I was *just* thinking about writing a post on this very topic, and lo and behold, Witek went and asked the exact same question I was hoping to answer. So here it is.
The "what I wish I had left behind, and what I wish we had brought instead" post.
Furniture: We did not pack or ship any furniture. You can read about that here, and here. But all in all, we just didn't have anything worth shipping. If you have furniture and rugs and what not that you feel are valuable and important enough to bring all the way over here then I think you should do it. Partly because you have already invested in them, and if they are worth it, then by all means, follow through on that investment. Also, if they have some sort of sentimental attachment then again, by all means, make yourself feel at home, and have them shipped. (budget permitting of course)
I do not know for sure but there are several ways you can send furniture and household items. International Moving Companies specialize in these kinds of things. My only advice is to start booking a slot now because people move in the summer when the kids are out of school and you will need to get in line. Most adults these days know how to do online searches and ask around for the best companies. You know, interview them a little, tell them your situation. They will be handling all your stuff over seas for quite some time. Buy the insurance and if something doesn't feel right, switch companies We did this when something just wasn't adding up with the first company we found for shipping our car and I'm glad we did. I really liked the company we went with, and everything was in perfect order when it got here.
Car: We shipped our car in a container with just as much stuff as would fit inside per their requirements. We own a minivan so a lot of stuff fit. We had two large paintings in there, all our clothes for the whole family, plus the in between sizes for Kacio. And just stuff that we felt was necessary or wanted. I did not have to leave anything behind that I wanted to take. That is amazing. This is a good way to go in my opinion because it's a great bang for your buck. If you are shipping furniture and rugs, etc. then you may be able to get a better deal through a company that will ship both for you and take care of it all.
Now, the nitty gritty...the list...
Disclaimer: So that I do not get branded as painting Poland as some sort of 3rd world country, which seems to be one of the prevailing notions out there in the far Western world, I must say this: You can get everything you will ever need here in Poland. Everything. I have found everything (online or in stores). Ok? Ok.
Now, what I wish I had brought...
- bags and bags and bags of brown sugar ...if your wife or husband likes to bake with American recipes, Oatmeal cookies, Chocolate chip cookies, etc... pack some brown sugar! (what Americans call Brown sugar, not Poles)
- Vanilla Extract...it is here in Poland, but not in Krakow
- Peanut Butter... oh Jif... I'm stuck on you...
- 4 cans of Canned Pumpkin...no more, no less
- large quantities of spices...spices come in every small quantities here in general, bring some to tie you over until you can find a good source... I miss my ground cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon so easily accessible in the HEB...
- large bags of coffee... in brands and flavors we know and like... coffee is either cheap and gross here or delicious and expensive...there is no middle ground...we're still searching
- large green cans of Parmesan Cheese...so silly, I know... but I like it... although freshly grated is tastier and healthier, that green can is so... so... reliable
- good, high quality athletic socks for the whole family (Hanes,Fruit of the Loom, etc)
- more kids clothes for every season in every size...just to have...kids clothes here are more expensive and the cheaper ones are limited selection...they are kids and will grow out of them fast so it's really no big deal...I am ok with Real and Carrefour clothes for the kids... if you have your trusted brand then I say stock up for the next year while you search here for the stores/secondhand shops here that you like/can afford.
- HOBBY MATERIALS... this is a huge one (for me). Just because they have everything in Poland doesn't mean that within 6 months of you getting here, filling out all the paperwork taking care of the family, nursing nervous break downs, and taking time to sleep, you will be able to find every little shop that has those special little items for your projects. If you are like me and your hobbies are the only thing keeping you sane sometimes then be sure and pack the extra film for your camera (who uses film anymore? weirdo!), the extra canvases for your paintings, the extra paint, the needles and thread, the yarn, the scrapbook paper, or whatever, to get you through the next 3-4 months. Unless your hobby is woodworking or metalsmithing... pack those supplies, and then some. You might feel silly bringing an entire suitcase full of yarn or cotton summer prints, but in the end it is worth it, I promise.
-more pictures of family. Actually, I wish I had demanded that they all take a family picture and give it to me before we left. That would have been better. I am not going to see them for awhile so I would love to have the most updated pictures I could get. This is easily remedied of course, I just wish I had thought of it sooner.
- bobby pins
- more American movies, my complete series of Seinfeld, our Indiana Jones Trilogy... what were we thinking?!
- more children's books in English...pack your favorites and some for the future...you can get them on Amazon.co.uk but it's more expensive
As you can see, my list is mostly made of English language and American specific items. If you dont have a hankering for Peanut Butter sandwiches during the first trimester of pregnancy and you don't have a hobby except reading on your Kindle (the most practical electronic to be invented since the fridge...if you're a big reader like me), while watching Indie eat chilled monkey brains, then you're fine. There are no surprises of things that you will absolutely need and not be able to find, or be cost prohibitive.
Now the list of things I wish I hadn't brought...
- extra linens of any kind
- extra clothes that I should have given away the first time around
- extras of anything really...
Just bring what you need, what is necessary, and leave the rest.... starting fresh is really nice, and it helps to de-clutter your life before you go and clutter up your new place! It is really tempting to go out and buy all new stuff in fear that you might not find what you really want here. And there is that danger, but if it comes at the cost of leaving other things behind or making the move more expensive then it's really not necessary. Again, if you have the space and the cost is the same then you will save money bringing what you already have, but we didn't have this ability, so we only brought what was necessary.
Things I think you should bring... ahh! A surprise category... you are all very surprised...
- anything specific in the brands you like... deodorant, tooth paste, tea, coffee, whatever...bring it so that you have a smooth transition until you can find the same thing or an equivalent
- 6 month supply of medicine and vitamins. We like Advil. They don't sell Advil brand here. They have equivalents of course, but there is that psychological attachment we have to certain brands in times of pain that we swear are just better. This includes Childrens Tylenol and Ibuprofen, Neosporin, Vitamins, etc. Again, they have all this here, but if your child picks up a virus on the plane you may not have the time to find the nearest Apteka before the fever spikes.
- a couple ridiculous items that make you feel at home. I brought some sentimental things that I didn't want to be parted from, they took up space but I don't regret it for a second. They are here. And that is good.
- with kids... a couple new toys to ease the transition and to look forward to upon arrival...
I really thought there would be more of everything. I'm sure if I thought longer on it I could come up with more. But these are the basics I guess. This does not replace the ability for anyone, including you, Witek, to ask me more specific questions about certain things. If you want to know if they have your favorite brand of salsa here (THEY DON"T) then ask me, maybe I know and then you can make an educated decision about what to bring (BRING THE SALSA, and bring me some too, nothing fancy, Pace Picante, medium heat is fine, one jar, two, whatever you can manage).
I hope this helps someone. I am also going to direct you to the "Practical Stuff" page a the top of the blog next to the About Me page. It has links to posts about the car situation. A situation which just recently was finally completed. BUT, again, great company we worked with, highly recommend!