medical evacuation coverage.


Be sure to maintain your U.S. address. Consider signing up for a service like PostScan Mail or iPostal1. Both companies receive your mail and forward it to you, or they can scan your mail and send you an email with the image of the outside of each item. Some services also double as a check-cashing service.


Getting permission to stay in a country is often tricky, more so for those aspiring to the global nomad lifestyle. For example, a person can't stay in Western Europe's Schengen area, which covers 26 nations, for over 3-months before needing a long-stay visa.

The simple answer is to leave the nation for a period and reenter. Be sure to double-check before using this strategy, as some nations have strict rules about re-entry. You may be better off moving to a new location.

I went looking and found long-term travellers how they prepare for a marathon trip, and their insights may help when planning for a long vacation.