It used to be the case that those moving abroad would organise practicalities through visits, letters and telephone calls, while other aspects had to wait until arrival. This is no longer the case, mainly down to the internet.
While many people preparing to be expatriates make use of websites and email, it is very easy to overlook social media. Some of these sites can be very useful, and in more ways than you may think.
Twitter is an especially good tool, which can help with all manner of things from saving money to making new friends. Here is how.
Join the social networking site and give yourself a Twitter handle that says something about you. These are the names that users of the site are referred to and start with @. Perhaps it will be something to do with the destination you are moving to or a detail about your lifestyle.
In the description on your profile be sure to mention the fact that you are soon to be an expat in a certain place as this will help others in a similar position or those already there find you.
Have a look around
Run searches within Twitter for keywords such as 'expat' and your destination. Look at both the results for people talking about these topics and click on 'People' to find users related to these subjects.
Twitter is all about building up a list of followers relevant to you. So when you see interesting expats or people in your new country don't be afraid to hit the big blue button next to their handle that says 'follow'.
This means that whenever you go on Twitter you will see tweets from all these interesting people come up in your feed. Check back regularly and you may find out about monthly meetings, groups that gather regularly or events that are going on once you arrive.
Reading the tweets of people living the life you are about to begin will help you to understand what to expect – the difficulties as well as the high points.
Tweet your preparations
As you get ready for your move, tweet about the preparations you are making. This could well help people who are a step behind you and are trying to make sure they have remembered to do everything. Just remember not to give away any personal information about documentation etc. The whole world can see what you are writing.
Respond to people
Twitter is a conversation, so be sure to respond to anyone who asks you questions or mentions you in tweets. To do so, simply include their handle in your tweet. They could be useful connections in the future.
As an expat you will find that you are constantly taking flights, whether it is back home or to visit another part of the region where you are living. Twitter can help here too. Follow travel companies and airlines so that you know straight away if they have a sale on or a special deal.
Many airlines update their Twitter accounts with any delays and disruptions, which can be really helpful when you are about to embark on a long journey. It is amazing how many scenarios there are when the people on the ground are better informed because of Twitter.
This can be a good way of finding out what your alternative options are from the airline's official standpoint. Those checking Twitter can often react more quickly and get on an alternative plane or secure their refund forms.
Follow the FCO
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is an essential organisation for expats and it is now focusing a lot of its attention online. Travel alerts about specific countries and events are posted to its account regularly, which is an easy way to keep an eye on security situations where you are living or visiting.
@FCOTravel is the Twitter handle to look for. You can also send messages to this account and get the specific information you need. Just remember once again not to give away any personal numbers or information that could compromise your security.
Many British consulates around the world have their own Twitter accounts too, so find the one for the country where you are moving to. It will be able to keep you up-to-date with events on a more local level.