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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Help! I am moving overseas and have some questions!

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Help! I am moving overseas and have some questions!

Ah, the PCS season is upon us yet again this year! It caught me completely by surprise until I saw a half dozen moving trucks on my street all in the space of a week. My kids are also lamenting the loss of some of their friends. I've also cooked a meal or two, played taxi service and watched a few pets to help out where I could. Isn't it nice how, in a military community, you can rely on others to help out? I've also noticed my inbox is more full than usual, all with questions on peoples' upcoming moves. Please be sure to read my moving articles, as I do answer a lot of your questions there. The two questions I received today are listed below - involving traveling with multiple children and learning the host language after arrival.

Question:


Hi,
My husband has been stationed in Hohenfels Germany, he's already there, and I will be flying over with my 2 sons (3 & 1 yr old) by myself. I've read as many tips from everywhere as I can but when it comes to requesting my tickets from TMO - I was wondering if you can tell me what to expect. Can I request a bulk head row? Can I ask for certain flying times? I thought if I could fly out of the international airport at night, it might go better for my kids. Is there anything I should know about flying by myself? Have you done it? I have a dozen questions and no one to ask. Like -
Can I take a double stroller?
How many carry ons do I get?
How many pieces of luggage?
HOW AM I GOING TO GO TO THE BATHROOM ON AN AIRPLANE WITH 2 SMALL BOYS!!!???
I've never used one of those cart things, how would I go about asking for one?
I read somewhere you can sometimes get a bassinett for the plane ride? Have you heard of that?

Answer:

I have flown with two little ones. I took a stroller with the babycarrier/carseat for the little one. For the older one, I had a boosterseat (airplane approved) which I had in a huge diaperbag with supplies for both. I checked the older one's carseat at the front and got it before we got in the car at our destination. I then also had a backpack for myself and a frontpack baby carrier to carry the little one when my arms got tired and for when I wanted to load up the stroller with my bags. The stroller you can take all the way to the plane. You can gate check it, which means you'll get it back immediately after you arrive at your destination as you walk off the plane.

As far as on the plane, the flight attendants are very helpful if you have to use the bathroom. They always wanted to come by and hold the baby and the little one stayed in his seat with no issues when I flew. I just had his favorite things in his diaper bag...and this was before portable DVDs...didn't need them. The droning sounds of the plane are soothing and as long as the kids don't have ear problems, they should be fine. When you hear a screaming baby on the plane, it is almost always their ears and the pressure....do a google search for relief as it involves hot water and cups to relieve the pressure...sucking helps too, so pacifiers, bottles, breastfeeding, whatever it takes. Mine are 20 months apart, and I flew when the little one was 4 months old.

When you make your travel arrangements, ask about the bassinet. I am not familiar with them myself. Typically airlines keep the bulkhead seats to sell last, as this gives the airline and the flight attendants some flexibility in seating and helps when you have someone who needs more room or whatever. Go ahead and request the bulkhead, considering your situation, they might give it to you. Oh, one thing I almost forgot, at least from the East Coast, overseas flights leave in the early evening, so it fits in with what you are requesting.

You're not going to see those luggage carts until you get to baggage claim. Most have a money slot (so have quarters and 1 euro pieces with you as I have heard a quarter can be used instead of a 1 euro piece)...and then you return them to get your money back (German grocery stores do this with their carts too...the US should do it and maybe there wouldn't be carts all over the parking lots).

I would get one of the skycaps to bring your luggage to the check in. I hope I answered most of your questions.


Question:

My husband and I are from Puerto Rico and he just got his assigment to move in work in Baumholder Germany. Us being from PR and you must know this is a total change for us.

I'm worried about a few things already but I'll be checking some stuff out using your blog information. My husband sent me a program to start learning German, but I find it a little difficult to understand and I read in some part of your blog about German classes. Is this available on Baumholder base for the spouses?

Answer:

You should find that your base has both conversational German classes (typically run by the inprocessing center or the USO or some other entity) and then "real" German classes at the college level which you'll find at the education center. These are more intensive (you learn all the rules, etc) and cost more. The conversational should not cost more than 100 euro per 5 week term.

I think it's great that you'll be learning German. Many don't even bother as English is widely spoken, but it always shows class when you at least try to learn the language of your host language and you'll find the Germans respect you more for it.

Thanks again for your questions and enjoy your weekend!

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3 Comments:

Blogger Linda said...

I would add, to the first question: Request as FEW connections as possible. Flying with a 15 month old and 4 year old, we had 3 connections...it was tough to move all that stuff alone. Once you are overseas, there is generally no assistance (especially if you're flying Air France, trust me on this), and they are not necessarily patient with you as you move from place to place.

Diaper bags are not generally counted as carry ons...so you will be allowed a carry on for you and each child, along with a diaper bag. But LLMW's advice is good to take as few as possible.

A bad experience at the De Gaulle airport in France reminds me that the less you have to deal with and keep track of, the better. I had 2 car seats, but one didn't fit the airplane's seat, so that got stored...along with an umbrella stroller and a folding luggage cart (this was INDISPENSIBLE for toting 2 carseats and 2 backpacks!)...they were scattered about the airplane and caused much grief when we were deplaned in a hurry to make our connection. Luckily, everything managed to find its way back to me. And if you DO have connections, try to get a good 2 hour or so distance between them. We lost 1 1/2 hours on the very first flight, and barely made the first connection, which was also 2 hours late to its next destination, causing the mid-plane deplaning, etc)

July 27, 2009 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Excellent post! I am so used to flying non-stop (spoiled flying United from Dulles to Frankfurt) that I completely forgot about connections!!! Oh yes, you want to completely avoid them...even if you have to drive a bit to stage yourself at an airport farther away from home where you WILL get a non-stop flight. I have fortunately never had to deal with that one, although I did do something similiar stateside with a toddler and being pregnant (that was enough already).

De Gaulle is a horrible airport to go thru...I'd choose Amsterdam over that any day...but be prepared to at least walk a long distance to catch your next flight in Amsterdam.

I've been out of the baby market so long, but I have lately been seeing collapsible and lightweight strollers that carry two little ones...one with a snap-in baby car carrier and a stepstool seat thing for the toddler. That sounds handy!

July 27, 2009 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger Kristie said...

Wish I had found this wealth of information two years ago... before we packed up and moved to Souda Bay Breece!

December 9, 2009 at 11:17 AM  

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