Packing for Overseas Living...(with little ones!)

Posted by  | Monday, November 17, 2008  at 1:48 AM  
Arrival in our airport after 24 hours of travel with 19 checked pieces, 5 carry-ons, and 2 computer bags

I once heard a saying, “Things that bug you in the states will elephant you overseas!” This is what I think about when I think about packing for “overseas living” with small children. Packing for overseas for a family can be an overwhelming task. But packing for overseas with small children can seem monumental! I am going to touch on a few things that went into our planning for our big move.

First of all, I researched and found a couple of people that lived in the city where I was moving. I began emailing and calling like crazy to get all of the answers to my crazy questions. Thankfully, these ladies were so willing to help when it came to my OCD tendencies!! I mainly asked about what items could be bought in my new city (toys, meds, food, toiletries, clothes.) Then my packing list started from that.

Before I fill you in on how we packed for our kids let me give you one piece of advice someone gave me: Make sure you pack whatever items you don’t want to be without the first morning you wake up in your new country. So, for me that was…220v coffee pot, coffee, French vanilla creamer:), make-up, 220v blow dryer, 220v straightener, shampoo, conditioner, wash cloths (which are hard to find in other countries), and a towel. I know this list sounds a little vain but it did help me feel a little normal in a very abnormal feeling place!

Birthday planning: I was told that “some” bday decorations could be found in our new city but it was “hit and miss” as to what kind. I touched on this in the birthday planning post but I will say it here again. I took my children to a party supply store and allowed them to pick out plates and napkins for the 3 birthdays they would have while overseas. I also bought “Happy Birthday” signs, streamers, balloons and several colors of plastic table cloths. This trip for my kids was so fun and it helped them know that their birthday parties were going to be really fun in their new city.

Box/suitcase for each child: When the actual packing started, we gave each child a Rubbermaid box (we did most of our packing in these with 2 luggage straps, a ratchet strap and duck tape…ask me, if you want the details). We instructed them that they could pack their own box with any toys or books they wanted from their room. I did stay with each of them and offered ideas as to what would be most important but sometimes they chose a silly piece of paper from a friend…so, we packed it! When we arrived in our new home overseas, my kids were so excited to open their box of things they knew to be familiar in such an unfamiliar place!

Comfort food: Many foods can be bought in our city but they come at a HUGE price. For example, one package of Oreos is around $10! Nope…not gonna do it! Now, we are not big Oreo fans but when you know you can’t have them, then you REALLY want them! We didn’t pack Oreos but we did pack brownie mixes, favorite flavored oatmeal, chocolate chips, rotel, taco seasoning, and Velveeta. These items are fun to us…we love meals cooked with these so we used at least one of our boxes for comfort food to be used for special comforting times! I must say, Matt and I have needed it more than the kids!

Clothes for current and next size up for kids: Clothes in our city are either really cheap and fall apart easily or are REALLY expensive. So, we bought clothes that the children were currently in and for their next size up. It was overwhelming to think about how much money that would cost so we shared with our families our need. We asked for these items for everyone’s birthdays and the Christmas before we left. We asked that family only buy clothes, travel toys, or DVD’s for presents leading up to our departure.

Carry-on’s: We purchased backpacks with wheels for each child’s carry-on. We packed each one with the following items to help keep them occupied:
Snacks
Tape –scrap pieces of paper(my kids love just taping colored paper onto white paper…they think they are making a major craft!)
Plain, white paper
Stickers
Colored pencils
Dvd player
Change of clothes
Wipes for easy clean up

Okie, dokie ladies…I think that is it! Of course, we packed all of our “junk” as well but this gives an idea of what we focused on with our kiddos! I would love to hear from you…what ideas do you have? What have you heard that is helpful?

Happy Packing!

3 comments:

roger and courtney said...

When we left the States we didn't have kids yet, but we still had a lot of stuff to pack. One of the best things we did was to start packing about 2 weeks before we actually left. That way we could do a little bit each day.
Now we are heading back to the States with an 8 week old and we are learning all of the challenges of packing with a baby around.
Does anyone have any advice for traveling internationally with an infant? He will be 11 weeks old and it takes about 2 days of flying to get home. I would appreciate any advice anyone has!
Thanks!
Courtney
www.rogerandcourtney.com

The Roberts Family said...

We moved overseas in March with about the same amount of luggage. We had a 9 month old and a 23 month old and I was pregnant with the third. I would definitely recommend getting in touch with someone in the country you are going and picking their brain. I did that and it was tremendously helpful. I would just recommend taking anything that makes home feel like home...a certain handsoap, candle, blanket, pillow, family pictures. I brought a few of those and left a few that I wish I had brought now. Great post!

Kelley said...

Even though we don't like to waste a lot of time watching TV in the States we have learned that having some DVD's of tv shows in English really help. Just hearing your native language come out of the tv is more relaxing than I ever thought it could be!

I agree with taking a few luxury items that remind you of home...especially for the first few years. I've realized that the longer we live overseas the less I feel a need to have those but in the beginning it is such an encouragement, especially on those homesick days!

Yes, fabulous post!

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