Now let's see...maybe a good place to start would be what to pack in. And real quick here, I am going to tell you what we use, but there are other options, and no, I am not getting any free kickbacks from the companies that make these things, but if they want to help out, I am not going to complain. We've known others to use a hogpodge of suitcase and handme down bags. That's wonderful. For us, we thought it made sense to buy what would work best for us, all new, because this is a way of life for us now. We'll be using these bags from now until forever. The OCD part of me likes that it all matches too. Makes the luggage carousels so much easier. I know I'm are looking for 12 green duffels and two trunks.
Alright, so we use Contico footlockers and Kelty basecamp large duffle bags. Both of these are the maximum dimensions you can check for the airlines (62 inches). The footlockers are a heavy duty plastic and weigh about 10 pounds (more on why that matters later). The duffels are heavy duty and weight almost nothing. You can get the footlockers online at Walmart, and we just discovered that Lowe's sells them in the stores. The duffels we ordered online for about $25 with free shipping.
We have found that you really do need both. Because of the insanely low weight limit of 50 pounds per bag now (oh for the days when they allowed you to pack them to 70 pounds!) giving up 10 pounds just for the container can seem a bit silly, but there are some things, like your sewing machine, that really need to be packed in something sturdier. A sewing machine in a duffel wouldn't be a great idea. Have you seen how they throw your luggage under the plane? But there are many other things that the duffel bag will work just fine for, especially if you are packing clothes, sheets or towels around them.
Now, one addition to our collection that we just made was an Action Packer. For some reason, these were recommended to me by all my African Missionary Friends, but none of my Latin American Missionary Friends. Not sure why. But the advantage the Action Packer has is that it is a couple inches taller than the trunks. The reason we added it to our collection was I have this lovely stand mixer that is too tall for the trunk. In fact, it was too tall for the Action Packer as well, but my plastics engineer friend who is a TCK took a butcher knife to the inside of the lid and with a little nipping here and there, created a custom lid for my mixer!! I can't tell you how excited I was last night when he solved the problem that has been plaguing us for a year!
pump up pregame music, ok seriously, click on this one! It will crack you up and you're kids will love it!) The best way I have found to get all that stuff you have weeded through and made ruthless decisions about packed is to get it all in one central location. The house we have been staying in this summer has an amazing basement and I all summer I just kept bringing stuff down there as we would buy it or acquire it. And the beauty of this system is you can just leave it and it doesn't disrupt normal life. Also, because it's in our basement, our kids don't usually go down there, which means they aren't pulling out this favorite toy, or that book and running off with it totally messing up your organization!
Next, grab a bag or trunk and start packing. Here's the part that bothers me, you can't pack your like items together. All your books in one bag makes for great organization, but you are going to be waaaaaaaaaaaay over your weight limit on that bag if you do it that way. Over time, you'll get to know how much things weight and you'll figure out how to spread out the big things in and amongst the little things. Oh, and this is a good time to talk about another amazing product, the digital luggage scale. It's the best money we have spent! I start packing and after a few big things I'll weigh it to see where we're at. Weigh your bags as many times as you need to. I also always pack to around 48 or 49 pounds, because giving yourself a little leeway is a good idea. Who knows if the airline scales are going to be a bit off and you don't want to get charged for $50 or $100 for one extra pound.
We numbered all our trunks and bags. I just took a Sharpie and wrote 1, 2, 3 etc somewhere on the bag. Then in the moving note book, I have what is in each bag according to the number. This is good for a couple of reasons. 1. You know where your stuff is. That way you don't have unpack everything to find your pots and pans, you just know they are in bag 4. 2. For customs, you have a list, just in case. and 3. You have a list for the airline just in case that bag gets lost somewhere along the way. I also have started putting the weight of each bag next to the list so I know if I can add a bit more to it or not later.
Here's a secret tip on packing duffels. Once you get it stuffed full and you realize you still have 6 pounds you can use, zip that sucker up, grab the end and shake. And then shake a little bit more. Guess what? You know have a couple of inches to shove stuff! Hurray!
There is always the great fold or roll debate when it comes to clothes. My advice? Do both. Start with laying things flat in the bag and then as you have nooks and crannies that need to be filled, roll. With practice you will get really, really good at this. I promise.
Now, things are probably going to look a lot worse before they look better, and that's ok. This is a process folks. Here's how our basement looked just a few days ago.
Yikes! But little by little, things start to get put into bags and trunks and you can see the progress!
Look! Two packed bags!! Hurray! Pat yourself on the back, and head upstairs and do something else for a little while. And then come back and start again.
Now, something that I have struggled with this time has been how much we are taking. As of today, we are taking 15 checked bags, 4 carryons and 4 backpacks. That seems like a whole lot. And yet, it seems to be what we need. My dear, sweet, husband keeps reminding me that it is just fine. We aren't being frivolous, we aren't extravagant, we have prayed over all the decisions in regards to what to give away, what to buy and what to take. God has provided the money to transport all of these, and this is just the reality of moving a family across the world. Someone else mentioned to me that most people move with a full truck, so 15 bags isn't bad. Again, you aren't more spiritual or godly if you only bring 1 bag verses 15. It's not about that. It is about what does your family need to minister effectivly in the country you are headed. So pray about it, be wise and then don't second guess yourself. You got this! Because, you my friend, are a champion!
So, what is your best packing tip?
Want more? Check out these other posts!
Want more MAW? Check these out
Moving Across the World: The Beginning
Moving Across the World: Toys
Moving Across the World: Buying and Acquiring
Moving Across the World: The Big Day(s)
Moving Across the World: Helpful This and Thats