By Amy DeYoung
Updated Oct 13, 2022
Packing for an overseas move is no small task. If you’re moving overseas for the first time, you’re likely feeling overwhelmed at the thought of narrowing down what belongings you’re bringing, how to pack items so they don’t break in transit, and what steps you should take to make the move a smooth one.
Did you know that the average American home has 300,000 items? Unless you live an incredibly minimalistic lifestyle, you likely have thousands of things you’ll need to go through before your move.
Remember that the fewer items you bring with you, the less you’ll have to move and pay to be transported overseas. Go through your items and ask the following questions:
During your declutter, consider what items you want to give away to charity, sell, and pass on to friends and family. Throw away or recycle any items that are beyond repair.
The average American home is significantly bigger than the average home worldwide. If you’re moving abroad, it’s unlikely that you’ll have space for all of your belongings. Unless you’re willing to declutter most of your belongings, you’ll need to consider your storage options.
If you’re planning on returning home, arrange for storage of large items, heirlooms, and furniture. It’s especially important that you leave furniture behind because it will be costly to transport overseas and may not even fit well in your new home, as your current furniture is probably designed to fit inside larger American homes.
Look for rental storage spaces that are dry, secure, and offer humidity control to ensure your items don’t age prematurely. Label all boxes clearly. Not only is labeling your boxes helpful for you later on, but it can help your friends and family find your belongings if you need them to ship something overseas.
Create a moving checklist that lists all the practical items you’ll need for your trip. List out which essential items you’ll need to keep in your carry-on and what items can be shipped ahead of time.
Keep the following items on you at all times:
Keep these items in your carry-on bag or as your personal item on your flight in case your checked luggage gets lost or separated from you at any point.
Before entering a new country, research customs regulations in that area. You may not be allowed to transport certain items, such as electronics or medications, yourself. Don’t risk getting stopped at customs and having your items confiscated.
While you’re researching customs regulations, take a moment to review your airline’s baggage policy. If you’re taking multiple airlines, verify that they all have the same policy and note any differences that you’ll need to account for. Depending on your budget and timeline, it may be worth upgrading to an extra baggage allowance. Always weigh your baggage before you leave. It can be hard to estimate what 50 versus 60 pounds of luggage feels like on your own, and you don’t want to be stuck paying big fees or being forced to part with some of your things.
Shipping items overseas puts your belongings through a lot, making careful packing crucial for keeping your things intact.
Follow these tips to pack your items safely for an overseas move:
Saving space in your boxes and luggage saves you money and effort during any move, especially a move overseas. Clothes and linens can easily take up a lot of space if packed loosely. Instead, roll your clothes tightly to save space.
Space bags and vacuum sealed bags are another great way to save space because they can help you pack twice as much in the same space.
If you don’t have a vacuum in your new home, opt for the space bags because they don’t require a vacuum to open. All you need to do when you reach your new home is kneel on the space bags to release the air, then open the zipper.
This packing tip sounds counterintuitive, but you’d be surprised how you can fill many empty gaps in your luggage or moving boxes.
Check these common missed opportunities:
Moving overseas can be stressful, but planning ahead and creating a detailed moving checklist of everything you need to do before your international move can significantly reduce your stress. The most crucial part of packing items for an overseas move is planning and decluttering or limiting how many items you bring. You’ll be too busy exploring your new home to miss many of your belongings anyways, so keep the process simple and only pack what you truly need.
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