Karolien – There's Life After Kids

#Mauritius - Doing The Expat Thing
Our lives in a suitcase…or fifteen 😁

Our lives in a suitcase…or fifteen 😁

As I have mentioned before packing to come to Mauritius was not an easy task. And doing so alone is even more daunting although this time around I was blessed to have my two teenagers around to help we know that the bulk of the responsibilities, decisions and work falls on mom’s shoulders. By the time we started packing hubby hasn’t been home for six months which made it all the more stressful to make life altering decisions. Being a solo parent I am used to it although it doesn’t make it any easier.

Especially knowing that you are leaving the country you’ve lived in most of your life being severely limited in the amount of luggage that one can bring on the plane. Fortunately, being very active on some awesome expat groups awarded me the knowledge of being able to add some luggage to my booking with SAA at a very affordable fee, which lifted my mood slightly as the time went on and we had to choose what to take with and what to leave behind.

Once I investigated this option I made sure to book the extra bags to ensure we could bring the extra stuff. As we were three people flying over, myself and the kids it made for 9 extra suitcases worth of possessions we could bring. Don’t judge! 🤣

Packing up 24 years of stuff is not easy and comes at a steep price of panic attacks, sifting and sifting again to choose what of your stuff can accompany you and what not. It is very easy to say get on a plane with your passport and important documents and start afresh but, that wasn’t an option for us. To be honest, I would not have wanted to spend my first days and weeks here scouring the shops for stuff that I knew for a fact I already have in storage and could have brought along to save some money.

Preparing for the big move I had six different heaps for stuff during the weeks preparing to relocate.

  1. Stuff to sell
  2. Stuff to put on the free-cycle group
  3. Stuff that needed to go to friends or family for safekeeping
  4. Stuff to throw away
  5. Stuff to go into storage and
  6. The paltry heap of items that are allowed to go with you to your new home which included important stuff like unabridged birth certificates, passports, laptop chargers, bedding, rugs, some kitchen stuff, photos, some favorite and familiar home decor pieces and the likes taking into account that the house we were moving into came fully furnished but very impersonal.

Our paltry heap of ‘take with’ stuff grew at an alarming rate as we added, took away and added again. Traveling with teens I was lucky to have skipped out on the toys and children’s stuffs, but having said that, ours is a very sentimental family so it went without saying that we were going to bring some items that would turn a rental into a proper home.

We chose to bring the following:

  • I made up a file with some important documents and papers that we might come to need once in Mauritius which I made sure to pack first, school we sorted last year in October when I came house hunting so I was not too stressed about those papers as the school already had everything they needed.
  • our own bedding, from sheets to duvet inners and covers, which comes at a premium price in Mu,
  • towels and rugs for the bedrooms and lounge and a lamp for each bedroom – ditto
  • some photos in frames and a few small pictures and knick-knacks to put up
  • hubby’s favorite griddle pan, my le Creussette pot, some kitchen utensils, favorite cups, my gran’s mixer and some baking stuffs. From previous visits on the island I realised that not everyone has the same idea of ‘basic’ needs in one’s kitchen and that often these items are quite expensive to purchase. Let’s just say, not a moment of regret and ditto on the coffee machine
  • I was sure to pack my radio/cd/record player as I was also aware that with no English radio stations I would go mad with no other music options available to me. (i might have slightly overdone it on the amount of records I brought with ;)) , but not sorry at all.
  • We packed our laptops, chargers, our external hard-drives, and the X-man his PS4, we’re Netflix and Showmax junkies so manage very well on our 12mps fibre wi-fi connection our landlady installed on our behalf
  • As my kids are sort of done growing we could bring most of their clothes with a warm item or two just for in case…
  • Furthermore for the hubby we packed his golf-set, the girl-child’s horse-riding gear and the X-man’s scooter which he dismantled beforehand

Please note that my list and your list will never look the same. I cannot advise anyone on what to bring if you are planning to move to Mauritius apart from the obvious like important documents and such. What you bring is a matter of personal choice as well as a matter what your relocation budget is. What I can say is our choices made for some interesting looks from friends and family and for a hell of a day of finally fitting everything into the suitcases.

We took everything outside and put it on blankets in the courtyard and started allocating different things to different suitcases and tog bags. It was a job and a half and took the most part of five hours to complete. 😅😂

We decided from the word go that we probably won’t bring any furniture over as it can cost a fortune; and due to the nature of hubby’s job we might just be living on a different rock in the foreseeable future. Due to that we decided that it was not worth the cost or effort if we might move on in a year or two.

Packing up one’s whole life to go into storage is not just expensive and time-consuming, it is traumatic. Moving into a fully furnished rental home that contains NOTHING you can call your own can be equally depressing as weeks and months creep by. For us this was enough motivation to choose carefully what to pack, so we could create some sort of familiarity in a strange new house, in a strange new country.

I know one can buy new things on arrival but somehow that is not the same as having one’s own. Like I have said before; each to his or her own. I’m just sorry about one thing; and that is that I was already packed when I received the advice of buying those big checkered plastic bags at Pep-Stores to make the most of the 23 kg’s per bag as suitcases more often than not weighs in quite a bit on their own which means you cannot fill them to the brim or you might have to pay in at at the airport. For bringing over extra bags check with SAA on their policy for booking 3, 23kg bags for each person at *R250 per bag.

Sleeping under your own bedding, using your own towels and seeing some familiar items around the house goes a long way turning a house into a home. Agreeably this is not important to everyone but it was to us and as our two month anniversary rolls around we are settling in slowly but surely with the help of our stuff around us.

*please be sure to check with your airline before flying about weight limitations and extra baggage. I cannot vouch that they all allow or charge similar to SAA or that SAA might have changed their policy in the meantime.

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