What are the most valuable tips for what to do in your first week in a new country? I get a lot of questions on this subject, so I thought it would be wise to discuss it and more than anything: simplify it for you.
”Dylan, what do you recommend I get set in place my first week abroad?”
Worry no longer my friend, I have done it about 17 times now and I can tell you 1st hand: this is not only a wise question but one I feel VERY confident in answering.
I’ve narrowed this down to a list of 9 things that I think you should aim to do upon landing (your first 7 days in a new country).
1) Get clear on where you’re staying (area in the city, as well as lodging)
It’s crazy that I have to say this, but believe it or not there are a lot of guys that need to be told this. You would be surprised how many people will touch down in a new country and not even have a firm grasp on the layout of the city.
Definitely don’t ever take this ”wing it” type of approach if you travel with a girl, by the way. She’ll also expect you to know what you’re doing.
She’ll want to feel safe and secure with you. Save yourself any unnecessary stress by booking your place beforehand. You’ll also want to some basic research on where the best neighborhoods are (centrally located, safe, etc.). More on this below.
2) Determine where the local produce/market is
This is another one that should go without saying. This is obviously one of the 1st things you’ll want to know. Of course, if you have the money you can also just eat out the first 2 or 3 days. Or do what I do and just have them deliver your groceries. Beyond that, however, it’s a good idea to at least know where the market is located.
It can get expensive to eat out night after night after night. You would be surprised how, even in an inexpensive country, it can add up quickly (in money and in calories).
So I always find spots within 5-10 minutes walking distance to the nearest market.
3) Determine where the local cafes & coffee shops are
If you work online (and if you’re living abroad you do), then of course you’ll want to be within a decent walking distance of a few cafe’s.
Ideally, you want there to be several of them, in case the Wi-Fi doesn’t work as well in one or two of them. By the way, this is also something to diligently research before you get to the city: how well the Wi-Fi works.
This one thing alone has even cancelled my plans to go to certain cities.
The more 3rd world you go, the more of an issue this is will be. Even if you’re going 2nd world, still take a little extra time to look into this. The internet is, after all, how you earn money and provide value for your clients (or audience).
You also want a comfortable place where the staff and patrons are friendly. You don’t want it to be too loud, weird unpredictable temperature, loud music, etc.
Try a few cafe’s out until you find one you like.
4) Head right to the money exchange office
This is the #1 thing you’ll want to do upon setting foot (literally) in your new country.
I recommend you avoid doing this at the airport usually, as the exchange rate is much more expensive. Of course, you’ll need cash for a cab (unless the country has Uber), so you might have to exchange a little bit of your home currency at the airport, but for most don’t take out more than $100 or $200 cash.
It might take a few transactions for you to really get a firm feel for how much things cost (even when you research it beforehand).
I don’t know why this is really, I’ve just found this to be the case. Ideally, you want enough cash to last you anywhere from 3-7 days.
To avoid paying exorbitant ATM fees, look into applying for an account that helps international travelers like yourself.
5) Take a long walk around the area & get familiar with your surroundings
I like to always be aware of my surroundings.
Especially since Jharie travels with me and I protect the two of us. If for any reason I ever get a bad vibe from the neighborhood I’ve picked, I have us pack up and go to a different part of town (different neighborhood, etc.).
Granted, this rarely happens, because I make sure the neighborhood is safe before we go there in the 1st place. However, I still take this extra precaution anyway. As a man, you always want to be sure of your surroundings. Plus, since I work online all day I like to take walks anyway.
Taking a walk, outside, with someone else is the absolute best break you can take (all 3). I read that in a study somewhere.
Contrary to what you may think, it’s not getting on your smartphone and scrolling social media (which actually makes it harder to come back to work).
So this initial walk can also serve to give you a feel for the quick route you may end up taking during your breaks.
I usually take my work break walks in evenings, right during sunset.
6) Find out where you can get cell phone service
If this is a country you’re planning on staying in for more than a few weeks, you’ll want to know where you can get a SIM card. Even though I use WhatsApp to phone my people back home, I can always get a SIM card so I have a local phone number in the country I’m staying in.
Of course, this also allows me to have internet while I’m out and about. If your stay will be a short one, and you’ll only be there for 3-8 days, then you can probably skip this step. Just make sure you remember to call your service provider and tell them you’ll be in X country for Y number of days.
When I was with AT&T for example, I did this and it was an extra $10 a day. For shorter trips, this was more ideal and far less of a hassle.
7) Keep a keen eye out for all the ATM’s Near Your Apartment
This really helps out when you suddenly run out of cash. I can’t tell you how many times this used to happen to me when I would suddenly need to hitch a cab somewhere or pay a local to bring cigars to me.
In some 2nd and 3rd world countries, cabs don’t take credit or debit cards, so it always helps to have cash on hand. I personally don’t like charging everything to my debit card. I find it easier (when I’m abroad at least) to just fork over cash when I’m spending money. My debit card is then used when I need to order items online or pay for expensive dinners.
8) Locate The Pharmacy Near Your Apartment
You’ll need to know these are for things like toothpaste, deodorant, trash bags, toilet paper, etc.
As most places, I’ve traveled at least in South America don’t have everything you need. In the States, you can get everything you need at a grocery store.
Not in places like Brazil and Colombia.
With all these things, it really pays dividends to have these all within walking distance of your place. That being said, you really want to aim to have a place in or near the city center. Usually, apartments in the city center are pricier, but the location is everything, and to me, the extra money is worth every penny.
If you’ve never lived abroad, you’ll learn something very quickly: convenience is worth a lot.
This also brings me right into my last point, which is that the closer to the center you are, the closer to the cigar lounge you’ll be…
9) Locate A Cigar Lounge Or A Place Where Successful Men Congregate
To me, a cigar lounge is a place I can go where I can relax and (usually) be surrounded by interesting, successful people. Many of whom are or were entrepreneurs.
I’ve said this before, but you want to surround yourself with success, and you have to take every opportunity you can get to do that. Sometimes you even have created those opportunities, instead of waiting for them to unfold.
This is a perfect example of that.
This article is something I wish I would have had, before my first adventure living abroad. I hope this simplified the process for you.
These things may seem like common sense, they may even seem trivial, but you’d be surprised how quickly you can forget about common sense everyday stuff when you’re so used to just taking them for granted.
Back home, in the States, or wherever you’re from, you probably don’t even think about these things. They’re all integrated into your everyday routine.
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