Watching your child decide to move away is stressful enough, and it can be even more so as they decide to travel and move outside of the country. However, I’d like to put some of those fears to rest and help you and your young adult feel prepared and informed about moving to the UK.
The most important thing to remember is for them to properly prepare for the trip – maybe with a little help from you Ohh and have some fun doing things in this “GREAT” British place!
There are so many variables involved in an international move that it can be hard to control. Even impossible. So it’s important to think ahead a bit to help your child to be prepared with solutions no matter what hurdles might they might need to deal with.
Get them to read from here on ….
Moving to the UK there are lots of important things to take into consideration. First remember that although the US and UK are similar in many ways they are also very different in others.
Probably most important is that in the UK things cost more, due to the conversion rate not being in US favor. This means you may need to bring extra money to make sure you have enough to get started there. It can also be helpful to make note of all your new clothing sizes and shoe sizes in the UK. Generally US and European sizes are displayed, but just knowing the basic conversions can make life a little easier.
Consider purchasing a couple of outlet converters (which are generally less expensive to in the US). They’ll want converters for all your electronics (for your cell phone and laptop especially). They should consider bringing most electronics that you’ll need with you as they will be more expensive in the UK.
Next, really prepare and be sure about where you are going. This seems like common sense, but many international travellers have fallen prey to being ill-prepared. This means researching travel routs and little things like knowing how to best do your grocery shopping and apartment shopping in the beginning (especially if you aren’t renting a car). The UK has a pretty extensive underground and overground rail system to allow travel between all the towns and cities in their country. Almost every town has a stop so you’ll be able to get around on the rail system and make things much easier for yourself as far as travel.
It’s important to try and pack light for international travel since you’ll definitely want to bring gifts and such back with you. Also think about the weather- it rains a lot more in the UK than most places in the US. Make sure you bring a good water-proof jacket for those rainy days. It is also a good idea to keep a small umbrella with you in case of sudden downpours.
Don’t let them forget the essentials either like passport, any visas you might need (working or student, etc.) and copies of all your important documents. You should keep a separate copy of your US Passport, Drivers License, bank statements, university letters (for students), visas, insurance policies.
One thing we were totally unaware of (which you need) is a national insurance number. Apparently this is for keeping track of your social insurance contributions, not that I can imagine my daughter living in the UK in her old age but it is something they need regardless.
Anything at all that you might need either in an emergency (something is lost/stolen or there is an accident or health issue) or for getting an apartment, bank account, or job (don’t forget to have a good copy of your resume). Having extra copies can be a life saver if something unexpected should happen. Another important thing to consider is the worst case scenario stuff. No one wants to think about their child being in mortal danger or extreme need halfway across the world, but it can happen. It’s far better to be fully prepared than ignorant, so set up a power of attorney if you’ll be out of the US for more than 2-3 months. This will help in case of emergencies or even getting your child’s license renewed on time. Also sit down to write a quick will and testament, especially if you have particular views about what will happen to your body after you die or what hospital treatment you are willing to undergo. Again, this is an ABSOLUTE worst case scenario and for shorter trips it’s probably unnecessary; however, it is always better to be safe than sorry. It doesn’t have to be extensive, just write down general guidelines and keep a copy at home with the family and one with you in the UK. This can also help if you need to have medical transportation back to the States. So if you’ll be living there for more than 6 months it’s a general good idea, just in case.
Keeping Passport Safe
Some other important travel tips would be to keep your passport on you whenever you travel. When you are in another country, treat it like your driver’s license in the states, but with 200x more value. You don’t want to have your passport lost or stolen while you are abroad if you can help it. So keep it with you and keep it hidden well. It’s also smart to take this same approach with any money and credit cards you have. Always keep some emergency cash on hand (in case you get stranded at an unknown rail station or some other emergency arises).
Also, it’s smart to keep cards and money in several different places on you. Pick pockets are in every major city of the world, and it’s just smart to keep valuables like that close to you. Carry a smaller handbag, keep a few euros in your shoe. Whatever method works for you, but just be careful not to carry valuable items in your back pocket or in a backpack where they can be lifted without you seeing the person’s face.
Place to Live
The UK has lots of different resources online and in their local newspapers for job and apartment searching. Apartment rent can be a lot more expensive in the UK though, so do lots of research and know what you are getting into long before you go. It’s important to get a head start on job searching there as well. Sites like Monster also operate in the UK, so again start looking long before you go.
Keeping in Contact
As far as keeping in touch while they are there, the easiest cell phone solution is having a SIM card. Cell phones with SIM card capability are more versatile for international travel, since you will only have to buy a new SIM card from the UK to be able to use your phone there. Phone cards can get expensive if you’ll be staying for an extended length of time, so if you don’t have a SIM capable phone and you’re living there long-term then you should probably purchase a pay-as-you-go phone. They are generally inexpensive and work great for exchange students. If you’re bringing a laptop with you research wifi spots and the cost of internet in the area you’ll be moving to. University campuses will generally have their own wifi as well as most libraries. But, just like in the US, there are other places you can visit to get a wifi signal and Skype the family at home. I recommend using Skype, FaceTime, or another program like it rather than using phone calling cards a lot if you can help it. You’ll save money and actually get to talk “face to face” that way.
Whenever you are traveling internationally it’s great for your young adult to do lots of research and be as prepared as possible before you go, but don’t be intimidated. The UK is full of helpful English speakers. Take advantage of the fact that they will know much more about things there and ask questions. They should try to make friends in your immediate neighborhood or at your university. It’ll help you feel safer and get settled in much quicker. As long as you try not to go out late at night by yourself (which most people wouldn’t do in the US either) then you should be fine. To be extra safe, travel with friends and make sure you have everyone’s cell number in case you ever get separated.
The UK is actually one of the safest places for US citizens to travel, so don’t stress out too much. Make sure they enjoy the adventure AND be smart and prepared. They will come back with life experiences that they will cherish forever.