I’m in the last hours of packing for my next overseas trip. The difference here is that (1) it isn’t work-related, having recently retired from the military and (2) I’m packing for/with my family (hubby, toddler and 2 dogs).
There’s a bit of chaos and a good deal of stress involved with this upcoming overseas move. We are preparing for at least a few weeks in transition, either staying at my mom’s, an airport hotel or a military hotel likely full of other families in search of acceptable housing in Germany. (I stayed in temp housing when I first moved to Japan and it took 2 weeks to go through the process. I’ve been told it can take longer and expect the German internet installation to take a couple of months).
BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front), I have to figure out what I need to bring with me for the next few weeks that can fit into 2 pieces of luggage that doesn’t weigh over 50 lbs each. We can always mail certain things that take up space in our bags but that’s an expense and inconvenience that we should minimize. Who wants to lug heavy boxes of non-presents from the post office to a hotel room? The last overseas move involved nearly 30 boxes of forgotten but needed/wanted stuff sent to either Saudi Arabia or Japan, where we lived separately for about a year) Worst case, we split our heavier items into Bella’s luggage (3 yr old’s clothing is little and shoes are light…her heaviest items are her books and beloved magnatiles).
For my top 10 travel items for moving to Germany in mid-winter, I’m tweaking my typical travel list from the last couple overseas trips to London and my deployment to Afghanistan:
1. Toiletries to last at least 3 weeks or when we need resupply: note, I share my Aveda bath stuff with Bella and the little travel bottles double as bath toys. Liquids are taped closed especially if they have fliptops. Leave at least a finger width of space from the top, squeeze slightly, close the top, tape shut, and place in a ziploc. This allows for expansion on the flight. Carry on essentials like toothbrushes (I like the little travel ones with toothpaste already embedded in the middle of the bristles, I think they are Colgate?….Bella loves them too), facewipes, and basic makeup and lotion. Aveda’s and Alba botanical very emollient body lotions re lightweight enough for me and Bella to both use throughout the trip on face and body. Travel bottles are great and don’t take too much space. I love finding foreign toiletries and am excited to get access to them again after finding some favorites in the NATO shops on Kandahar Air Field.
2. Winter clothing that can be layered and squished down into a ziploc storage bag… jacket systems, long sleeved ts, etc. Don’t forget hats, scarf, gloves. If you do forget, plan to get them upon arrival.
3. Hair stuff…travel dryer (unless the hotel has one already, which most do) comb/brush, barrettes, several hair elastics in different sizes. Put the little pieces in a large ziploc bag. Note: in a pinch, I use hair elastics to secure the luggage zippers when I don’t have zip ties.
4. Shoes that serve dual purpose, casual/comfy and dressy. I always travel with a pair of knee high boots with comfortable heels to walk in during cooler weather that can turn wet in a flash. A pair of black flats that can dress up or down an outfit. Running shoes. My cordovan Doc Marten Maryjanes that I wear on the plane and are excellent walkabout shoes. I wore them in London in September and they were awesome to walk around the markets!
5. Travel slippers. I have a cute red pair from Hula Hawaii in Japan that come in its own little bag. Super kawaii! I slip these on in the plane as soon as I can.
6. Smartwool socks and tights. Great for walking around town and the tights are snuggly and not itchy!
7. Large pashmina in red or gold/tan: great winter scarf and travel blanket/pillow/neckroll.
8. Electronic toys and travel adapter: laptop, nook, Itouch for movies with external battery extender…a must for long flights. Brookstone and Motor Trend makes good ones for US plugs with several adapters including the car adapter and a USB one (a must). Travelsmith makes a nice small international adapter that’s relatively inexpensive.
9. Emergency tool set (can all fit in a ziploc and placed in outer pocket of luggage): 550 cord, duct tape, S hooks or carabiners..and definitely slip a small knife or credit card size tool kit (one with a small blade) into an outer pocket of your checked bags.
10. Snack food…dried fruits, nuts, Kind or Luna bars are all good.
Bonus, if you have room: travel coffee cup (like the ones at Starbucks). How often do you find yourself running late and wishing you had it with you? I found a great 1L flat water bottle on a carabiner in Colorado Springs earlier this year, but sadly it ended up getting packed and is enroute to Germany… that’s a nice one to stick in the kid’s carryon.
Safe travels and let me know how you do!