As we head to Chicago to catch our flight to Paris, I thought I would take a few minutes to begin telling you about the crazy week we had preparing for our 1 year move to Paris. If anyone is preparing to move abroad for a while, maybe we can offer some words of advice.
Tip #1: As you begin to clean out the refrigerator and freezer of items that have been in there way too long, don’t just feed it all to the dogs. I have a suspicion it may have been the tuna, but it could have easily been the chicken or steak… but I had to clean up doggy diarrhea off the laundry room floor a few times over the last 24 hours.
Tip #2: If you are married to a fashionista and therefore will be traveling with the maximum baggage allowance permitted by the airline, plan ahead. I spoke to the manager of the Charlottesville airport a few days ago and let them know a few days in advance that the Kamlanis would be arriving on Saturday with 12 bags weighing 70 lbs. each and 4 carry ons. A huge thanks to the United Airlines team at Charlottesville-Albemarle airport. Esme the supervisor, Anne and Randy all know us by name now and allowed us to drive the bags to the airport at 9am in our 2 cars and check in so that we could then go run a few last-minute errands and go home for an hour before taking an Uber back to the airport. Unfortunately today there was a UVA football game so we had to pay twice as much for our Uber.
Tip #3: Think about how to make your arrival as easy as possible. In Paris I found a service called Eelway which offers a service to pick up our checked bags even before they hit the belt at the baggage claim, and deliver them right to our door at our apartment in Paris. Do not wait until the last minute though, as they need a signed customs document for each piece of luggage, as well as pictures of each bag. They ask to receive all of this information at least 48 hours in advance, but they also ask for pictures of the luggage tags. I’m not sure how that is supposed to work… since nobody can have their luggage tags from the airport more than 48 hours before check in. I didn’t end up sending in the forms until we were about to take off for Chicago (which is already 7:30pm in Paris), so I’m not sure if they will receive the forms and get them into the hands of the team at the airport in time for our arrival tomorrow morning. I guess we’ll have to see when we get there.
Tip #4: Think outside the box. Our apartment in Paris is likely to be quite small even though it looks great in the photos. I doubt however that there will be sufficient storage space for our 16 suitcases. We will most likely have to try and sell our suitcases on Craigslist or Ebay after we settle in, and then look at buying new or used ones when we come back. If I make it back to Charlottesville after the winter, I’ll think about bringing back a couple of suitcases with me full of winter coats and other cold weather clothing.
Tip #5: Check school schedules. We didn’t realize until relatively recently that there are two weeks of vacation for French schools starting on October 22 nd which means there is only 1 week of school left after we arrive. Not to mention, in France the school week is 4 days. On Wednesdays there is no school and kids are given the day to explore extracurricular activities and enrichment. This is a really nice idea so that kids can be home with their families after school instead of using the time after school for art, music, sports, dance, etc. During the 2 week holidays, there are also numerous options for the kids to keep busy. We have signed up Luka and Taj for an art camp during the week of the 22nd and they will start school after the break on November 5th . This will give them some time to absorb the language before starting school. Since our kids have been in Montessori school since the age of 2, we found a 100% French speaking Montessori school in Paris. This way the lessons and materials will be familiar, yet they will have a great opportunity to learn French quickly.
Tip #6: Learn as much of the language as you can in advance. I have used Rosetta Stone before to try learning German so that I could keep up with Sina and the kids at home. I also tried learning some Hindi before our trip to India in November 2017. In both cases I only got about halfway through it before I either ran out of time or lost interest. I’ve been doing French for the last few weeks now and I’m about 30% through it. Maybe this time since we’ll actually be living there I’ll stick with it.
Tip #7: Load up on necessary Amazon purchases well in advance of departure. I left too many things for the last minute and was worried that not everything would arrive. I have heard that there are a lot of pickpockets in Paris. Apparently if you walk down the street while talking on your phone, someone may run by and snatch the phone right out of your hand while you are using it. In preparation I purchased the Blackrapid wander bundle, which attaches a wrist strap to your phone, making it more difficult for a would-be phone thief to successfully run off with your phone.
Tip #8: Sina makes fun of me for this, but I like to start adjusting to the new time zone in advance. So for the last 2 days I’ve tried to go to sleep a little earlier and waking up a little earlier as well. This works out well since by the time you board your flight overseas you’ll be tired enough to sleep through the flight and then wake up fresh in the morning upon arrival.
Tip #9: Make sure all devices are fully charged up and entertainment is downloaded. Luka and Taj have recently gotten hooked on ABC Mouse. It’s a great educational app with reading, math and science. After each activity they earn tickets which can then be used to make virtual purchases in the online for their avatar. Tickets can be used to buy all kinds of clothing from dresses to wigs to sunglasses, or they can head over to the virtual furniture store to buy cool things for their virtual rooms. There is also a virtual toy store. The only problem is that the app does not work offline! This has evoked significant disapproval from both Luka and Taj. With your ABC Mouse subscription, you do have access to a few other apps for math and reading that can be used offline, but the reading app only goes through Kindergarten level. For me, my Bose headphones recently stopped working in one ear, so I decided to try out the Apple Airpods. I have to say they are pretty nifty, particularly for doing conference calls while driving or just everyday activities. No need for any silly (and expensive) headphone adapters. But I just realized while on this flight that I will not be able to use them to watch movies on the flight from Chicago to Paris! I think Airpods can only be used with Apple devices. While the sound of the airpods is excellent normally, it isn’t nearly as good in the airplane as the Bose headphones were. Given the amount that I travel, I may have to think of other options.
It all seems so surreal! It was rough saying goodbye to all our furry babies this morning, our 2 dogs and 6 cats. Roger, our Goldendoodle is 9 years old and Velvet, our Husky mix is 11 years old. I really hope nothing happens to them before we get back in August. We would all be devastated if something were to happen and we weren’t there to be with them. Let’s hope for the best. We set up a streaming security camera in the doggy’s room so we can sneak a peak at them anytime we want. That worked well for us while we were in Spain over the summer. The girls were sad to say goodbye to all of their teachers and friends yesterday, although at the same time they’ve enjoyed the extra attention they’ve been getting from everyone leading up to their departure. We will land in Chicago in about 20 minutes and then have some fun in the airport for about 4 hours before we head to Paris! Having fun on the plane and in the airports is one of the keys to making travel with kids just a little bit easier. These days there are so many restaurant options and things to do in airports that it’s easy to stay quite entertained. Ok, time to practice some more French until we tear up the Chicago airport!