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A scouting trip isn’t a vacation – it’s a mission. A mission to know more and make the best decision. How can you make the most of it?

Last Updated on July 13, 2023 by Laila Oliveira

Chances are that if you’re preparing for a move abroad, visiting your new country is one of your top priorities. If you’re wondering how to prepare for this important trip and make the most of your time there, keep reading. Let’s dive into how to make the most of your scouting trip!

scouting-trip-success-deborah-dahab

What is a scouting trip? 

Sometimes, the only way to ensure that you like something is to experience it yourself. No matter how many articles you read about this new country, however many videos you watch, you will most likely only resonate with your new home if you’ve been there before.

It’s like test-driving a car or trying on a piece of clothing before you purchase it. You want to test whether you’ll like this country and where you’d like to stay before you make the big move! This includes asking your children how they feel about the neighborhood, the facilities, and the people. 

Before you relocate, make sure you go on an excursion to explore the cities you’re interested in. Here are my 5 essential tips for you to know before you go: 

1 – This is not a vacation

Why is this so important to understand? Because normally, we think of a trip as time off, enjoyment, relaxation, and getting a tourist’s view of a new place. 

But this scouting trip is an expedition with a mission, a purpose, and a goal: You need to come back to your home country with information that will determine how and where you’ll be living in your new country. 

Which region, city, or neighborhood will you live in? Will you have a car? Where’s the best place to live with and without a car? If you have kids, then you’ll also be investigating schools and the availability of kid and family-friendly activities. 

Although the temptation may be to romanticize this trip as a great adventure – please don’t. The worst outcome would be to return home after a huge investment of time, money, energy, and expectations and realize you didn’t gather the necessary information or failed to investigate a vital aspect of life in the new country.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t relax and enjoy yourself on the trip, but overall your mindset should be to gather information to reach a specific outcome or decision. You need to keep yourself focused on the goals of this scouting mission. 

2 – Your long-term life goals

Moving abroad is a life-changing event. You’re uprooting yourself from your home country and placing yourself and your family in another country with a completely different culture. This decision comes with a huge investment of time, money, and physical and emotional energy. 

Be sure this move abroad aligns with your long-term life goals. Does this move bring you closer or further away from these goals? Now is the time to look at it in the big picture while your investment is still relatively small.

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3 – Everyone needs to be involved

If you’re moving abroad with your spouse, children, or other family members like a parent, it’s important that everyone’s thinking is united. The trip will help determine not only your long-term life goals but your family members’ goals as well. 

There will be challenges and bumps in the road. If you or your family members do not understand why you’re making this huge change or know what you’re moving for, your hard times will be that much more difficult. 

Everyone may not be able to go on the trip, but they can still participate in the process, even from afar. Live chats and Facetime are terrific ways to share photos and live videos when you view apartments, neighborhoods, parks, and other areas of interest. 

It’s not the same as being there, but they will still have an active part in the decision-making process. 

make-notes-of-everything-on-your-scouting-trip

4 – Record and register everything

Do not trust your memory. After a couple of days of traveling and investigating your new country, everything will become a hazy jumble of events. You won’t remember the names of the places you visited, the streets, neighborhoods, parks, schools. 

Write everything down in a designated notebook with notes of your impressions, likes, dislikes, thoughts, and feelings about what you’re seeing, experiencing, and living. Write everything down as it happens, or use your phone’s voice recorder or camera to create a video. 

How you choose to record your scouting days doesn’t matter as long as you have everything registered. 

If you’re going with another family member, have this person do the same thing for themselves. These different records will be helpful later on when you compare and contrast each other’s impressions and experiences. 

One more piece of advice: Take the time to download and label everything you’ve recorded. Ideally, you’d do this when your memory is still fresh from the experiences. Maybe you label your photos and videos during dinner or when you’ve settled in your rooms for the night. 

But if you neglect to do this important step two or three days later, you’ll be asking yourself, “What? Where the heck was this? Why did I take this photo?”

5 – Make a daily goal

Every day on the scouting trip, write down your goal for the day. One or two things that you want to accomplish or information you need to find. These goals will be part of your decision-making process. 

Be sure that everyone who’s on the trip is also aligned with this daily goal. Sharing your goals with your guide or agent can also be of help when exploring different districts and neighborhoods. 

And lastly, if you’d like more information and help to have the best possible scouting trip, take a look at my online course, How to Prepare your Scouting Trip for Success

This is a comprehensive course that will take you step-by-step through the process. You’ll have access to assignments and worksheets, like the day-to-day scouting trip guide. You can download and print this worksheet, which is essential in creating your plan and goals. 

The course also includes a 1:1 one-hour session with me that gives you an opportunity to ask specific questions, share and troubleshoot your scouting expedition. 


This article is part of our series with Deborah Dahab – a certified NLP Practitioner and fellow expat that helps her clients ease into the cultural transition that comes with relocation. 

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