Our Family’s (2nd) Year in the South of France
Kids and Castles - Our year with kids in the South of France

The “One-Year Away” Checklist

It is five days to departure and we have spreadsheets, piles and little notes everywhere. I’m getting a little stressed about all the last minute stuff, but making lists always makes me feel as if I have my act together. Let’s see if this one helps.


  • Place to live in France – This was probably the biggest thing, and the visa and school depended on it.
  • House-sitter in California – We were originally planning to rent the house, but it was an enormous pain. The time frame for a rental made it really hard to find somebody. We did look at sabbaticalhomes.com, but that was all listing for grad students who wanted to be house sitters not actual families on sabbatical. Plus as the time got closer and we got busier the thought of packing everything up, finding and paying for storage, and changing our address for the year just got to be overwhelming.  All those house sitter ads got us thinking, and we found a wonderful gal who is a great friend of the family to stay in the house.  She’ll pay us some which will offset our expenses a bit, and she’ll keep an eye out on the mail to catch any bills that I didn’t remember to move online.
  • School in France – This one was easy.  When we get there we’ll need to visit the town hall.  We need to bring birth certificates, immunization records and – this one made me laugh – our marriage certificate!
  • New laptops – Both JM and I have had Vista disasters for the past two years that are slow and getting flaky.  Don’t want to deal with a system meltdown on the road, so we upgraded before leaving.  Loving the new laptop, except that the “a” key squeaks.
  • Order contacts – I almost missed this one.  You need to have visited an optometrist within the past year to order new contacts, and I haven’t seen one since early 2009.  Begging helped.
  • Checkups for everybody – Immunization updates for the kids.  General health stuff for grownups. The doctor gave us fluoride pills for the girls while we’re gone.  Not something I would have thought about.
  • Travel health insurance – After the nightmare that is buying private health insurance in the US, this was absolutely delightful thanks to the fabulous Becky from Seven Corners.
  • Visas – That was a big one.
  • Flights – This was a challenge.
  • Buy converters/adapters – How did we end up with so much electrical crap?  It used to be just us, but now the girls have their stuff too.  But here’s an important tip – adapters are NOT converters and just because a plug is big doesn’t mean it has an adapter built in. (As I discovered one time in Amsterdam after plugging in a router  and causing a 2-hour blackout in the entire wing of the hotel.)  Our laptops have adapters, but turns out the DVD player doesn’t.  JM’s electrical engineering degree coming in quite handy for deciphering plugs.
  • Start blogging and tweeting – And very importantly get my Mom and Dad subscribed. (Hi Mom and Dad!)

To do this Week:

  • Prep house for sitter
  • Scan all documents – passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, health insurance, etc….
  • Car storage/relocation
  • Pack
  • Finish setting up online bill pay
  • Book hotel and car in Lyon for arrival
  • Re-pack
  • Cancel stuff we don’t need while we’re gone
  • Buy a few winter clothes for L.
  • Extend cell-phone coverage plan to include Europe
  • Fight with JM about amount of stuff we’re packing, then repack again
  • Refinance the mortgage – I know it’s CRAZY, but the rates just got WAY better.  The worst part is  scanning the  tax returns.  UGH.

To Do in France:

Of course, we’re procrastinating on everything we can.  After all, in France we’ll be “on vacation” with lots of time for this admin stuff, right?  But we need to remember:

  • Figure out car – buy, long term rental, other
  • Bank account
  • School supplies
  • Everything else we forgot about

4 Responses to “The “One-Year Away” Checklist”

  1. patti says:

    Lists make everything better, always. Hey, I didn’t know you were blogging your travels! I’ll be adding you to my blog list … yet another Famous Cousin to make me feel inadequate. 😉

  2. vered says:

    I have a headache just reading through this! You’re amazing.

  3. dad says:

    Phone before you leave OR stay home so I can phone you right

  4. Maha says:

    I love lists! And, no, you’re not packing too much stuff!