Are you relocating? Do you have kiddos? If so… this list might just be for you! We have previously relocated overseas and will be doing so again soon. We have several moves under our belt along with the experience of moving with a very young infant and a school age child. There are many things that make life easier but these are 10 items that are great to have on hand. They make life so much easier!
I also think that most of you reading this will be far too familiar with the items listed to actually care about seeing them online! So I have added some of our views from our relocation! I think they will be more interesting than moving supplies!
1. Ziploc bags
Yes, seriously this is a must have. It makes life so much easier. You have no idea how many times having an assortment of ziplock bags will save your life when you are moving. We use them for storing left overs when you are forced to eat out because all your belongings are in a truck or on a boat. We use them for packing coloring and drawing items to keep the kids busy in an empty house, on a plane. We use them for holding dirty diapers that you have no trash can for! Sometimes you just run out of bags and you just really have a diaper that you need to contain… if you know what I am saying! We use them for separating dirty clothes from s=clean clothes so that your suitcases won’t smell when you have a little baby who spits up on their outfit and you have no access to water at that moment. There are plenty more uses but this is just an example of how this can really save your day just by having an assortment of different size zip lock bags!
2. Sleeping bag / Japanese style sleeping mat and cover / pack and play
Depending on the age of your child you will either need a pack and play or a sleeping arrangement of some sort. My infant used a pack-and-play the first time that we moved overseas. It helped out tremendously. She did not even notice that she was in a different places multiple nights in a row. It helped her adjust to her new surroundings by having the same sleeping arrangements and it helped us adults sleep by not having to share a bed in a hotel room with a baby/small toddler. We all slept easier! The double room allowed for a bed for our older child, a bed for the parents, and the baby still had her own safe space. I also had the comfort of knowing she was sleeping in her own clean bed with her own clean sheet over the pad. Not a hotel crib covered in germs.
My older child uses a sleeping bag in a knapsack with a drawstring. It was inexpensive and you can find it on amazon for about $20. He got his favorite super hero and he can carry it himself on his back because it is small and not heavy at all. This might not be needed when you are staying in hotel rooms but eventually you might make it to your final destination before your needs and sheets and this will be a real life saver. Plus it turned into a way to save on space in the car. If you are doing a move by car it can be used as a blanket and then put away into the small knapsack instead of piling many blankets and taking up all the available space in the car. If you have a large family it also eliminates the issues of fighting over who gets what blanket and who is taking up all the space in the back!
During our overseas move we beat our household items to the new destination by about 3 months! We had some furniture to borrow and linens as well but they were not the best. My child decided to sleep in the sleeping bag instead of using the linens that we could borrow.
For our next overseas move my daughter will transition from the pack-n-play and instead use a Japanese sleeping mat with a blanket and mini pillow. It is small and fits inside a quilted bag. It buttons closed and has handles to carry. This is basically the same idea as a sleeping bag but for my small child it seems a little safer and comfortable than being zipped in a sleeping bag. She will be using it when our household is packed up and moving on a boat to another country. Then she will use it at our next destination when our furniture will not yet be delivered. She has been using it currently in her own room and it used to it. We live in Japan so these are easy to find. In another country you might find this on Amazon, or just a store that might sell some type of set for napping at a daycare. You could also check somewhere like the Japanese birthday store on line. The price range varies. I found ours on sale for $28.99 but it was originally much more. You can find most of the popular characters and a decent quality sleeping mat set for between $40-$70 USD. This washes in a regular size washer and dryer easily. It also holds up well in the wash but I would recommend hanging to dry rather than using a dryer.
3. Powder Detergent
You may not be able to take liquid with you on your flight to your new destination but if you have a long overseas move ahead of you I do recommend taking at least a small amount and putting it in a ziplock box ( I actually will take a small box of tide but you may not have enough space so a small bag will do also). Even if you can easily go to the store and buy some detergent once you arrive, I found it easier to have it on hand. Any messes that happen during the move, or on the flight can be washed out in your hotel sink or bathroom. There are wash services available in most hotels but lets be realistic…. large families with lots of children on a time crunch are probably not going to have the luxury of time and mosey to waste on a wash and fold service! If there is a mess, I put it in a ziplock bag and in a suitcase, when I get to the hotel I was it all in the tube by hand and then hang it on the line in the showers. Yes, people actually use those clothes lines at the top of the showers near the racks for things other than swimsuits! 🙂 This is how I previously survived my flight attendant life! Uniforms were washed every night in hotels by necessity!
4. Plastic Shower Caps
Yes, you technically could use shower caps for covering your hair if you do not have enough time to dry it… but that is totally an amateur move! You are going to sue your cheer caps for so much more than that! Have super dirty stroller tires? Cover those bad boys with shower caps when you enter your hotel so you are not walking on dirt or mud, have a sleeping baby in your stroller and don’t want to wake them? Slip your shower caps over the tires while the little baby sleep! Why wake them when you are moving and can use all the extra minutes you can get to unpack a few more boxes!
Have shoes that you would like to put back into your luggage but they are pretty yuck from your neighborhood run this morning? Slip the shower caps on your shoes before you pack.
Keep them on hand and cover food that you have left over from take out. No Saran Wrap needed!
5. Safety information for children
I know, it sounds crazy. You feel like you are never going to take your eyes of your little ones, especially in a busy airport or a train station, or the hotel lobby, but it can happen. Kids can get lost. And even though it is unlikely they they will get lost, what if their parents or family is in involved in an emergency and no one can explain exactly who should be contacted and quickly? If you are traveling in a foreign country or moving in a foreign country this can be stressful and even older kids can freeze in a emergency situation in a new place where they can not speak the language!
For older children, if they carry a wallet or are big enough to wear a necklace or jewelry you can easily attach all the emergency information needed there. Remember to also include the information in the local language.
For younger children you can attach it on the inside or a jacket or even write it on their arm on the inside so as the entire world doesn’t have to see it! I know it sounds silly but many little kids could escape your eyesight and not have the slightest idea who to call when they are on the other side of the world and can not use a phone to make an international call to grandma!
KEEP IN MIND EVEN 911 IS USUALLY A DIFFERENT NUMBER!!!
SO everything they have been trained to do will change!
6. First Aid Kit
This might sound like a no brainer but you would be surprised how many people have to ask flight attendants on a flight for band-aids! Traveling with kids you will be in cars, planes, trains, hotels, and a new home that is EMPTY! Even something as simple as a little Neosporin and a few band aids will go a long way.
Also keep in mind that the country that you may be relocating to many not have the same type of over the counter medication readily available. There are some countries even in Asia where it is pretty standard procedure for people to make a trip to a doctor or clinic for even simple over the counter medicine. It is best to just skip this possibility by just packing a few things on hand that you may really need.
Long flights and altered eating habits may also cause havoc on children and infants alike. If possible keep not only some type of fever or pain reliever but also some type of stomach comforting medicine. Being immobile on long flights and long car rides can really wreak havoc on a little ones system so be prepared for all the possibilities!
7.Tooth Brushes and Wet Wipes
Oh yes, of course you knew to bring your tooth brush. But don’t forget those wet wipes. They are not only for baby! They can really be a savior on the 12 hour over night flight. When the kids wake up feeling crabby and really lethargic a wet wipe can really make a world of a difference. Send them into the bathroom or use at their seat. Have them brush their teeth, wash faces, hand, arms and backs of necks with wet wipes. This can make kids feel refreshed and on many airlines, if you are not flying first class they will not bring you hot towels, even on long haul flights. Keep this in mind.
8. Do not forget your towels and linens!
A towel, hand towel and washcloth for everyone in your party can make life much easier! Sure, you will have towels at the hotel, but what happens when you arrive at your new home and nothing is unpacked yet? Al you may have the energy for might be a hot shower. It will not be as great if you do not have a towel with you! If your shower is not cleaned and ready to go st least you could use your wash cloth and hand towel as a make shift shower for the time being! and then you would still have a towel left over to dry off!
I also recommend brining an extra old sheet. This one you will not plan on using for sleeping. This sheet you need to use for the floors or carpets you may encounter that are not suitable for picnics or crawling babies! When we first moved overseas our homes floors were not yet cleaned. I did not have the time or energy the first couple of days to give the floor the type of cleaning it needed. I also found that old sheets were the best idea in an emergency. We have to evacuate our home during a typhoon and our temporary shelter was no place for kids to be playing, sleeping, or hanging around. It was extremely dirty. We put our sheets on the ground so we could sit on them for eating or read books and play with toys. We did not sleep with our sheets. We slept on cots with our blankets or sleeping bags.
9.Thumb tacks and maps!
So this might sound really strange but I found that Dumb tacks were really helpful to have in our moves. When we arrived in our new place we had a bunch of important papers, a bunch of delivery dates, a baby who loved to crumple things, and no furniture. Without a desk or table and no where to really put anything I found it especially helpful to have a few thumbtacks. I could just stick really important things to the wall, in the kitchen, near a door, where ever I really needed to see something I put it. We had to set up new phones as ours weren’t compatible in the new country, we had to buy a car, I didn’t speak the language and I was really forgetful! I had a 2 month old and a kiddo entering kindergarten. there were just oo many things happening! My husband was starting work at his new location and sometimes he would be in trainings and just plain busy so I really needed to have a handle on information otherwise I could have really missed some important information!
This may seem kid of funny but we also found it really helpful to hang a couple maps for our older child. He Hung a world map and a U.S. States map. I let him put some stickers on Tokyo and them some stickers on places where our family was. Then he could check out the map and have a better idea of where he was, where grandparents were calling on Skype from, and a better idea of time zones. That helped him understand WHY we couldn’t just call anyone at any time … even though we missed them! I highly recommend this map idea to anyone moving with younger children. it became a fun school lesson instead of just plain old confusion!
10. A pack of Comforts
For some kids this might be just some drawing materials, for others it might be ledges. Whatever is your Childs favorite things that are small be sure to pack it! We packed small backpacks for plane rides, some people pack an entire storage container in the back of a minivan. whatever you have the space for go ahead and do it! Some favorite snacks, favorite toys, and favorite books will really help them adapt. Sometime when you arrive you will not have quick access to internet setup, you may not be able to find movies in your language and your netflix might not be able to be used yet without your internet! Also different countries have different netflix movies and shows available. So if you’d kids have something that will destress them and keep them happy, pack it.
Another important one if a few packs of the favorite snacks. Some countries you won’t find things like ranch dressing. If they are having trouble adjusting, you might want to pack a few. If you need things like this to get you through the first few days, it is totally worth it. Sometimes the first few days will be hard but it does get easier!
My list could go on and on. Many ideas out there are available on Pinterest and through other groups. These are just a few things that I found to be really important and helpful in our specific situation. I hope it can give someone else out there a helpful idea or two!