The Moving Abroad Packing Plan

USA to UK Move Map
USA to UK Move Map

Spoiler alert: Moving house is stressful. It might even be one of the most stressful life events. And moving house internationally? That probably also means starting a new job/moving to a new office, or starting school, or any other big change that is prompting the move. So when it comes to moving abroad, the stress can really pile on. For us, getting organized and making a plan helped us minimize the stress and handle our moving abroad packing process in smaller, more manageable pieces.

My husband and I are both project managers, so we tackled this the only way we know: we created The Moving Abroad Packing Plan Phased System (TM), haha. We decided the broad categories of what we needed to tackle, and sequenced them according to the amount of time we predicted we would need for each category. The first phase was expected to take the longest, and the last phase was anticipated to be shortest.

Here we go!

PHASE 1: CLOTHING + SHOES

Wow, did we have a lot of clothes to go through. On my side, I tend to hang on to clothes for as long as possible, so my wardrobe is filled with things I’ve added to it for 15+ years. On my husband’s side, he’d lost weight the year before we moved abroad and due to that process he owned clothes in several different sizes.

DONATE/SELL UNNEEDED WARDROBE ITEMS

For us, we tried on all our clothes. Our first goal was to only move abroad with clothes that actually fit. Our second goal was to have the clothes necessary for the climate of our new home.

Questions to ask yourself: What is the year-round weather going to be like in your home? Will I need to bring clothes appropriate for warm-weather vacations? Ski vacations? Both?

Since this is packing for a move, and not a holiday, it helps to imagine what you’ll need for both day-to-day (work, gym, life) as well as what you’ll need for the ways you like to spend your leisure time.

PACKING YOUR ESSENTIAL WARDROBE

Once we had trimmed down to our essential moving abroad wardrobe, we used vacuum seal bags to lightly compress everything into the luggage we planned to check on our flights. Be careful with this method, as vacuum-sealed bags can lead to heavier luggage and unexpected weight fees when checked for your flight. If you are able and willing, weigh your heaviest luggage after packing.

PHASE 2: ELECTRONICS

Electronics is another pretty big category and can mean dealing with some of your most expensive items. The good news is, most electronics are small enough to pack into your carry on luggage so you can keep track of things. For bigger electronics (like a TV), it’s probably best to sell and repurchase at your new home.

ELECTRONICS TO PACK

  • Power Adapters
  • Phones
  • Cameras
  • Computers/Tablets
  • Gaming Consoles

Come up with a plan for chargers for all your devices. Bring extra outlet converters – it’s a good idea to have a couple extras to make sure you can keep phones charged during your first week abroad even if you lose or break a converter.

Moving Abroad Packing Collection of Outlet Converters

While you are ordering outlet converters, also consider voltage converters or transformers. Most of North and South American power systems operate at 120V, while most everywhere else uses a 230V standard.

Many modern electronics (computers, phones, gaming consoles) are equipped to handle both sets of standards. If you’re unsure, look on the power cord or battery for something like “100 – 240V ~ 50-60Hz” which means it should work anywhere. Items like hairdryers and electric shavers are only designed to work at one particular voltage, and you will need converter in order to safely use it in your new home.

In some cases, you may be able to order a power cord appropriate for your new home before the big move. For us, we ordered and packed UK power bricks and cords for our gaming consoles like the Xbox and Nintendo Switch – they were ready to plug in and play as soon as we arrived! Sometimes it’s the little things that make the whole process feel easier.

What worked for us: Selling our desktop computers and replacing them with laptops. Easier to bring with us abroad, and space-saving once we unpacked.

PHASE 3: TOILETRIES + MEDICINES

Taking care of medicines when handling your moving abroad packing could be an entire post and conversation alone. Here are the key things I would keep in mind:

1. Tell your doctor you are moving abroad.

Your doctor can help make sure you have the medicine you need to last until you can see a new provider in your new home. Just like you might do before an extended trip, you may be able to get a few months’ worth of your prescriptions in advance. Be sure to see about continuing your health care as quickly as possible once you arrive. For some countries, you may even be able to book a doctor’s appointment in the future before you arrive in country.

2. Keep a detailed list of your prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines to give your new doctor.

Having the precise information (generic name and brand name) and dosage on all your current medications will be invaluable to your new doctor. Not all meds are available in every country, but your doctor can recommend alternatives that you’ll be able to have prescribed in your new home.

3. Bring your over-the-counter medications with you

Additionally, you may find yourself needing a prescription for something that was OTC at home, or vice versa. For example, melatonin is prescription only, not over-the-counter in the UK. Bring your OTC medicines with you, and keep them on your detailed list of medications to go over with your doctor. It will really help ease the transition.

4. Most (but not all) toiletries are available everywhere

No one knows your hair + skincare regime better than you. If there’s a particular product you can’t live without, do some research ahead of time to check if it will be available. For example, toothpaste with novamin is available in the UK but not in the USA. You can count on soaps, shampoos, and makeup to be available – I’d recommend bringing a small amount to help your freshen up for your first couple of days before you restock your new home.

PHASE 4: DOCUMENTS

Pack these in your carry on luggage:

  • Marriage license
  • Birth Certificates
  • Visas
  • Passports
  • Insurance policies/cards

I’d recommend having copies of all your important documents that you pack separately from the originals while moving. This way, if you need to handle something like a lost passport, you’ll still have all your information readily available.

Bonus: Having all your documents organized and accessible will make setting up bank accounts/leases/mortgages/etc much easier during your first week abroad.

PHASE 5: OTHER/MISCELLANEOUS

Last but not least, a catch-all category for the odds and ends still worthing packing. Keep in mind that in the midst of trying to downsize and move abroad, some small things to remind you of home or help maintain some pieces of your regular routine can still be worth the space. For example, if you have important hobbies like crafting or playing guitar, you’ll want to keep those habits up in your new home even if it means the extra effort to pack or ship.

Examples of miscellaneous things to consider packing:

  • Hobbies (musical instrument, crafting, a favorite book)
  • Family photos
  • Favorite kitchen tools (like a chef’s knife set)
  • Furniture as needed

What worked for us: packing a small set of favorite art supplies and embroidery materials to stay in touch with a couple of favorite pastimes.

As a final thought… Overall, we wanted to keep our move minimal but ended up needing to hang on to enough heirloom furniture that made renting a storage locker worth it. We’ll be back for all that stuff someday!

That’s our list! This moving abroad packing process helped us stay organized and keep a positive attitude. I hope it is helpful for others, too. Cheers to moving, and good luck!

Shop moving abroad supplies

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The Work is Where We Are

I’ve been sharing in other places online, but not on my blog – and I mean to rectify that now.

I stand in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Any Google search will return resources for ways to help – donations, petitions, protests, vigils, voter registration, reading lists, watching lists, listening lists. Whoever we are, whatever our resources – there is a path for everyone to do the work. To be the change.

Here is a link I’ve seen going around the internet that compiles many action items: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” -Dr. Angela Davis

The job of working for equality is a marathon, not a sprint. And I plan to run the course.

Thank you for reading.

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Bristol England Apartment Tour: Kitchen + Living

Bristol England Apartment Tour

Back with Part 2 of my Bristol Apartment Tour in the kitchen + living area. You can see the photo tour of the bedrooms back in Part 1.

Let’s jump right in!

Living Room

Like I mentioned in part 1 – when we moved, everything we brought with us had to fit in about 6 suitcases. So we have been working hard to get ourselves settled, furnishing our flat and trying to make it feel like home.

We’ve started collecting some art from around the UK – mostly Bristol and Edinburgh so far. I love seeing the art around the flat every day.

Bristol England Apartment Tour
Irises watercolor prints are in the shop

My husband and I both love media and video games – so finding a TV console that could wrangle all our gaming controllers, systems, and TV accessories while still looking presentable was a challenge. I love this one we got from Wayfair – plenty of surface area to hold charging stands for all our controllers and shelving for the game systems. All of our cords are tied up with velcro cable ties and our power strips are supported along the back… hidden from view, neat and organized!

And just across…. I’ve wanted a blue velvet couch for years. Now was my chance!

Bristol Apartment Tour

Perfect for lounging.

Bristol Apartment Tour
pillows from La Redoute and Ikea

Home Office

Since the UK lockdown started in March, my husband and I have both been working from home. We converted our dining space into a co-working space….

Bristol

The view isn’t bad!

This is our second Stendig calendar designed by Massimo Vignelli. I love the huge size (3 feet x 4 feet!) and the design. The months alternate between white with black numbers and black with white numbers. We use it for meal planning.

Stendig Calendar

Kitchen

My husband (who does all the cooking for us) loves this kitchen and it was a big part of why he liked this flat. And he loves the open floor plan because he can feel like he’s in the living room even while he is cooking.

We picked up those 3 barstools second-hand from a restaurant. I was ecstatic to scoop them up because I love the Tolix style design. Really durable, practical, and comfortable without taking up much visual space.

If you are wondering where our refrigerator or freezer is… both are actually under the counter! I think this is more common in UK flats than in the USA. The double oven takes center stage in the kitchen instead…

And new to our kitchen… an at-home espresso machine/coffee station we put together a couple of months ago. Loving the flexibility it offers, and it reminds me of working as a barista back in college!

Terrace

The living room opens up to the terrace….

As the weather gets warmer, we are spending more and more time outside – just hanging out. Enjoying the spring. Loving the views.

And that’s it for the kitchen and living area! Hope you enjoyed the photos from this Bristol apartment tour. 🙂

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Bristol England Apartment Tour: Bedrooms

bristol apartment

I’m so excited to finally share a Bristol England Apartment Tour! We moved to the UK from California back in September and got into this apartment in October. After a whirlwind few months of getting settled and finding our footing, I can finally say we are loving our place here.

We initially thought we’d be using a liaison to help us find a flat while we were still living in the States, but we decided at the last minute to wait until we’d moved and look for a place ourselves. That meant we needed to spend time researching flats online the week before we moved and calling up agents to make a short list of places we were interested in seeing on arrival. We landed in Bristol on a Friday morning, looked at this flat Friday afternoon, and by Friday evening we were signing the lease. When it’s the right thing and you know, you know.

Let’s do this. First up…

The Master Bedroom

bristol apartment bedroom

When we moved, everything we brought with us had to fit in about 6 suitcases. We left most of our things (furniture, lots of clothing, kitchen supplies, etc) behind in a storage locker. So we really started with a blank slate in England and needed to purchase everything we would need while we live here.

We made these display frames to organize jewelry out of cotton wrapped foam board and Ikea Hovsta frames….

bristol england apartment tour jewelry

I love the way it doubles as organization and wall art. Plus, now I can enjoy jewelry even when I’m not wearing it. Win-win.

bristol england jewelry organized

We picked up this valet stand at Ikea also, to make a home for those in-between clothes that you’ll wear again but don’t want to put back in the closet. You know what I’m talking about.

Speaking of the closet…. Most of the flats we had on our list to visit had armoire-style storage, so the built in closet here is something we loved about this space….

bristol england closet

The Guest Room

Our second bedroom is a jack-of-all-trades. We use it as our guest room (the sofa is a pull-out bed), art studio, and occasional office.

bristol apartment

We were looking to add a lot of storage in here, so we choose cabinets from Ikea to organize everything. For example, this cabinet holds the art supplies I have with me currently….

And we used the 3 sets of Eket cabinets together as a TV console:

Lots of storage + TV console. I love the height of these for the TV.

Last but not least, I painted a set of watercolors and picked up this second-hand end-table from the British Heart Foundation.

I’ll be back with photos of the living area + kitchen for Part 2 of this Bristol England apartment tour!

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Working in the Netherlands: Day in the Life

working in the netherlands

I mentioned in the post about moving to the UK that I’d taken a corporate job in the Netherlands, working for the hospital in Groningen. (I’ve since finished up my work there and am now working for a hospital in Belgium – more to come on Belgium!) Back in December, I posted a “day in the life” on my instagram stories and I want to make a home for that here on the blog as well.

No two days are exactly the same with so much travel for work, but here is what a typical Friday looked like for me every other week when I traveled home to Bristol from Groningen.

My mornings always started with a 15 minute walk to work from my hotel. I love getting my blood flowing and mind cleared with the chance to walk in the morning, something I never really do in the States where I almost always commute by car everywhere.

Since this was a day from December, I was turning to oliebollen for a snack because it is popular that time of year. It’s kinda like a beignet – warm, doughy, and topped with powdered sugar if you’d like. Yum.

Friday afternoons I’d start my commute back to Bristol, going from the hospital to the train station to the airport….

My flight was usually right through dinner time, so I liked eating a small meal/snack before and after so that I wouldn’t get too hungry in flight.

Finished my days by kicking off my shoes and relaxing a little before bed. And always leaving all my unpacking till the morning, haha.

Working in the Netherlands was a great experience and opportunity! I love documenting a day in the life like this and seeing how an average day can look so different as time goes by.

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Moving to the UK

Bristol England River

Big news! We moved to the UK! 🇬🇧

It has been a whirlwind of changes that happened crazy fast. So now we are based in Bristol while my husband works here & in London, and meanwhile I’m traveling for a new corporate job I’ve taken in the Netherlands.

Moving to the UK…. Lots of change! Exciting! Overwhelming! In the middle of it all, I’m trying to make an effort to slow down some and get to know this city.

Here is a pic snapped one morning while crossing one of the bridges downtown….

Moving to the UK

What makes a new place start to feel familiar for you? Any tips for settling in? So far we are trying to find new favorite restaurants, coffee shops, a local grocery…. you know the drill.

Exploring Bristol is so fun to do. Every side street has something new to find….

Bristol England

Love it.

My husband catches the train to London every other week. He loves traveling by train – they run frequently and (bonus!) no need to measure out your liquids like when taking a flight.

Bristol Train Station

As for me, I travel every other week to the Netherlands with a quick flight to Amsterdam and a 2-hour train north to Groningen. Here’s where I walk into work at the hospital in Groningen….

Groningen

We synced our work schedules to travel the same weeks and then hang out together in Bristol on our weeks in town. So far, so good! We think we can keep this schedule up for the rest of year.

moving to the uk

Moving to the UK has been such an adventure so far. Can’t wait to settle into this new season of life.

Cheers,

kate

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Goats in San Luis Obispo, California

San Luis Obispo Goats

It is August and around here in San Luis Obispo it looks like this:

San Luis Obispo Goats

How pretty is that view as the sun sets?

There are lots of baby goats hanging out right now….

San Luis Obispo Goats

…. working on those balance skills…

San Luis Obispo Goats

… and getting some naps in (growing up is hard work!)

San Luis Obispo Goats

The goats are pretty friendly and don’t mind us hanging out with them….

Baby Goats

And then here’s their friendly protector:

San Luis Obispo

I love hearing the baa-ing of the goats outside! Some of these kids are starting to jump around – they can have so much energy!

These goats are part of a local sustainable land management business. Goat herds can help with clearing land, managing noxious weeds, and even help lower risk of fire by creating firebreaks. Plus they are adorable.

 

You can read all posts about California here.

 

xo

 

kate

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Disneyland during Spring Break

Disneyland

Last week, we took my sister to Disneyland during her spring break! Wanted to share a few pictures.

Here she is in front of Aurora’s castle…

DSC02414

We started off the day with my favorite ride: the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout (the old Tower of Terror!)…

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Got some awesome souvenirs, we all l-o-o-o-ved our Disney mouse ears – I got sparkly ones!

But maybe the coolest ones were these light-up Star Wars ears….

Disneyland

Had a good time hanging out with the Frozen crew and getting our snowfies

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And here we are with Tinkerbell (clap if you believe!)

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I’ll be back on Thursday with the vlog + my top three tips for visiting Disneyland for a day.

May the force be with you,

Kate

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A Vagabond Experiment

Santa Monica Beach

Hi guys,

Taking a break from New Zealand photos (but I have so many more!) and wanted to share a bit about what life looks like right now.

For now, I am traveling around on the West Coast working on design projects, searching out art inspiration, and soaking up the atmosphere of a part of the country that I love so. much. In December, my husband and I packed all our things away in a storage locker in Minnesota so we could hit the road and live life wherever we found the opportunity.

Right now, we are in sunny California! Last week was spent in Los Angeles, enjoying places like Santa Monica pier…

Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica Pier

LA
…and Venice…

Venice Canals

Where I especially loved the afternoon light and ducks floating around at home on the canals…

Venice Los Angeles

And we stopped by Chris Burden’s famous Urban Light art installation outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art…

LACMA Los Angeles

I posted some of my favorite pieces of art from the LACMA over on instagram and saved them into a story highlight if you are interested!

For now, I’ll be spending a couple of weeks in Paso Robles, California surrounded by countryside and vineyards before we move on to Morro Bay to take in the sight and smell of the ocean (my favorite).

Hoping to share more photos and videos along our way!

xoxo,

Kate

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New Orleans, 1990

new orleans

In 1990, New Orleans and me… we looked like this:

New Orleans, 1990
Bourbon Street, 1990

This weekend, I’m Louisiana bound again. So we’ll see how much things have changed!

To set the mood, some New Orleans tunes: jazz, r&b, funk… you know the drill. I pulled together a few fave songs for the road. You can listen, too — just check out the playlist here: Down to New Orleans by Kate on Grooveshark

Any other New Orleans music suggestions out there? Let me know in the comments!

French Market, 1990

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