Packing: How to Get it Done for Your International Move

For most people, packing is a huge part of the internationally moving experience that causes both stress and uneasiness. Think about it; moving abroad involves packing up all of your worldly possessions that will be shipped overseas and in some instances, placed in storage. That is a lot of packing to deal with, however, if you establish a packing plan and get organized, you will be able to keep that stress at bay -- or the very least to a minimum.

What should stay? What should go?
When moving internationally, you will most likely not be able to take all of your possessions with you, so your first decision should be what to bring and what should be left behind. Consider your international move as an opportunity to get rid of all that old junk in your life; anything that you must keep but cannot pack can be put into a storage facility. Don't forget: the more stuff you have, the more you will pay to move it or store it.

Deciding what to pack is key to the planning of your international move. If you bring bulky items and those are simply taking up space (like old furniture), consider donating, selling it or in some instances, throwing it away. The price to actually move an old sofa overseas won't be worth it unless it is an item that you truly treasure. Appliances and most electronics should also be left behind because most countries have different voltage levels and chargers.

Be sure to also have enough essentials packed like your toiletries, vitamins and prescription medications to last you for a few months. Some countries may not have your favorite brand or it may take awhile to find replacements or to receive orders shipped from home. Personal electronics like laptop computers, cell phones, and iPods are often more expensive overseas and should also be packed -- do some research before moving to see how much they will cost, and take into account currency differences. 

Pack important items:
Even though you don't want to pack too much, you also want to make sure that you pack items that connect you to your loved ones and your old home - this can be especially important in the first weeks in your new country. Items from home can be a collection of your photographs, some of your favorite books, or some mementos from your old home. 

Pack with a plan:
When it comes time to pack, organize your items into a keep, toss, and donate pile. The donate pile might be bulky items that you can't bring with you that you can give to your local Salvation Army or to friends or family members. The toss pile might be old clothes that are beyond repair or broken and worn down items - don't think twice about these items; just toss. The pack items are the essentials.

Boxes, boxes, and more boxes:
Ask your moving company if they have moving boxes that you can purchase. We recommend going this route because these boxes are generally sturdier and designed for moving. When packing your items, keep like items together and keep an inventory of what is in each box through a labeling system. Label each box as a number and write on a corresponding sheet of paper what is in each box. So, box one contains books; box two contains mugs and cups, etc. This way, every box is recorded so you know what room to place your box when unpacking and to have an inventory in case anything gets lost or broken in transit.

No matter what you decide to pack, be sure to keep some personal items with you and that you know what is in your packed boxes. This is a good advice for any move, but for an international move, it's critical because of the distance and complexity involved.