Returning home after living abroad in the middle of a pandemic

International relocation is never easy. Once you consider all the aspects you have to take care of, and all the issues you’ll have to face, you’ll soon see that it is one of the most complicated projects a person can undertake. Now, add to that the complexity of moving during a pandemic, and you will soon see why most moving companies don’t recommend dealing with it now. But, if you are truly keen on returning home after living abroad in the middle of a pandemic, there is a way that you can tackle it. And to help you make this a bit easier, we are going to go through the major points.

Returning home during the coronavirus pandemic

The important thing to understand about returning home during the coronavirus pandemic is that you need to plan carefully. While certain optimists hope that this will all blow over in a month or two, we could be looking at a pandemic that can take a full year to resolve. During this time, travel is limited, to say the least. Some countries allow their citizens to come back home, while others outright ban travel. And whatever the current situation is in your country, it can suddenly change. After all, two months ago, nobody thought that COVID-19 was anything serious. So, what we strongly recommend is that you plan carefully before you move.

Is it absolutely necessary to travel?

Once you do a bit of research, you will see that shipping your items to your home country can be much easier than completely moving there. If you have friends or relatives that can handle your items, you should consider finding a shipping company and arrange for their pickup. The biggest reason why countries either discourage or outright ban travel is that COVID-19 is highly contagious. Therefore, moving back home is much more dangerous than simply shipping your items. Our advice is to carefully consider whether traveling is the right decision.

How to prepare for the journey back home

If it is vital that you return home, along with your items, you need to prepare properly. First, we suggest that you go over the legal documentation required for returning home after living abroad. The last thing you need is to get stuck in an airport. So, make sure that you are actually able to come back home before you set out on your journey.

If you can relocate back home, you need to find a reliable company that can help you move anywhere. We would like to remind you again that international moving is arguably one of the most difficult types of relocation. Therefore, you need someone capable and reliable to help you out.

Looking for movers

The best place to start looking for movers is online. See which local moving companies offer international moving services and see which ones have the best ratings. Most companies offer free online estimates, but these should be taken with a grain of salt. At best, they will give you an idea of what your move will cost. But, the actual costs will be much more difficult to calculate, which is why they may differ substantially.

Keep in mind that not all moving companies can successfully deal with an international move, so ensure that the movers you hire have dealt with relocations similar to yours. Also, keep in mind that your movers need to work within the constraints that both your current and your home country have put in place. Therefore, your relocation might be much more complicated than you originally envisioned.

Safety measures

When returning home after living abroad in the middle of a pandemic, your primary concern should be staying safe. Luckily, doing so with COVID-19 is pretty straightforward. There are only a couple of aspects that you need to adhere to at all times:

  • Wash your hands as often as possible.
  • Keep your hands away from your face.
  • Wear a mask when spending time with strangers indoors.
  • Practice social distancing as much as possible.

Do this, and you are pretty much guaranteed to remain safe. Now, if you are a part of any high-risk groups for COVID-19, such as those with respiratory problems, you shouldn’t even consider moving. If you are considered at risk, the country you are currently in probably won’t allow you to move in the first place.

Packing

When it comes to your items, you only need to ensure that they are properly packed. In order to do this, there are two routes you can take. You can either choose to pack by yourself, which means both getting the necessary packing supplies and following a packing guide. Or, you can hire full-service movers and let them do the packing for you. If time is of the essence, which is probably the case since you need to move now, your best bet is to go with hiring professionals. That way, you will only have to bring essential travel items with you. By doing so, you will avoid rookie packing mistakes, and you will give yourself more time to prepare for your move.

What is returning home after living abroad going to be like

Once you come back home, you will probably have to spend some time in quarantine to ensure that you are free from COVID-19. The length and the necessity of quarantine will depend on the measures instated by your home country, so make sure to study up on them to know what awaits you. Once you move in, you will probably have to wait a while until you can change your legal documents. And, you probably won’t be able to see your relatives and friends for some time. So sit tight, and try to enjoy the fact that you are home.

Your Pre-Road-Trip Checklist

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The modern world offers few surprises. Taking a trip around the world is just a few clicks away– now you can inspect photos, go to the street view on Google Maps and read exhaustive information about locations on Wikipedia. But who can shake off the call to adventure? Every now and then, the road trip itch needs to be scratched, but it requires meticulous preparation. If you decide to jump into your car and take off with a group of friends or family members, here is a pre-road-trip checklist.

How to pack?

If you are going on a road trip for more than two days, you will need two essential items – a bag or a backpack you can carry around and a proper suitcase. The traveling wardrobe goes into your suitcase – two pairs of jeans, a jacket (and a raincoat for possible rain days) and several comfortable shirts (long-sleeved are better than short-sleeved – you can always fold your sleeves).

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As far as underwear and socks go, the number depends on the number of days you will spend on the trip. Put all your toiletries in a single case –a vanity case or a toiletry bag. It is crucial to pack the one made of cloth and nylon so it can take up less space once you put it in the suitcase.

As far as a backpack goes, put all the things you need to keep within arm’s reach inside – your wallet, money, ID, credit card, additional documentation, smartphone/tablet/laptop or all three if you need them.

How to check your vehicle?

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It’s crucial to check your vehicle and tune it up before the trip. First of all, check your car fluids – which include engine oil, brake, power steering and transmission fluids, and coolant. Even the most fastidious drivers forget to check the windshield washer fluid from time to time, so use this as a reminder.

You do not have to be a car expert to know what sort of engine oil you need – when you pop the hood, it should be printed out on the engine. Take a piece of throwaway cloth and use a stick to dip it into the engine oil to check how fresh it is. Smearing the stick across the cloth will show you how dirty the oil is and if it warrants changing. The staining should be minimal and it should not smell burnt. When it comes to reliability, Castrol engine oil is a safe bet.

If the coolant level is low, pour in more antifreeze, and check whether it already comes with a 50/50 water ratio mix. Also, do not forget to check if seat belts, doors and brake lights are in pristine condition. If you come across more than a few minor problems, you should probably go to the local car service shop and get the help of professionals.

How to leave your home?

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You need to secure your household against potential break-ins. Cancel your mail and newspaper deliveries while you are gone or ask the neighbor to collect them for you – a pile of papers invites robbers to your front door. Additionally, ask a neighbor to park in your driveway while you are out of town and put motion detectors on your exterior lights. Secure all doors and windows before you leave, and turn on the house alarm (if you have one). Empty and unplug the freezer and the refrigerator (for long trips) unless someone will be living in your household and taking care of it while you are gone.

How to create a playlist?

Every true road trip has to include a playlist of appropriate songs. Heartland and blue-collar rock, glam and arena rock classics, new age and post-punk revival, as well as (yes, we are going there) country music are just some of the beloved genres of the road. Bruce Springsteen, Journey, Kansas, U2, and the Killers are nearly unavoidable if you are driving along the expansive landscapes. Johnny Cash, John Denver, and Willie Nelson are country favorites that garner a whole new texture around 30 miles per hour.

Road trips are the closest things we have to adventures right now – and just like adventures, they come with a risk of unpredictable situations and even dangers. Go through a checklist of the necessities in order to prepare properly. It will take a little time for preparations before your trip, but better to be safe than sorry.

This article was written by Roxana Oliver, a travel enthusiast and an occasional blogger from Sydney, Australia.

5 Essential Travel Apps to Make Travel Easier


Mobile Apps

Travel apps are a dime a dozen, but when you find one that you like, you feel like you’ve found the Holy Grail! How did you ever live or travel before without it? Well, you did… but now life is better. When I travel, I prefer to use wi-fi. I stay focused on my trip and my travel experience. Buying data and roaming is costly (of course there are apps for that), so I’ll jump on a wi-fi network when I can and do updates, posts, e-mails etc. Here my 5 favourite travel apps:

1. Hailo

This neat app hails taxis and uses your phone’s GPS to make a cab come to you – and it tells you how soon the cab will be there. My first use of this app was in Dublin, Ireland. I stood in my hotel lobby, used Hailo and had a taxi pick-up in five minutes. You can pay your taxi directly or open an account with a major credit card. Only problem – Hailo is currently in 11 cities: Toronto, Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., London, Cork Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid and Tokyo. But it’s expanding to more cities all the time and it’s available on iPhone and Android for free.

2. Viber

Viber gives you free texting and long distance phone calls. Have I got your attention now? This is a free app that requires a wi-fi connection for you to get free texts and phone calls. When you use Viber on a 3G network you might incur operator data charges or internet access fees. One catch – you “viber” between others who have Viber. It works very well and I’ve made calls from Jamaica and Ireland and texts from Poland, England and around the world – all for free.

3. WorldMate

The closest thing most of us will ever have to a personal assistant but without the attitude is WorldMate. Simply send your confirmation emails for flights, hotels, hire cars and restaurant bookings to trips@worldmate.com and the app generates a detailed itinerary covering all parts of your trip. If you upgrade to the premium version, WorldMate will generate alerts for delayed flights and/or gate changes. It’s available in iPhone and Android.

4. Wi-Fi Finder

Assuming you’re on wi-fi when you boot up this app, you’ll continue your mission to avoid data roaming charges. The GPS finds nearby public wi-fi (free and paid) spots at over 545,000 locations worldwide. You can also search for wi-fi worldwide before your trip or for your next destination. The offline mode means you can download maps before you go and avoid those data bills. It’s available for free on iPhone, iPad and Android.

5. Private Wi-Fi

The problem with Free Wi-Fi is the potential for being hacked. A few years ago, I jumped on a wi-fi network in Amsterdam and lived with an inordinate amount of spam for six months. My e-mail address was grabbed but it could have been much worse.  This app creates a personal VPN connection so that you don’t get hacked. While it does slow your internet connection down a bit, it’s well worth it for the added protection from wandering hackers. It’s available on iPhone and Android.

Of course, this list is changing and these five apps are just the tip of the iceberg, with plenty of competitors for each listed above. But my review is based on my real experience with each of them (and I was not paid to say that). There are also apps for weather, transit systems, cities, airports, airlines and more, and any of these could be very handy for your next trip or just getting around your own city.

This guest article was published in August 2013 by AsiaRooms.com

Toronto skyline from the rooftop of the Thompson Hotel