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Update (Jan. 22, 2015): Be sure to read the comments section of this post for even MORE items. Thanks everyone for all of your suggestions! 

I’m sure we all remember the moment well. The moment when we had to sell all of our belongings that we couldn’t bring with us overseas. Big decisions had to be made in that moment. What do I sell? What can I keep? What will I bring with me in my limited number of suitcases? 

I don’t know about the rest of you, but my brain felt like it was going to explode during those last couple of weeks before moving overseas. Ultimately, we did sell most of our stuff. Then there were some items that we dropped off at our parents’ house for safe-keeping. The hardest part for me was trying to figure out what I wanted to take with me to the other side of the world. 

Luggage space and weight are precious and don’t need to be wasted. There’s a lot you want to take with you but you’re not sure what will be available in your new country. Maybe you don’t need to take as much as you think. Maybe there’s something you’re not even thinking about that you need to pack. Maybe this…Maybe that…How much is the weight limit for our luggage again?? ::brain explodes::

There are three things I can tell you about this topic that I’ve realized since moving overseas:

  1. Some of the items I packed were totally worth it and I’m glad I used up some of our luggage space for it.
  2. There are also some items that were a total waste of space and weight. I’m banging my head on the table just thinking about it how useless it was to bring those items.
  3. I have a running list of items that I wish I had brought…

And that’s why I’m writing this post today. I’ve already been asked on several occasions by friends to give tips on what to pack, what not to pack, and what I wish I had packed. The most recent time I was asked to answer those questions, I decided to defer to the expat community on our Facebook page. Once I posted the question, the recommendations came flowing in. I found myself nodding in agreement to so many of the items and even writing down a few I hadn’t thought of.

I decided to consolidate the recommendations (and add a few more that weren’t mentioned) into categorized lists. This list is a combination of items we did bring and love, as well as things we wish we had thought of before moving abroad. Hopefully this will be a list you can share with friends who are about to make the big move and/or use it for yourself the next time you travel to a place where you can purchase items you wish you had brought with you the first time around.

At the end of this post, I’ve given a shout out to all those on our Facebook page who helped make this list happen. You guys rock.

Kitchen Items:

Around the house:

  • Bed sheets and pillowcases
  • Decorative square pillow cases for a couch
  • Cute shower curtains
  • Picture frames (and go ahead and print out pictures you want to put inside)
  • Bathroom linens: Bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths


  • Kindle
  • Apple TV (we use ours daily–click the link to find out more about it)
  • Converters/Adapters (you can never have too many of these). These can be purchased all over the world but my husband and I really like the Satechi Smart Travel Adapter

*My husband has concluded that most electronics can be found cheaper on Amazon. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t deliver where we live. If Amazon won’t be an option for you when you move, you might want to consider making those purchases now or pay more later (or wait until you’re somewhere that doesn’t have outrageous prices).


  • Durable shoes (this is especially important if you have larger than average feet)
  • Underwear (if you’re moving to an Asian country, even XL won’t fit you)
  • Clothes for your children to grow into. Good quality children’s clothing is hard to find where we live and, if we do find it, it’s EXPENSIVE. My son was 8 months old when we moved overseas and I packed clothes for him up to size 2T. Thank you vacuum-sealed bags.


  • Luggage. You’re going to want a brand that will survive many trips and poor handling. We’ve traveled a lot and, so far, our SwissGear luggage is still going strong. We’re also big fans of LittleLife Luggage for our kiddos. The matching backpack is pretty awesome (and handy) too.
  • Children’s medicine (Tylenol, Benadryl, saline spray, etc.)
  • Sunscreen
  • Shaving razors
  • Deodorant. For some of us, only one particular brand works. So you better stock up.
  • Essential oils
  • Sippy Cups



One of our FB followers, Serena D., gave a great suggestion that involved having friends and family decorate wooden ornaments for you to take abroad. This is an awesome idea because the ornaments would be lightweight, not easily broken, and would give you a nice starter-set of ornaments to put on your first Christmas tree abroad. Thanks for the idea, Serena!

I realize that some items on this list might not apply to you. Just ignore those items. The availability of some stuff is dependent on what country you live in. I’m sure I left something out so PLEASE leave a comment if you have more recommendations. Remember, #expatshelpingexpats.

Special shout out to Annette, Jan, Holly, Bonnie, Leslie, Serena, Kristi, Kristen, Angel, Tonya, Meagan, Dalaina, Angie, Angela, and Melinda for some of your great suggestions. Thanks for your help!