What are the most important things to pack when you emigrate?

No, Seriously?

Well, there’s the grown up stuff, of course: passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates (plus apostlised versions if required), kids’ health records, and educational records (wish we’d thought to bring those!).

Then there’s the stuff you think you will need: For us it was kids’ books and toys mainly. We also brought sharp knives, those brilliant clippy things that close bags for you, our computers. We kind of figured that everything else is entirely replaceable since we’re not going to living in the jungle. It was suggested we should bring cotton underwear and cotton bedding with us as getting good quality stuff at decent prices is hard. So I bought everyone new underwear and brought an entire suitcase of bedding with us. Am I crazy? Judging from responses here, I suspect not!

What are these clippy things called?

Enough cotton sheets to last a lifetime!

Enough books for our own library

And then there’s the stuff it turns out is super important: for our kids, the most important things we have with us from our London home are their special spoons, plates, lego cups and their own pillow cases from home. Sure they’ve played with their toys since we arrived but as our kids don’t have special sleeping cuddly toys nothing has turned out to be that important. The toys that were best best best toys at home like lego and sylvanian families haven’t actually been touched at all. Our small girl’s new ‘Spanish dolly’ (so named because she speaks Spanish) is the surprise hit, even the five year old boy likes to wear her in the sling she came with. The other most popular toy is a flag pairs game I bought in Tiger for a couple of quid.

Actually what I realise is that for our kids the truly most important thing we brought was US. We are a team and our kids will always be happy as long as they’re with us. They don’t need toys or gifts or sweets, they just need the security of us (although they’d be pretty upset if they never got sweets, I’m sure).

I don’t know if we packed light or not. We brought six suitcases, two computers in boxes and two car seats. One of those suitcases had a kid’s bike in it. We may have also brought a giant inflatable unicorn. She’s practically a member of the family.

What To Leave Behind?

As we packed up our house I was sad when it came to saying good bye to our books and the photos and artwork on the walls. It broke my heart to leave behind my brilliantly beautiful paper cutting by Robyn Wilson Owen and a number of photo books and prints we had made over the years. My parents are looking after them for us and have promised to bring us anything we need.

I love this paper cutting so much.

But you know what? Already, just one week in and we are no longer very sad. We’re too busy making new memories and starting our lives afresh. Because it’s all just stuff and stuff is not what makes people happy, or at least not us. Adventure and love are what make us happy.

Missing Home Foods

Let’s not pretend food isn’t super important. We don’t talk about comfort foods for nothing, do we? I know that every single time I have been travelling for any length of time it hasn’t taken long for thoughts to turn to foods from home that we miss. In Peru and Bolivia, aged 18, we missed toast and butter. Whilst in Asia aged 19, it was Heinz beans. Living in Rwanda for a few years in my 20s, I missed real mushrooms and good cheese. We eventually found mushrooms that grew in the far west of the country (I lived in the far east) and I regularly had care packages of cheese and chocolate sent by caring friends and family. Seriously, one Swiss friend even tried to send me stinky blue cheese. It never arrived. Either someone in the Rwandan postal service was a very happy individual or they put the parcel in quarantine!

We’ve promised the kids they can have a food from home that they’re allowed to request. For our five year old son it’s cheddar. He used to eat a wide variety of cheese but for some reason recently decided he’d only eat cheddar. We have agreed to go to the north of the city to search out real cheddar for him. We also brought a few packs of inari (Japanese fried tofu) with us as that’s his other favourite food. Our daughter is somewhat easier since she wants gherkins and olives as her home treat. Thankfully most big supermarkets sell these so she’s fine. For Col and me it’s probably sushi that we need the most. And this is also not hard to find here so we’re just back to missing the baked beans (well we will be. Not there yet, obviously).

What did you take with you when you moved overseas? Did you get it right?



Mexico Cassie is technically British Cassie but who cares? Currently in the process of moving one family across the ocean and back to Mexico. Hurrah!


ches · 23/01/2018 at 12:14 pm

When I emigrated to the US, I brought only what I could carry. That included an acoustic guitar, an African drum, and Indian clay drum, and all my photos and CDs.

    Cassie · 23/01/2018 at 12:16 pm

    Glad to see you had your priorities straight too!

Tom · 26/01/2018 at 7:32 am

I’ve made several long distance international moves. My last one was recent from Australia back to the States. I realized how much money I have wasted over the years moving stuff around that I really didn’t need. So I took everything with me on the plane: my 3 bikes and 5 suitcases. I set myself that limit and then worked towards it. It wasn’t easy because I have closeted packrat tendancies. I haven’t missed anything I left behind. It was a real feel-good for me to list the big stuff on Craigslist and see most of it go to people who needed it (mostly immigrants) and were grateful for the bargain prices. The rest went to the thrift shop where I bought most of it, another feelgood. I haven’t missed any of it. Most of the people that know me look at me either as a freak for doing this or they say that I’m living their dream. My next move will be when I get my life down to what fits in a backpack or on my touring bike. That will be in 3 years when I retire. I’m not sure at this point how I’ll accomplish that but at least in my mind I know now that it is possible. Now that I’m in my 60’s I’m more conscious of the brevity of life and the twin tasks of enjoying each moment and practicing the art of letting go.

    Cassie · 26/01/2018 at 11:51 am

    Love your attitude to life. How exciting that you’re going to take off again. And yes, giving stuff away feels great…except when I donated to the library and they were incredibly rude and ungrateful despite having told me they wanted the books!

    Agree entirely about ensuring everything can come on plane too.

Heidi · 03/02/2018 at 9:17 am

Your article was perfect timing since we’re getting ready to move to Portugal in the fall. Of course, we’ve already lived overseas for a bit so knew that we won’t be taking too much with us but recently we started whittling down the stuff because we plan to only take 4 suitcases for our move. It’s hard letting go of the childhood stuff but then again, it sits in books in a closet rarely coming out, so why have it? It sounds like you guys are adapting to Mexico well. What an amazing place to raise your kids and with them learning a new language and culture.

    Cassie · 03/02/2018 at 2:38 pm

    Hey glad to be of assistance. Yeah no reason to keep stuff. It’s hard to let go but I already couldn’t care less about stuff we left not even a month ago. Good luck with your move, hope it goes well for you.

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