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Packing Tips for Moving Abroad

It's never easy figuring out what to bring and what to leave behind after deciding to live overseas. For most expats, it's about feeling at home, says Jamie Donahoe, co-founder of Adventures in Preservation, a non-profit organization in Boulder, Colo., which offers historic preservation-based experiential travel programs. Yet, Donahoe says, it's still important for expats to know how to pack light and pack smart.

Expats who are moving abroad can use a trusted online foreign exchange provider to help calculate exchange rates - such as a U.S. dollar-to-euro conversion - and pay for international shipping costs if they need additional items sent to them while abroad. Signing up for email market-rate alerts can help them take advantage of their preferred exchange rate so they can have more money to spend on furnishing a home.

Here are some packing tips to help expats strike the right balance when preparing for an extended stay abroad or furnishing a home in a foreign country.

“Art prints and family photos on the walls made our new temporary apartment feel like home.”

— Sarah Manning, director of Tikshoret Communications

Make Personal Items a Priority

Ten years ago, Sarah Manning, director of Tikshoret Communications, an international public relations and marketing consultancy firm in Israel, moved abroad with her family from England to Jerusalem.

Since furniture and appliances don't always fit into or work in a foreign country, the most important things Manning and her family packed were pictures to hang on the walls. "Art prints and family photos on the walls made our new temporary apartment feel like home," she says.

Personal items like books, musical instruments, pictures and toys are also important to ship because they help create a "normal" atmosphere in a new location, she says.

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Store Most Electronics and Appliances

Since voltage varies from country to country, it's best to buy a step-down converter when bringing appliances like blenders and food processers, Donahoe suggests. Don't bring along heat-producing appliances like toaster and hair dryers because they operate on too high a wattage to convert. Donahoe also recommends selling TVs before moving, as they tend to run on a different system and may not work overseas.

To see if electronics are compatible with a new country's electricity voltage, frequency and shape of outlets, expats can view the Global Electric & Phone Directory website.

Bring Certain American Foods

Some foods are hard to come by abroad. While online grocery services deliver most items, Donahoe recommends stocking up on the following items, especially if expats enjoy cooking: 

·  Baking soda and powder: In Europe baking soda is only available in small sachets.

·  Maple syrup and peanut butter: It's often available, but only in small, expensive bottles and jam-sized jars.

·  Brown sugar: Soft brown sugar for baking is difficult to find abroad.

·  Mexican ingredients: "Mexican food can be difficult, so chopped green chilies are something I still tuck in my suitcase," Donahoe says.

Stock-up on Over-the-Counter Medicine

Bring an ample supply of essential prescriptions and over-the-counter medicine, says Michael J. Kelly, CEO of On Call International, a medical, travel and security assistance company based in Salem, N.H. "With language barriers, it can be difficult to communicate with the local pharmacist," he says.   



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