Preparing The Trip – Spain To Southeast Asia

It doesn’t matter if you are moving down the street, to a new state, or even to a new country.  Moving is Moving!  With that comes a big list of things to do.

Preparing To Move - Spain To Southeast Asia

As you know we are preparing to move to Southeast Asia for the next year.  This isn’t just an ordinary move.  No, we have to make it a little more challenging than that.

We of course have to sneak in a vacation before we actually move.  Our adventure will begin with summer and we’ll kick off with another European Road Trip, in combination with a couple of flights.  This time it’s just 3 1/2 weeks, touring the Netherlands (A houseboat in Amsterdam!  Thanks GowithOh!), Belgium, Champagne France and a couple of days in Stockholm, Sweden.  We will give you the complete route, once we finish planning!  We do plan to return to Spain early next summer and get back into our Spanish rhythm.

The planning and preparation are key with this and as with any move you have a similar To Do List.  Here was our list prior to moving to Spain and moving from Spain to Southeast Asia isn’t much different.

To Do List: Preparing to Move – Spain to Southeast Asia

Blue Check Preparing to move from Spain to Southeast Asia

  1. Decide on a plan. This is never done!  Our plan is to create it as we go.
  2. Plan kids education and curriculum. This will be in progress the entire time we are away.
  3. Update Adults passports.  √Complete!
    We applied for new passports April 24th and received new passports May 19th.
  4. Extra passport photos.
    Many of the countries we will be visiting require passport photos, upon entry or for the visa.  We thought it would be easiest to have them at the ready.
  5. Apply for Thai visa.
    We plan to drop our passports and visa application off in Amsterdam.  The consulate quoted a 3 day turn around, so we should be good to pick them up while we are in the area.
  6. Declutter “stuff”.
    I sure wish selling second-hand goods in Spain were as easy as it was using Craigslist in the USA.  We currently have 4 areas of the apartment for “staging” things.

      1. Take to Asia – This has to be the most difficult for us and different from our previous moves.  We are going to be mobile, nomadic, “backpackers” moving often.  We need to get down to a large backpack and small backpack each or as close as possible.  We will not own a car and will need to carry all that we own.  We don’t currently plan on a home base, so our things will go where we go.  Once we figure out what we are bringing, we will share the list with you.
      2. Give away – Loads of the kids clothes have now been donated.  Alan and I will go through our things next.
      3. Sell – We don’t really have much to sell. Just our printer and perhaps our gas grill and a skateboard.
      4. Store in Spain or USA
        (Undecided!  If in Spain, we need to figure out where to store).

        1. Keep (send to us if we don’t return to Spain) – These are mainly things we don’t want to carry with us everywhere, but things we ultimately want to keep.  (Back up hard drives, potentially camera equipment and things like that).
        2. Give away (give away if we don’t return to Spain).  These are mainly winter clothes for Alan and Me.  We won’t be needing winter clothes where we are heading, so that stuff can stay in Spain.  There is no need to store any clothes for the kids as they will grow.
  7. Cancel Spain Medical Insurance / Buy Travel Health Insurance
  8. Obtain a Charles Schwab account with no ATM fees
  9. Obtain international drivers permit.  √Complete!
    We applied May 8th and received May 21st.
  10. Cancel internet in our apartment
  11. Cancel mobile phone service
  12. Sell Car  In progress with the Citroen dealer in Fuengirola.
  13. Cancel car insurance
  14. Inform Banks and Credit Cards of our plans.  √Complete!
  15. Give notice at apartment.  √Complete!
    We notified our landlord months in advance, so he would be able to plan and prepare for the busy summer season.
  16. Book Flights √Complete!
    If you recall, we scored a killer deal on our flights from Europe to Southeast Asia.  (Facebook post January 16, 2014 – YIKES! We are committed now! Southeast Asia here we come.  I just purchased our one-way flights from Stockholm, Sweden to Bangkok, Thailand. Norwegian had a crazy good deal only $1400 in total for the 4 of us.  I even added 2 meals, reserved seat and checked luggage for us each.)  We purchased a total of 3 one-way flights for this adventure. Malaga to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Stockholm, and Stockholm to Bangkok.
  17. Book 1st week accommodation in Amsterdam.  √Complete!
  18. Book 1st week accommodation in Bangkok.
  19. Book rental car for touring Belgium and France.
  20. Back up laptops
  21. Say “see ya later” to friends.
  22. Reach out to tourism offices and individual companies for potential sponsored activities.

I am sure I am missing something, but either way you get the idea.  It is a stressful time and we all need to be in check with our emotions and vocalize what is on our minds.  Adapting to change is a great life lesson for the kids and they are handling this move like experts.  There have been little to no signals of stress on their part, such troopers.  Me on the other hand, well, I have the occasional WIG OUT!  I am trying to do too much, as usual, and unfortunately the family is nearby to get the venting from my eruptions:-)  Hopefully it isn’t too bad or too often.

On a side note:  When we were going through the Lars and Anya’s rooms we of course happened upon money they each had stashed around.  We don’t want to be left with cash when we leave, so we offered to buy the Euros, so we can use them and then transfer $US into their savings.  Anya looked up the exchange rate and made sure I transferred exactly $95.19 in exchange for her Euros.  She wanted to be sure those pennies went into her savings. LOL  Don’t tell her, but I probably would have just transferred and even $100.


20 thoughts on “Preparing The Trip – Spain To Southeast Asia

  1. Hi Heidi, I learned about you from Tamsen, who met you in Barcelona (I think…?) She says you are interested in Chiang Mai. Please contact me if you have questions as I’ve been wintering there for several years. I wanted to suggest that if you need accommodation when you first arrive in CM, Elliebum is a good centrally located guesthouse with HUGE rooms, one is certainly large enough for your family, and is a great place to get local information. Tell my friends Gade and Paul that I sent you. And maybe I will see you there in the fall. best of luck

    • Hello Anne! Thanks so much for reaching out to us. I was planning on contacting you as our arrival to CM approached. We will likely end up there in Aug or Sept for a few months. I would love to chat more. I’ll send you an email. 🙂

  2. What a great list- and resource for other families. I do not envy the act of moving but am so excited for your new adventures (and vacation!).

  3. Hi Heidi,

    Interestingly, just 2 weeks ago we accomplished exactly opposite: moved from Thailand to Spain. Hence, fresh with memories and experiences of 6 months in Thailand, some notes that you might want to research further before your move:
    1. I am not sure what kind of visa you are planning to get, but note that Thailand is changing it’s visa policies. These changes concern tourist visas only for now, started on May 9 and would go into full effect in August.
    2. We left Thailand 4 days before the coup, so I do not have first hand experience of what is going on there now, but from our pre-coup experience, we avoided Bangkok altogether and went to Northern Thailand instead. Even though protests and unrest in Bangkok were limited to a very particular areas, and usual tourists locations were not affected, but traffic suffered as a result of road closures. We ended up in Chiang Mai and never regretted it.

    Speaking of getting rid of stuff: since you can buy everything you need in Thailand(and some household items could be less expensive), it may be cheaper to bring less things with you, so you won’t get over the airline weight limit.

    If you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer them.


    • Oh that is awesome Elena. That is right, I forgot you just relocated. We do plan to get a multi entry visa and spend a week in Bangkok, then a couple of weeks on the islands and then head to Chiang Mai for a few months. (It will all be flexible, depending on the coup status) So we may tap into you for tips there, especially on where to stay for a few months.

      We really only plan to bring clothing and electronics with us and limited at that. So thanks for the tips.

  4. Hi Heidi! We are doing the same thing! Moving from Central Coast of California to southeast Asia. I don’t know how old you children are (ours will be a senior in high school next year), but I highly recommend Stanford University’s Online High School ( We love the program! It goes from 7th-12th grade. It is a very rigorous program (most of the teachers have their doctorate), but kids from all over the world attend. It may be worth looking into for your children. Safe travels!

    • Hey Veronica! Nice to meet you. How did you find us?

      Thanks so much for that info. We are currently looking into education and have a post coming out Monday on the topic. Our kids are Anya 9 and Lars 12. So glad you stopped by and maybe we will bump into you in SE Asia. I am originally from SF/Oakland and went to college in Fresno and living in San Diego as well as Tijuana (years ago). Anyway, we do love California. Where are you heading in Southeast Asia? Do keep in touch with us.

  5. Thanks Jessie. We are getting very excited! You are going to be mentioned in an upcoming post about how we plan to educate the kids, while in SE Asia. 🙂

    Oh didn’t I tell you? You get to educate them for us. Ha!

  6. Thanks Ann. Oh, it is so exciting. So much to do and we are getting them done, thanks to the list.

    It is funny you brought up the packing and road trip plans. I just wrote both of those down on my to do list about 30 minutes ago, for upcoming posts! Stay tuned. 🙂

  7. I love so many parts of moving, but especially the checklists and decluttering. This has got to be an exciting time for you since you are not only moving to a new country, but from a not-your-passport-country to another not-your-passport-country and shifting the type of lifestyle you’ll have as well. This sounds great.

    I can’t wait to see more of your checklists (especially anything packing) and road trip plans.

  8. Oh Chuck Ha! Yes, that probably should be step number 1 !

    Well, if it is a mess when the time comes, we will just have to go to another country. 🙂

  9. Alyson, we are getting so excited. We rented a “holiday rental” long term, so it had most things we needed. We did however need to buy a couple of sharp knives, two good pans and a couple of blankets. We also have a barbecue and a printer. Other than that, we didn’t accumulate much. I think because we originally planned to be here just one year and then extended, so it was always temporary. We really will be trimming down to much less than we brought with us, so that will be interesting to say the least. So far so good. We will see how many emotional breakdowns we have.

  10. Yes, Michele, it is difficult. The types of things we would store would be a few blankets and perhaps some of our winter clothes (adults). If we knew we weren’t returning, we would just give it away now. That said, if we can’t find a place to store we may just give it away.

  11. Ohhh exciting? Did you buy loads of “stuff” in Spain then? We’ve just been looking at all the things we’ll need for our flat in London. I reckon we can do this thing cheap! A cushin for a pillow each, a fleecy blanket instead of a duvet, dirt cheap towels. I’m quite looking forward to it! Good luck and carrying a pack is extremely good for your thighs and butt 😉 Axx

  12. Great list. I think that putting things in storage if you’re not sure you’re returning must be especially hard. My kids also have local money stashed around their rooms. I just found some money inside a dollhouse. Sigh. They want the fun of going to the Money Changer themselves, so I explained to them how the Bank of Mom offered far superior exchange rates.

  13. Wow! … and I thought moving places down the road was already bad enough :'(

    Glad to see you’re putting your Project Management skills to good use :-p

Come on and tell us what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.