What Living Out of Suitcases for 4 Months Taught Me

It’s been a while.

As I wrote earlier in the fall, Chico, our Bug, and I packed up house and home and left Montreal. Since then, we have traveled to 6 different countries, and lived out of suitcases for 4 months (in fact, Chico is *still* living out of a suitcase).

These last few months have been full of ups and downs, excitement and adventure, and I’ve learned a few things I’d like to share with you.

You’ve Packed Too Much

We planned to go between northern and southern hemispheres in our travels, and since we didn’t know how long we’d be living out of suitcases, I wanted to be prepared. I packed one enormous suitcase, half full of summer clothes and half full of winter clothes for the Bug, and a smaller one for me.

Lesson learned: children outgrow clothes far quicker than you think. And: you’ll never wear all those clothes (especially if they’re from two summers ago, before you were pregnant).

Also, one can purchase inexpensive clothing new or second hand pretty much anywhere. There is no need to schlepp all those clothes around, simply because you have them.

So yeah, you can probably get by with a carry-on.

Reach Out to People Whenever Possible

Traveling with a baby is nothing like traveling on your own. You have to go at your little one’s pace, and you’re much more limited in how quickly and often you can get out and about, and when!

That’s where the internet comes in handy. (Oh, that’s another tip: always get a phone. Unlock your phone and buy pre-paid SIM cards. My friends joke I am the woman of a million telephone numbers.)

I used both Facebook and Meetup.com to get together with other stay-at-home parents in Brazil, and in Germany. You’d be surprised by the number of people who are in a similar situation and who are dying to get out of the house with their kid and meet you.

I met some great people in Rio, and in the short time we were there, ended up invited to two social events, and sang in a Christmas carol concert with a choir on a beach. All because I reached out.

Take Some Time to Plan

While you’re lounging on a beach, or sipping a brew in a Bavarian beer garden, watching your toddler trying to kill himself on a jungle gym, take some time to think things through.

If you’re moving around like this, it’s probably because you’re a trailing spouse. If that is the case, you may want to take some time to think about how you want to approach the life of a trailing spouse.

Does your partner’s job support your family sufficiently so that you don’t feel the need to work? Or do you ache to get back into the work force somewhere? In either case (or in any case, for that matter), you’ll want to think about what your priorities are within the choices you’ve made as a family.

Having this wandering time has taught me that while I love my child, I do not want to spend all day, every day with him. I think it’s healthiest for both him and me if he gets into day care, and I find work. That’s easier said than done, but making that decision has allowed me to plan for what to do now that we’re settled in one place.

But, with that being said…

Take Life One Day at a Time

Planning is all well and good, but while you’re living out of a suitcase, uncertain of where you’ll go next, you’ve got to take one day at a time.

This is also easier said than done, especially for a planner/organizer like me. But once I embraced the traveling lifestyle, I was able to let go to some extent and take each day as it came. Some days were better than others, but choosing to enjoy each and every day helped to take the sting out of some of the uncertainty of those four months.

It helped that I had a rough idea of when our nomadic wanderings would end. But if you don’t have that, the best thing to do is wake up every day and face it as it comes. Don’t project, don’t procrastinate. Get things done today.

It really feels good.