8 Tips for Making an International Move with Kids

8 Tips for Making an International Move with Kids
Photo by Amanda at MarocMama.

"8 Tips for Making an International Move with Kids from Start to Finish" was written by Amanda at MarocMama. I met her at BlogHer'13 while complaining about my move to a town 30 minutes away. She informed me that she was moving to Morocco with her husband and two kids. I demanded, "Are you seriously nuts?!" Then, I stopped whining and promptly asked her if she'd guest post for me. Enjoy!

I’ve traveled with my kids by plane, train, boat, car, and taxi over three continents during the past ten years. But, this year we took the ultimate adventure and moved from our Midwestern home to North Africa. Moving around the block is stressful. Moving across the world is a month-long migraine that won’t give up.

1) Understand ALL of the costs of shipping items.

If you’re not fortunate enough to have a company paying for your relocation, take the time to research all of your shipping options. Make sure to ask about initial costs, any storage costs at the destination point and estimated customs expenses. In some cases, it may be less expensive to purchase items new than to ship them.

2) Pack the things you need for the first 6-8 weeks in suitcases.

For our move, we intentionally had the shipping company pick up our items nearly a month before our actual departure date. We have now been in Morocco for over 5 weeks and do not have our items yet. Pack the items you will need; clothing, children’s items for school, towels, sheets – anything you won’t be purchasing new – in suitcases. In all likelihood, it will be worth it to pay for an extra bag or two, if need be, to make sure you have what you need in your new home.

3) Bring comfort items for your children.

An international move is a major life change for children. I am so grateful that we packed our kids favorite blankets, stuffed animals, and a few favorite toys in our luggage. This helped them make their own space and feel comfortable. Packing these items in carry-ons also makes layovers and long flights a little easier.

4) Organize and carry-on all important documents.

There are many important documents that you will need to keep accessible through the duration of your move. To organize these documents I purchased a binder and clear binder sleeves.  I then slid each type of document into its own sleeve.  Birth certificates, kid’s school records, insurance policies, passport copies, etc. I then carried this binder with me. I have been so grateful to have this. It makes finding whatever we need incredibly easy.

5) Have a Power Of Attorney with someone at home to act on your behalf when/if needed.

Inevitably something will need to be done in the destination you have left. For example, we recently wanted to transfer money from our US bank to our Moroccan bank account. Before we left, I granted my mom power of attorney to handle these types of issues on my behalf. She was able to take care of transferring this money and I didn’t need to spend hours on the phone trying to grant permission for the transfer.

6) Connect with other expats before and after the move.

The best source of information is likely to be found with someone who has done it before. There are countless boards and groups online for expats in every country of world. This is an invaluable resource that can help you!

7) Find ingredients for and learn how to make a handful of your favorite recipes in your new home.

After a week or two in our new home, I began to get frustrated. I couldn’t find the things I was used to and wasn’t sure how to cook with different tools and appliances. Pull together a few of your very favorite recipes and learn to make these right away in your new home. It’s an easy way to feel comfortable when things are difficult.

8) Establish and reinstate routine immediately.

If your children are used to having set bedtimes, mealtimes, and a certain rhythm to life, try and re-establish this immediately.  It will help everyone transition and get back to normal as soon as possible.

There are so many lessons I have learned from moving abroad – and we’ve only been here six weeks! Perhaps the best bit of advice I can give is – it gets better.  It really does.  There were times in the midst of arranging our move that I was ready to throw in the towel and say “forget it!” Do your best to get through the hard part of the actual move and you will see the sun shining on the other side of the tunnel!

Amanda is a curious, world traveling mom of two boys.  She is married and currently resides in Marakech, Morocco.  You can connect with her on her blog MarocMama, a website about raising bi-cultural kids, food, and travel as well as Facebook and Twitter.

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