The Things We Brought Overseas

For every single family and person, the things you bring overseas with you is different.

Everyone has a different idea of what is needed and what is not when moving overseas.

But, as you’ve seen in pictures, we did bring 22 bins/suitcases with us.

What was in them?

Lots of things… much of it for Senegal, not France. Because we aren’t going back to the states between our time in language school and going to Africa, there were things we needed to have like a water filter that we wanted to purchase before leaving. So it got packed to come with us now.

Read: Moving Overseas – Your Ultimate Guide

We also had been told prior to coming about the crazy prices of toiletries, medicines, and other basic products in France. So we loaded up on a few big Walmart trips of medicines, first aid, soap, lotion, deodorant… we had little bottles of Ibuprofen tucked all over the place in those 22 pieces of luggage!

My hall closet is fully stocked and every time I see it, I’m thankful for the huge savings of bringing it all… not just in cost, but in the time savings of not having to shop for that stuff for 5 people and carry it all home with all the other things we need from the store!

We did bring some school supply items… notebooks, pencils, markers, backpacks, folders… but when we got here, we realized that the French take school supplies seriously. Our American supplies DID NOT make the cut.

The list of things the girls needed was HUGE and foreign to us. Not your normal college lined paper. And it had to be exact. Their notebooks don’t look like our notebooks. They write on 5 small lines all placed in tiny grids. Their folders have 4 holes not three. Their pencils are not #2. And they don’t have erasers. And the kids write in pen (all four colors of pens: red, blue, green and black) for most every subject. Even handwriting.

Because the kids shouldn’t make mistakes. So why would you need a pencil and an eraser?

That put a huge unexpected dent in the budget but the girls have had fun exploring their new supplies.

Apart from the above mentioned things for Senegal, toiletries and school supplies… oh and our clothes/shoes… what did we brings with us?

1. Toys – we brought a lot of what the girls had left in toys. There is still some stuff at my mom’s house – in their bunk beds and in the garage – but for the most part, we brought a few bins worth of Barbies, stuffed animals {whole space bags full}, squinkies, pollys, dolls and so on. My goal was to have them move in to their rooms and have it immediately feel like home with their toys around them. I am SO glad we did. It made a world of difference for them. The same with their blankets. Their blankets have traveled with us from beginning to end of this journey… we thought they should continue the journey to make their beds a little more like “home” no matter where their bed might be in the world.

2. Games – we brought our favorite family games. For family nights, holidays, evenings with friends… we brought a small collection of games. Apples to Apples, Phase 10, Uno, Scattegories, cards, Yahtzee… all on a little shelf here in France.

3. A digital picture frame – This sits on a dresser in our living room. I LOVE it. I filled it with pictures from our wedding to the present. SOOO many of you pop up on our digital frame and we LOVE seeing all the faces of our support team smiling at us randomly throughout the day. Apartment living is not for hanging lots of pictures nor did we want to use our precious weight limits on glass and frames. This digital frame is perfect.

Read – 12 Tips You NEED in Moving Overseas

4. Coffee Mugs – European coffee mugs are TINY!! We totally brought about 8 of our favorite coffee mugs. I also brought a colorful expresso coffee mug set that my mom got me for Christmas last year. It sits on my counter in my kitchen. It reminds me of my mom and I will admit that I cried when I opened the box while unpacking it a few days after arriving.

5. An apple dish and a small apple hanging for our kitchen – I know I’ve blogged about our apple dishes before. I’m sure I have. I just can’t find the post. And if I can’t find the post, I will need to blog it again. Because it is a great story and SO sets the tone for our marriage. So that will come later, but these apple things have always been in our kitchen. The other night at dinner, Annalise said, “Mommy, I remember that in our Ohio kitchen.” These little memory things matter.

6. Our throw blanket – same reason as above. This blanket was one of our wedding gifts. And it has been in all our homes, on all our couches. I stuffed it in a space bag and Annalise sits curled up in it now on our couch in France. It says “home” and I’m glad we brought it with us.

Home is where the Heart is #family #missions #missionarylife*image credit

7. Nativity Set – I didn’t bring any of our Christmas stuff really. Honestly, we got down to the end of our packing and sorting marathon and I could not bring myself to open the bin of our Christmas stuff. But I did open it quickly to grab our nativity set. It is a tiny Fontanini set that Jeremy bought for me on our first married Christmas. It sits on a shelf here too.

8. Bags, bags and MORE bags! I brought all my 31 bags, walmart bags, grocery bags, plastic bags… We knew we would be walking a lot… so between our trusty red wagon that we brought as a carry on to all my bags that I layered between books and clothes and toys… we’ve been set for the many long walks to the store!

9. Sports Stuff – we brought extra running shoes… SO much cheaper from the US! I brought hand weights and my walking DVDs. Jeremy brought fishing gear for Senegal. We brought soccer balls (deflated) and tennis rackets for the girls and running socks and injury tape and a small hiking tent. Jeremy’s hiking backpack was one of our suitcases. He brought his snorkeling gear and is using it now to take a class for level 3 diving certification. {The language school encourages all of us to get involved in a club or class outside of school for extra language learning. So fun!} Staying fit and healthy is a huge part of being able to maintain our health overseas and stay longer on the field!

10. Food – we didn’t bring a lot of food things. Since, as you know, we aren’t afraid to eat new things and none of us are very picky eaters, I didn’t want to use our weight allowance for too much food. But I did bring taco seasoning, peanut butter {very hard to find anywhere overseas}, beef jerky {very helpful those first few days when we had no food in the apartment yet!}, a box of cereal {again, helpful that first day here!}, a few of our favorite spices like greek seasoning and seasoned salt…

11. Books – I wouldn’t say we brought a ton of books… they are really heavy so we kept our collection small. We brought our favorite Bibles, study books, devotionals… and of course, our French study books. That were crazy heavy but so much cheaper to buy on Amazon than to buy here!

12. Electronics – These were all mainly in our carry on bags. Our wii, DVDs, laptops… all of that was carried with us. Heavy but safer with us than in checked bags. A few things we had to get here like a printer, blow dryer… all of that needed to have the right voltage plugs so we waited to get it here.

We filled our bins and bags and backpacks full and to exactly 50lbs each. Our little hand luggage scale worked perfectly and the ladies at the British Airways counter when we checked in for our flights were amazed that all pieces of our checked luggage were right on the weight limit. She didn’t question a single one. Huge plus for an already stressful time!

After all the sorting and packing and organizing of not only our stuff to go with us, but also our stuff to remain in storage at my parents’ house… I can honestly say I don’t need to see a suitcase for a very long time!!!

In our language class this week, we were learning the different levels of like/love/hate… we had to come up with things for each phrase on the chart.

I said, “Je deteste faire les valises.” Which means, I detest packing.

Otherwise interpreted, I’m a little done with it for a while… I’m sure I’ll be ready again just in time for our big move to another continent next summer!


  1. Thank you so much for a wonderful list! My husband and I felt God’s leading to the mission field. One of our options is Dekar, Senegal. It is comforting to see that it can be done…..moving overseas. I would love to talk with you about how you prepared your children for a movie like this. Thank you so much! May God continue to use you for His glory!

  2. We are going to be selling our cars before we move to the UK… And I already know I am going to miss my car soo much! It’s probably one of the hugest life changes for me, I am looking forward to walking. I think that is a way healthier way of life, but I know it’s going to be a huge life change for me and my kids…the heater part about heating the whole building is so interesting…! I’ve never heard of that… I wonder if it is that way in the UK as well… That is something I should ask about, that sounds so cold to me as we are from California, haha 🙂

  3. What an adventure!

    I already have a hard time finding school supplies here in Canada, I can’t imagine what it would be like where you are when all items nee to be *exact*.

  4. Very fun post – and something I didn’t realize I was curious about until I started reading. But your post has now caused my curiosity to ask for a picture of the French notebook paper!

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