Packing for Overseas

Posted by  | Tuesday, November 18, 2008  at 2:27 PM  
When we began packing to go overseas, Lydia was 1 week old. I don't recommend doing it this way if you can help it. We were fortunate to be able to crate and the crate had to be completed when Lydia was 3 1/2 weeks old. I can remember sitting in a chair nursing Lydia while my mom went through all of my clothes holding each item up and me deciding if it was to go in the a) crate pile, b) suitcase pile (ie. I would need it before the crate arrived overseas), c) garage sale pile, or d) long-term storage. I'd already decided the only clothing items that would make "long-term storage" were things like my wedding dress that didn't need to go overseas but we couldn't part with. Everything else would somehow make it overseas or be sold/given away. Needless to say, one week after having your first baby is not the time to know what size you will be two months later. The next day we began packing up our kitchen. By the time Lydia was two weeks old and my mom left, most of our clothes and kitchen were packed and the house was an absolute disaster. Josh and I were left to do the rest and to say it was stressful would be an understatement. I was on total sleep deprivation and, as my loving husband does everytime we pack to go anywhere, he decided we were packing too much, it wouldn't fit on the crate, and we would need to start removing items. (I remember calling my mom one day - she was a 9 hour car ride away - sobbing, while she was teaching, and saying, "Ma-a-mom, I ne-ee-ee-eed heeelp" . . . She thought something had happend to Lydia. . . it was definately the low point. . . and makes for a funny story now!) When crating was over we were very glad we crated (as we knew we would be). But there was a joke we'd heard about your marriage surviving crating, which we thought was silly. . until we were in the midst and understood. Now we're proud of the badge of having not only survived crating, but doing it with a newborn! (Not that we would ever go back and do it that way again!!)

What we crated
Having been to our country before, we had a pretty good idea of what was available, and what wasn't. I also knew what I needed to make a house a "home" and be able to have a home overseas. Things like pictures, knick-knacks, seasonal items - especially Christmas ornaments, nativity scene, etc., "my kitchen" (ie. pots and pans, wheat mill, kitchen aid mixer, griddle, food processor, etc. were important to me and I knew I couldn't get the quality where we were going), books, and our bed. Orignally this was what we'd intended to crate but later we found out we were having a baby and did crate some baby items that were very pricey in our country - crib set, baby clothes, high chair, stroller, educational toys. We used clothes, towels, and sheets as cushioning for the other items and in the end had some extra room to pack our glider (oh I was/am so thankful!).

What we packed in suitcases
Three months later we were packing our 10 suitcases to move overseas. Had we not crated, our suitcases would have looked very similar, we just would've had to find ways to buy the things we crated. (Except for the sentimental items - pictures and seasonal items for the house - room would've been made for these.) We had no idea when our crate would arrive overseas (it turned out to be 3 months after our arrival) and we'd already gone 4 months without the items in the crate. Stacey's right, those suitcases need to have all the things you need on a regular basis and all the things you'll need immediately. We had some clothes, but also some simple kitchen utensils, cookbooks, boppy (Lydia was 4 months and I was nursing), baby bathtub, 220 v. appliances, photo albums, computer, DVD player and other electronic gadgets were highlights. We left three days after Christmas so presents that year were well-planned so we'd have room to pack.

My Advice
  • Begin early - months early! Start making lists as you think of things you'll want; email with people where you'll be and ask specific questions - find out what's available and what's not. Also, if it is available, find out if it's really pricey - you may still want to pack it.
  • Think about things that are important to you - what are your comforts? Food items? Household items? Holiday items? Books? Journals? (I love cute, girly journals. Sure, I can get a notebook here to write in but I would be heart-broken if I had to journal in the stuff here!)
  • As women, we are nesters! What do you need to make your house a home? Seriously, this stuff makes all the difference. I went overseas for two years right after college and figured I could just make do. I mean, Jesus left everything in heaven to come to earth, what was I really giving up in the big scheme of things? (This was my thought process.) Nope, not this time. It is OKAY to have a few comforts from home. Everything else is going to be different - sites, sounds, smells, friends, what you see, what you do - everything. It really is okay to have some comforts to make your house a home.
  • If you will have high-speed internet where you're going, look into Packet 8. It's a VOiP and makes staying connected with friends and family E-A-S-Y! I like it better than skype because I don't have to be in front of the computer. I can be cooking dinner, forget a recipe, pick up the phone and call my mom. It is wonderful.

We would love to hear your packing experiences and questions! What do you wish you would've packed? What should you have left at home? What questions/concerns do you have?


KC said...

I don't think I realized she was THAT young! Now I can truly understand how hard that was. I don't think I could have done it.

Courtney said...

I have to add that I remember the crate packing day and you had so much extra room that Josh ran to Walmart to buy more stuff! Wow that was so long ago!

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