Relocating with kids - what to pack?

Published 2016-03-11 10:42:48

I haven't had time to write for BlogExpat for a while now. What I have I been so busy with? Another relocation, of course! We finally completed our move from Czech Republic to UK and are now settled in Warwickshire. Boxes and suitcases unpacked, it's time to get on with blogging :)

We already discussed with you in the previous articles how you can help your kids prepare for a relocation, what research you should do before actually moving and how you can say goodbye to your old home, making it easier for your children to move on.

Today we will talk about packing - that dreadfull activity that is an integral part of any move. Even if you pay the moving company to pack your belongings for you, it is your decision what you should take as a hand luggage, place in a suitcase or put away into a container. Here are some tips for you based on our experience.

Hand luggage

Travelling with kids means that your standard set of money-mobile-tickets will not suffice. I will list here some useful items to pack into your hand luggage and you can adjust this list according to your child's age.

- Drinks. I preffer taking water in small plastic bottles with sports top. You can always leave it before going through security check and buy a new one in duty free. Sports top - less spillage, one less trouble to think about. Don't forget to give water to your kids on take off and landing to help with the pressure on their ears. If you're still breastfeeding - perfect! You can't think of any better help for a baby on a plane. 

- Food. Depending on the child's age, it can be either baby formula, fruit puree (choose the ones in pouches, very convenient) or a plastic lunch box with pieces of fruit and biscuits.  

- For younger kids, who are more likely to get dirty or spill things, take a spare set of clothes. In this case you won't need to frantically dry his clothes using a hand dryer in a toilet!

- Entertainment. Colouring books and pencils (I preffer pencils as markers are way too dangerous in a limited space - unless you don't mind having marker all over your hands, clothes and airplane seats), books, boardgames (there're compact ones available for travel) and a tablet. Even if you preffer not to engage your child with a tablet in your everyday life, you cannot underestimate their amazing lifesaving value during long haul flights. There're plenty of educational apps available for all ages. You can also download some cartoons beforehand and watch them without internet during the flight.

- Favourite toy. Preferably, it would not be a huge teddy bear or a train set, but something pretty compact and could be easily hidden in your bag when the baby no longer needs it.

- Blanket. It always comes useful to cover up or cuddle up with.

I will not go into listing all the papers that you would need while travelling with kids as they would differ greatly depending on where you are travelling. Just make sure to double check them before you go!

Suitcase or container?

If you are not arranging a container shipment, then it's all pretty straightforward - pack all your favourites into suitcases and buy all the rest over at your new home country. But what if you do plan to send the majority of your belongning in a container, what should you pack into suitcases?

It's always perfect if container shipment does not take long - a week or two and kids' favourite beds and lamps are already with you, helping them to feel more at home. Unfortunately, more often than not it is not the case and containers can take months to arrive. All this time it would be up to you to make your new place as cosy for your kids as possible. In such situation, I try to pack up my kids' favourites first - I can always buy myself a new pair of jeans, but I would not be able to find exact same pillow or blanket that they are used to. Here're some things that I found useful to pack into our suitcases:

  • A couple of favourite books
  • A couple of favourite toys (try to choose the ones that usually occupy your kids the longest)
  • A couple of childrens' bed linen sets - this way even a new bed will feel like their own
  • Kids towels - always nice to wrap up in your favourite giraffe!
  • Kids blankets for cosy cuddles
  • If they have a favourite bedside lamp - take it as well!
  • A couple of kids' plates and cups from home

Of course, you child will like to get new things, but a couple of old favourites will help him to settle down quicker in a new home.

A couple of things to remember, when dealing with container shipments:

- Insurance is a must! No matter how reputable your shipping company is, your belongings will pass through so many hands that accidents are not unlikely to happen. When we moved from Germany to China, our playstation got lost (or stolen?) on the way. We were reimbursed its declared value without any problem as it was insured.

- Be realistic about shipment dates. If you are told that the usual time for your shipment is 6-8 weeks - it's likely to be 8 or more. Quite often the shipment dates are effected by customs checks. Our container got stuck in customs during our move from China to Russia and that meant half a month longer wait.

- Judging by the shipment dates, think what items you are likely to need before the container arrives. Otherwise, you might receive your winter coat, when it would be time for a spring one already. The same goes for the toys as well - if you kid doesn't play much with some of them already, he is likely to completely outgrow them by the time the shipment arrives.

Wishing you luck with your packing and hoping that some of the above tips would come in useful!

 Yuliya, author of Expat Kids blog on EasyExpat, is also the author of, writing about expat life and travels of their nomadic family, sharing their journey with two tiny expats. 

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Author: TinyExpats
I’m a mother of two little girls, who are slowly but surely becoming tiny expats. We moved around a lot in the last 10 years or so. I met my husband in London, where we studied together. I moved to UK, when I was 17, from Ukraine and he came there to study, when he was just 12, from Moscow. After I lived in UK for 7 years we moved to Hambrug, where our oldest daughter was born and where we lived for about 4 years. When she was 1 year and 5 months old, we relocated to Shanghai and spent a year there. Our next destination was Moscow, a city where we spent two years and had another baby girl. The next time we moved, our second daughter was about 1 year and 3 months. This was in May 2014, when we arrived to a tiny but a very beautiful and cosy town of Pardubice, Czech Republic.

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