If you're new to my Frugal Foreigner posts, read all about it here!
Do you know how hard it is to pack for a family of four for 7 months? HARD. First step: ask for help from fellow Mommysavers. I also asked about favorite toys for babies and toddlers to decide which toys and books to bring.
An even more valuable resource for me was talking to someone who had been in my shoes. Since this opportunity is through my husband's employer, I emailed a couple other wives who've done the same thing – both with babies. One of the families is doing a 2 year rotation – a great resource for what type of clothing I will need for any time of year! (Plus, they are still there, and I have a new friend.) After meeting up with Kerri, I immediately went home and unpacked our sweatshirts and jeans. That freed up a lot of room for more important things.
Here are some of the best pieces of packing advice I received.
Underpack clothing. There's a pretty good chance you can pick up more where you're going, but you probably won't even need to. Do I really need 15 shirts? I'm still deciding…
Comforts of home. Decide what items from home you can't do without and find a way to get them at your destination. I've learned that Pampers and Huggies are available, and that there's an ok Indian brand of diapers, but decent disposable wipes are nowhere to be found. I am picky about my wipes in America, so you can bet I'll be bringing enough to last me. Also, no taco seasoning, and Indian spice stores are difficult to navigate, so I am bringing ingredients to make my own.
Another thing under this category is food. Although we all (including the kids) love Indian food and don't have trouble with spicy food, there's still a good chance our stomachs will have to get used to it. We are packing food to tide us over in the meantime – Kraft macaroni and cheese, crackers, etc, things I can make in the hotel kitchenette while we're adjusting.
To bring a stroller. I really struggled with this one. Everyone I asked had a different opinion. We finally decided to buy a mid-range umbrella stroller. Even if we don't use it in india, where the sidewalks are terrible, or nonexistent, I know I will want it for the airport. The $15 umbrella stroller was just too cheap and I didn't want to bring our more expensive Joovy Caboose. Plus it's time Maggie learn to walk, though I can carry the baby and push this one at the same time, if necessary. In addition to the umbrella stroller, we're bringing our back carrier for day trips, and my sling (which I am addicted to). Baby Boy is one who often needs containment.
We have also decided against bringing car seats. We won't be doing much driving, and certainly not at high speeds or long distances. They are not required by law, both kids are rapidly outgrowing theirs, and we decided the airport hassle alone would make it not worth it.
When in doubt, leave it out. If you aren't certain you will use an item, don't bring it. Save the space for something essential. If you end up needing it, you can probably buy it. If you need it badly enough, you can have it shipped.
Once I decided what to bring for our move, I also had to decide what goes into checked baggage and what goes on the plane with us. First, I sorted everything we were planning to bring – a pile of clothes for each of us, diapers and wipes, toys, books, electronics, etc. Then I put some of everything in each bag. Let's just say I have very little faith that all of my luggage will arrive unscathed – or unsearched-through – or at all. Even if only one suitcase gets lost, I'd hate for it to be the one with all my husband's work clothes. I made sure that we are carrying on several changes of clothes for each of us and anything of value – more on that next week.
Next up: a two day journey overseas with the kids. Tune in to find out what lifesaving devices are going in my carry-on.