Thursday, July 30, 2020

Family Travel Abroad Documentation: Passports

So you're moving 5 people to China... How do you even begin to prepare the travel documents for that many people? 

One step at a time. 

Start with what will take the longest, which will be your passports. I was so nervous about turning in my passport application. I didn't want to stand in a long line and wait forever. I was also stressed about the picture. Where should I have it taken? Should I take my own at home? Will the quality be good enough? Here I come with some tips that will make this easier and less overwhelming for you! 

  • It's ok to do one passport at a time. Unless you have some money saved up, this may be the only financially reasonable option. We started with mine. The cost was $110 for the passport, $15 for getting the picture taken at the post office, and $35 for the post office processing fee. A total of $160. Getting my application turned in first made it less overwhelming to work on everyone else's passports. 

  • Make an appointment at the post office. Yes, you can make a special passport appointment! Then you don't have to wait in line and it's quick and easy. 

  • Complete your application online and print it. Fill everything out, and have it printed and ready before you go. Don't sign it, you will do that there. 

  • Take your picture at the post office. It's $15 which is the same price as most drug stores. Save yourself the stress and get it done in one place. They will also provide you with an extra picture that you can use for your Visa application. This way you are sure the photo meets all of the requirements. 

  • Make black and white copies before you go. Make a copy of the front and back of your ID or Driver's License, and your Birth Certificate. 

  • Bring your checkbook. The $110 passport fee will be sent separately by check or money order. You can purchase a money order there at the post office, but bring your check book to make it easier. The other $50 you can pay by debit card or credit card. 

  • Picture tip: I was told you can smile a little, as long as you can still see the whites of your eyes. I thought I had a little smile in my picture, but I definitely do not, haha! 

I hope this post was helpful for you and makes the passport process seem a little less overwhelming. Thank you for following the adventure! -Michelle

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Adventure That Almost Didn't Happen

When traveling with a family, everyone's opinions matter. In February, my husband had some big concerns with moving abroad. He was worried about leaving his current place of employment. He wondered, "Would I be able to find anything that pays as much when we return?". He did't want to see our family struggle financially when we returned back to the USA. We decided to put the traveling abroad dream on hold for a while. It was a grieving process for me, since this was a big dream of mine. When you are a single person, you can focus on what you want. When you are part of a couple and part of a family unit, it is important to consider how everyone is feeling. It was a hard time for me, but I got through it and focused on my teaching job (which I love), and on my family. 

Fast forward to July 2020. No one is going to China. The borders are closed. My husband tells me one morning, "I think we should do it. I think we should move to China. Let's go!". I was pretty shocked and I wasn't sure if he was serious. Is he for real? He told me he thought about it and there are a lot of reasons he wants to travel. He told me he is tired of working long hours and not spending as much time with our family. He doesn't want to be stressed out about work at such a young age. He likes the idea of exploring a new country together as a family. Now we are on the same page and ready to begin planning our adventure!

Before we decided to put the dream on hold, I was offered a position teaching English at a University in Hainan, China. (Yes, the exact location I was hoping for!) The university is near the city of Haikou. I contacted the school liaison and updated him on our situation. He told me they were still looking for English teachers. Yes! Now the preparation work begins. I want to be as prepared as we can be before the borders open. What I usually would have spread out over six months, I am preparing to complete in about three months. There are so many factors that are out of my hands. Sometimes you just do your best and let the rest fall into place. 

I will post separately about all of the documents I have been preparing for my school. There is a lot happening there, so it is worthy of a second post. It is going to be a lot of work, but I am so excited to share every step of this adventure.