When we flew to the Netherlands for the move, we used IcelandAir because of the ease of adding the cats onto our itinerary. Since it was a trip that originated in the States, each passenger was allowed 2 checked bags and the carry-on - in my experience since then, trips (even round-trips) from Europe to the US only allow one checked bag per ticket, and a second bag is charged. Our moving day suitcases were based on the 2 checked bags expectation.
|Some of our moving day suitcases.|
Not pictured: 2 additional medium sized suitcases,
1 additional cat carrier, 3 carry-ons, and stroller.
- Cat food and bowls. Since we were moving with "the boys" we had some cat food in a 2 gallon ziplock bag and their dishes. This ended up being great since they could eat as soon as they settled their nerves AND we didn't have to figure out buying cat food for a few weeks. With all the other things we had to think about, delaying this detail was helpful.
- Bed sheets and towels. We didn't have real beds when we arrived, but our very kind relocation company provided a blowup bed and toddler bed for us while we made our furniture purchases. They also provided sheets, but it was great to have an extra set "just in case" and while we washed and dried a set. We also brought a towel for each of us, so we could take showers when we arrived. Thanks goes to my mom for thinking about these items before we boxed them up for the shipping company.
- Adapters and universal power strips. When we arrived, we were able to plug in our computers and iPods, so we knew what time it was. At first we did this with standard plug adapters. But as we slowly acquired European electronics, we used the power strips so we could have the computers (with North American prongs) and the CD player (with European prongs) plugged by the same area without too much confusion of cords. And since we bought the "universal" style, when we ended up with a clock for Little Man with UK style prongs and could plug that in with the lamp we shipped from America. NOTE: Check the voltage and Hz capabilities of your electronics before packing. Plugging in something that doesn't fit the requirements of your new home will "blow" and possibly provide a few exciting moments in your electrical education.
- Winter clothes. Because we live further north now, it started getting cooler earlier in the year. Our shipped items hadn't arrived yet, but we were already digging into the suitcases for sweaters and sweatshirts. This probably isn't necessary if you're moving to on/near the equator.
- E-Reader. Our stuff (including all of our books) didn't arrive for nearly 2 months after we did. During that time, we also hadn't bought a TV or most of our furniture. Since Little Man was still taking 2 hour naps in the afternoon and Mark was at work, I read during nap time. I made it through the first four books in the Game of Thrones series, three Jane Austen novels, Jane Eyre, and the Anne of Green Gables series before our things arrived. Despite your feelings towards the "classics" this was far better than twiddling my thumbs and staring at the cats during nap times.
- All the sippy cups. We had five sippy cups at the time. We didn't have to worry about finding a new one if one was lost, and we could let them "air out" after being washed before the next use.
- Travel toy train case with built-in track. This was a bigger item to shove in the suitcase, but I'm glad we did. We bought it before we left Chicago specifically so Little Man could take some of his trains without having them scatter all over the inside of a carry-on and make a nuisance. We also didn't have to deal with loose pieces of track since it's built into the case.
|The train case. One of the better purchase- and packing-decisions I've made in my lifetime.|
- We didn't pack the shopping bags. I was participating in my own small scale "SAVE THE EARTH!!!" campaign in Chicago and I had a bunch of reusable shopping bags, which I shipped. In Europe, they've already transitioned to charging you for purchasing plastic shopping bags to cut down on waste and costs. I already knew this, but it slipped my mind when packing. I ended up buying another reusable bag upon arrival, and added it to the collection when the rest of our stuff arrived.
- We should have brought more cash. We knew there were differences between North American and European debit and credit cards, but we had no idea how drastic those differences were. In addition to the strip on the back of the card, European cards have an extra chip on the front of the card that is typically what the debit machines are reading when you make a purchase. You can use your North American debit card at the ATM, but not in the stores. Likewise, without the chip on the front and a PIN code, many places cannot process a North American credit card. This was an interesting realization at the register at IKEA when trying to make a big purchase. We made it through the wait for our European debit cards to arrive, but navigating the money differences was a bit stressful.
- We didn't pack any plates, cutlery, cups, or a pan. We should have kept a cheapo-reusable plastic plate and cutlery setting for each of us instead of donating them all. Likewise, we should have packed at least one mug for each grownup. And we should have packed at least one pan and cooking spoon. We realized upon arrival that we had no way of cooking or serving food. So after the kind relocation folks escorted a dazed and jet-lagged me to the grocery store for some essentials, they took me to another store to buy some cookware so we wouldn't go hungry during our first few days. Why I thought of it for the cats but not for us is still beyond me.
- Five children's books wasn't enough. Seriously. After 2 months of reading the same five books over and over, I think I can still recite them nearly a year later. Even Little Man had no interest in them for months after all his other books arrived.
Any thoughts from those that have made the "big move" before? Your good/bad/stupid packing choices, advice, and stories are welcome!