If you find yourself moving or temporarily relocating overseas, no doubt you've been busy booking your airline tickets, updating your passport, obtaining a visa, sorting out residency papers, getting a medical checkup, taking care of finances, and preparing the whole family for what lies ahead. When the time comes for packing, however, most first-time travelers don't have a clue where to begin.
What should I take and what should I leave behind? Do I store, sell, or ship my belongings? What do I do with my car and my computer? Should I bring electric appliances from home or buy new ones when I arrive? And when it comes to transporting heavy or important items abroad, what's the best shipping method?
The first order of business is selecting an overseas shipping company with experience in transporting goods to the country you are moving to. Not only will the pros answer all your questions about what to pack and what to leave behind, but they will give you a free shipping quote, help you choose the right shipping method for your belongings, and walk you step-by-step through the entire relocation process.
Not sure what to do with your car when moving overseas? Learn all about RO-RO (Roll-on Roll-off) shipping options, as well as container shipping, both of which allow you to transport a vehicle over the ocean. Can't decide whether to move abroad with your pet or find it a new home? Study the rules and regulations of pet relocation to your new destination, keeping in mind that for both cars and pets, each country has its own unique set of laws, fees, and fines.
In general, if you are traveling overseas temporarily (for a year or two or less), most experts say "Less is More." That is, travel light, store most of your belongings, and buy or rent what you need as you need it. In fact, since part of the experience of moving to a new country is integrating, buying some new clothes or toiletries once you arrive is a great way to start fitting in and save on luggage space at the same time.
When it comes to moving your furniture, keep in mind that oftentimes overseas housing is smaller than your current home - which means you likely won't have space for all the furniture you own. If you are moving for work purposes, be sure to ask your employer about the company's international relocation services - many business places now have a corporate relocation program which offers comprehensive moving services, including coordinating all the details of your move, helping your family settle in, and shipping your household goods and vehicle.
As for electrical appliances, don't forget about voltage differences between countries and continents. Appliances built for use in the United States may not work in European outlets (which run on 220 V and 50 Hz as opposed to 110/120 V and 60 Hz). And while Japan's electric system is the same as the U.S., you will still need to convert your plugs to Japanese plugs, the prongs of which are different than their American counterparts. Smaller electric devices should work overseas with the help of a converter or transformer, but you may want to think twice about making any big electronic purchases for your international relocation.
Since you probably don't want to discard all of the items you are leaving behind, you can safely store them in special storage warehouses, many of which come with super security systems, are temperature-controlled to guard against mold and mildew, and are environmentally safe for the storage of artwork, musical instruments, and other sensitive materials. According to seasoned relocaters, however, chances are that if you decide to stay overseas, you'll end up selling or discarding many of the items you once thought indispensable (i.e. boxes of old notes, books, knick-knacks, and "stuff" you accumulated over the years).
Finally, if you are a professional who is responsible for overseeing the international transfer of your company's employees, be sure to visit ERC for all your workforce mobility questions and problems and for all the latest industry news.