I got my moving abroad bible (The Expert Expat) in the mail yesterday. I have yet to read all 270-something pages (and quite honestly, some of the contents are completely irrelevant to our situation so I probably won't ever ready all 270-something pages) but there are certain parts that I have already read and re-read.
There is a great list of things you should probably have in your carry-on luggage. Among the list of "items that solve practical problems" and "items that provide comfort" is a list of documents that will be essential to not only keep safe, but probably handy as well.
Of the over-twenty items on the list, here is the list of documents that I am going to be carrying with me.
1. Passports and Visas
Start early getting these documents in order. We took Ada's passport photo when she was barely one-month old. We are still in the process of securing her visa nearly 5 months later. There is a lot of run-around to deal with, so be prepared to call several consulates, post offices, advisers, banks and the like. I am also taking copies of these things. (Side note: if you change your name, renew your passport within a year of getting your name changed and you could save yourself a chunk of change. It might be worth it even if you don't have impending travel plans because you never know when your husband might decide to move your family to a foreign country).
2. Flight itinerary, plane tickets, and consent form
The itinerary and tickets are a given. But the consent form took us off guard. Basically Mike and I had to give each other consent to travel with our daughter into a foreign country. This document has to be notarized by a bank.
3. Extra passport-sized pictures for permesso di soggiorno and other host-country requirements
When we arrive we have to get permission for residency through the local police in Bologna. Having some photos on hand (the same ones we had to send with our Visa Applications and our passport applications).
4. Ada's birth certificate, our marriage license, our social security cards
Proof that we're American, married and the legal parents of our daughter. I also made copies of these documents which we'll take with us.
5. Insurance Forms
I have yet to figure all of our health insurance details out completely, but my advice is to start early. It takes a lot of phone calls. And time-zones make some calls really hard to make. We're also doing research on emergency insurance in Italy and deciding how we want situations handled at home (in the States) if an emergency arises. (Submit your heaven-forbid-game-plan to your parents, or whomever you trust the most)
6. Drug, eyeglass and contact lens perscriptions
Even though we're going to be taking a year supply of these things (if we can get a year supply of some things...) we're bringing along signed prescriptions from our doctors, just in case.
7. Health and Vaccination records
This takes a bit of time as well. Unless you're uber-organized and have your immunization record (and your husband's and your child's) up to date and in a nifty little file. We are requesting our immunization records from the county health department and our pediatricians. Then we are taking this documentation to our family physician who will review/consolidate the records and give us the necessary boosters (ouch!) before we leave. It's also a good time to get checked out and make sure we're all healthy before we leave.
8. Address book, check book, emergency contact info
9. School documents
10. Housing documents
All of these documents are neatly filed in my beautiful new Peter Walsh accordion folder (love) and will be taken with me in my "personal item" on the flight.