If you’re moving to Geilenkirchen, Schinnen, or Brunssum, you’re about to embark on a great adventure. Plan ahead to make your move smoother and less stressful and feel free to ask questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.
1. Clothing. Take into account the seasons. You’re moving to an area with more than enough walking trails and things to do outdoors that you’ll want to get out and see some things especially while you’re stuck in a guesthouse waiting for your household goods to arrive. Pack accordingly. There are swimming pools to use in the summer and it does get cold and snows in the winter.
2. School supplies are infinitely cheaper and more abundant in the US, so if you’re moving in the summer and have the space, go ahead and get backpacks and school supplies ahead of time.
3. TOYS. Keeping the kids in mind, a few favorite toys are a smart move. We brought an entire box just of Duplo blocks. They are bulky, but lightweight and kept the kids entertained when we were indoors. I never went anywhere without their own pillow, special blanket, and cuddly toy. You know what your kids will NEED. If you can’t fit it in your luggage, put it in unaccompanied.
4. May be NOT Christmas gifts? Plan ahead. Like a game of chess, you need to look ahead a couple of months and plan for those things that you won’t want to buy, but will want to have for travel, events, holidays, school, etc until your household goods come. If you’re crazy like me, that means that you pack all the supplies for Christmas gifts so that you can finish making all your gifts and get them mailed out on time. (Not recommended… just go buy local chocolate.)
5. Linens, towels, dishes? This depends on where you’ll be staying. If you’re at a guesthouse, it will most likely include all linens and towels like a hotel, and will also have a moderately stocked kitchen. Some guesthouses are better supplied than others. Find out where you’ll be staying ahead of time if possible and that may help you eliminate some things you don’t need. If you’re at City Hotel or another hotel, some extra comfortable linens may be nice and will make your stay feel more at home.
6. Those special items. While guesthouses in Germany are set up so that you can comfortably live without bringing a lot of extras, they won’t have everything. If your breakfast routine requires a special crepe pan, bring it or buy it. The latter is a great option as Schinnen isn’t far and you can get most of what you really need here in the area. You are not moving to the middle of nowhere. You can find what you need.
To Pack or Not to Pack, That is the Question
And luckily for you, I’ve already answered most of that here. When in doubt, check out one of the Facebook pages and connect with folks who have already done the move. They’re more than willing to help.
Moving your pets
It really doesn’t have to be a nightmare, but do plan ahead and make sure you understand the timing of vaccinations and rabies shots. It’s important to have your paperwork together for the move. Also, do make sure that your pet is in your airline reservation even if they are in the cabin. There are restrictions on how many pets can be in the cabin area, so if you don’t have your pet listed and the plane is full, then that special family member isn’t getting on the plane.
Long Flights with Children
My husband and I did this move with 4 kids (ages 1, 3, 4, and 10), 12 pieces of luggage, 3 carseats/boosters, 1 stroller, and a geriatric cat riding along in her little Samsonite cat carrier. We flew from DC to Brussels and though I won’t lie and tell you that it was easy, I did live to tell about it and honestly, it wasn’t awful. Here are a few ideas for you until I have time to write a proper post.
- Sleep. Ok, so I didn’t know what that was either when my kids were young, but the more rested you are to deal with your kids on a long flight, the better it will be.
- Technology. Overseas flights have televisions with movies and that helps. iPods, iPads, laptops, etc are all great distractions from the long, 7-hour flight.
- That special cuddle toy or blanket. My kids had them and they made all the difference.
- Walk around. While you won’t want to pace the plane for hours, the galley in the back of the plane was large and the flight attendants sympathetic, so I was able to stand back there rocking my 1 year old while my 3 year old clung to my leg.
- Melatonin. We didn’t use it then, but have used it since. It’s natural and can help not only on flights, but to adjust to the time afterwards and help ease jetlag (which is evil – be prepared to sleep for days)
The big debate… German schools or International schools? We did both at different ages. As you know, the school environment has a lot to do with the teachers and administrators, so not all schools are equal no matter what country you’re in and not all kids are the same either. AfNorth is a great school and we were very happy there. We also liked our local German kindergarten. Ask around and see what is right for your family.
See these articles for more information on school options. http://livingingk.com/category/schoolseducation/
Oh how I wish that every move dropped you safely at the door of a guesthouse. They are like coming home. If your sponsor books a guesthouse for you, you’ll be comfortably staying in a place that has most everything you need. I was lucky enough to stay in places with nice, high-quality linens, comfortable enough furniture, wifi and cable, and a fully stocked kitchen. Many German families who run guesthouses become lifelong friends and can offer a lot of support and answer your questions when you first arrive. You don’t have to worry about this too much… this is your sponsor’s job, but the nicest places book up FAST, so make sure you’re getting this done as soon as you have your dates.
Finding your house
You really can’t start house hunting until you arrive, so relax, worry about the other aspects of an international move (which can be stressful enough), and let this wait until later.