1 Week to France: Packing up

One week to go.

It’s time to start packing.  Historically, we’ve not been great at packing light.  When our oldest son Ben was about seven months old, we took him up to my parents’ house in Dallas for a few days.  For that short weekend visit, our little car was packed completely full of stuff.  It looked like we were moving.  We brought the big exer-saucer, we brought toys, we brought the stroller, we even brought the baby bathtub!  What must my mom have thought??  She was so sweet not to openly mock us, but I’m sure she was chuckling inside as we unloaded that car.

Did we overpack?

Did we overpack?

Since then we’ve become better at improvising when we’re away from home.  We’ve learned the hard way that too much stuff can really make life difficult when you’re traveling.  When we took the boys to Hawaii a couple of years ago, we packed too much.  It was our first time to take all four of them on such a long flight – nine hours from Dallas to Honolulu.  Since it was a domestic flight, no food was served.  Seriously concerned about the risk of starvation, I brought a cooler packed with enough food for half the people on the plane.  I also brought loads of treats, toys, and activities for the boys.  It was way too much!  In fact, it was so hard to maneuver will all of our stuff that we left some of it (including the cooler) in Hawaii.

This trip to France is different from a typical five- to ten-day sightseeing trip.  We’ll be in Paris for just over five weeks and we’ll be staying in the same apartment the entire time, so we plan to settle in a bit.  Still, mindful of our past experiences, we don’t want to bring too much.  We recently connected with a friend of friend who lives with her young family in Paris, and she gave us some useful tips.  She very kindly offered to lend us some toys and games.  AND, the woman we are renting from emailed this week to say she found some legos for the boys.  Hooray!  So I think we’re covered for at-home downtime activities.

La Madeleine

We tried ramping up to French cuisine with a visit to La Madeleine

Cooking and food preparation is another area for consideration.  On the advice of several people who have lived in Europe, I am packing a set of American measuring cups and measuring spoons.  I’m also going to bring a few plastic kid cups and plates.  I’m so excited about cooking and eating in France!  The refrigerator in our rental is small and the freezer even smaller, so we’ll be shopping frequently.  We bought a book that describes all of the markets in Paris.  So cool!  We can’t wait to visit local markets for fresh ingredients.  I’m happy that we’ll be in Paris long enough for me to do a good amount of cooking at home.  I’m looking forward to experimenting with some new ingredients, and also enjoying the French version of foods we love like bread and pasta.

We did some research on electronics and voltages and being able to plug in small electric devices while in France.  Our computers and phones apparently will be fine, but I was worried about the white noise machine that Charlie sleeps with and my small diffuser (which I want to bring to help clear the air of cigarette smoke).  You need to make sure that your household plug-in stuff is dual voltage if you want to use it overseas.  Watch for Spencer’s upcoming post on this topic for more details.  He’s also written about using your cell phone abroad.  Dual voltage or no, I have never successfully used an American hairdryer in another country.  They blow up and die on the first use every time.  Luckily, the apartment owner is leaving a French hairdryer for me.

Apparently diapers and pull-ups are quite expensive in Paris.  I’m going to bring pull-ups for Peter who still sleeps with them at night.  We debated what to do about diapers.  Since we purchase all our diapers through Amazon Prime/Amazon Mom, Spencer looked at the cost to have Amazon France deliver a box of diapers to our Paris apartment.  In the end, the price was decent, and the package of diapers and a few other things will arrive the day we land in France.

Since we’ll have a washing machine (although no dryer) in the apartment, I’m packing light on clothes.  A few comfortable outfits for each of us should be enough.  We’ll bring our swimming suits and clothes for church on Sunday.  I took an inventory of the boys’ shoes and selected two pairs for each of them to bring.  I’m packing a basic supply of adult and child medicines.  We like to use melatonin to help us sleep on overnight flights and adjust to a new time zone.  Although not marketed specifically for children, health food stores such as GNC sell melatonin in 1mg fruit-flavored chewable tablets that are perfect for kids on an overnight flight.  They also sell 3 to 10 mg tablets for adults.

I’m sure we’ll discover things we need once we arrive.  But there are lots of stores in France.  Paris alone has six Ikea stores!  So that’s comforting.  At least we’ll know where to go for our Swedish meatball fix.

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