My husband and I never check our luggage when traveling. I remember when we went to Belize and Guatemala for two weeks my friend jokingly said the TSA will be suspicious about a woman going away for two weeks with only a duffle bag. When we were in Scotland and Amsterdam for a month last year I was actually given some grief from one of the agents in Amsterdam (passport control on our return to the U.S.) because of how little I was travelling with. I just don’t like the hassle of checking bags, waiting for bags at our destination and hoping they show up. When we moved to the UK we did decide this time would be an exception to our no checked luggage rule since it would be months before our shipped items would arrive. In this post I’ll touch on what we packed and whether or not I feel it was worth it.
We both bought GIANT suitcases. Actually, they were the largest size allowed on our flight and we managed to weigh in right at the cutoff, so we didn’t pay extra for them. I brought a large purse (the only time you’ll ever see me with a large purse) and a duffle bag on the flight (duffle bag up top, purse under the seat) and Ryan brought… I forget, I think just his laptop bag. In my purse and duffle bag I packed our more sensitive items. These items included our original visa paperwork, tax paperwork, my birth certificate, my hard drive, medications for myself, medications for the Yoda, my DSLR camera, and whatever other stuff I could fit that wouldn’t fit in our checked luggage. Basically, anything with sensitive personal info and medications stayed on us at all times.
What was in our big ole suitcases? Some of this will sound silly but here it goes. Close to half of my bag was dog stuff. For the dogs I brought their rain coats, Yoda’s sweater, a backpack to carry Yoda in (enabling him to join us on longer walks, he has mobility issues), toys (so they’d have something familiar upon arrival), basic grooming tools (nail dremel, nail clippers, and a brush), lots of poop bags, their good harnesses, leashes and I think that’s it. For me, I brought a body towel, hand towel, wash cloth, heating pad, Bible, a bottle opener kind of thing (a tiny magnet), meat thermometer, white noise machine (travel size), plug adaptor, a slightly larger than travel size body wash, full size face wash, two full size tubes of toothpaste, kindle, a little emergency kit with Band-Aids, binder clips, a Ziploc bag with some office supplies (scotch tape, a pen, clips, a little post-it note pad, etc.), tennis balls (to roll tight muscles with), a flashlight, two shopping bags and I think I could probably stop there. That’s not even everything but enough to give one an idea of the randomness of the items I chose to bring. So next would be whether or not it was worth bringing all of that stuff.
The only items I think I should have just shipped were my kindle and the heating pad. I never use that kindle, I only got it for traveling and even then I don’t use it then since I just prefer physical books… also, I can’t read on planes. I reeeallly could have used the heating pad but unfortunately it requires a microwave and we haven’t had one the entire time we’ve been here. It’s a great heating pad (moist heat) but it’s been useless. Every single item other than those two things I have used.
I have been so grateful to have all of these things. Honestly, we could have easily picked up two towels until our shipment arrived but, as silly as it sounds, those towels (Ryan and I brought one each) have brought me a lot of comfort. They’re a gift from my mom and they’re familiar and… it’s hard to explain but I’m glad to have them. It also seemed silly bringing full sizes of personal hygiene items (Ryan gave me a lot of crap about the toothpaste) but it’s been nice not having to worry about buying that stuff for a while after arriving. I really mean it, we have used every single thing other than the two items mentioned, even the scotch tape and meat thermometer.
We are finally getting to the point where we’re really itching for our shipped belongings to arrive. In part this is because we want to see what survived but for me I am getting antsy as the weather is starting to get cold and our warm blankets are in that shipment, actually so are my warmest clothes. We have two blankets that have been doing the trick but I’m starting to wake up cold and am hoping the stuff shows up before it gets colder. We also need extra blankets for the dogs. Of course, we will also be happy to see many other items that we shipped but it’s the temperature that is causing me to long for the blankets and warm clothing. I did bring warm clothing, just not much. I will do a separate post on the items we sent via boat and elaborate more on that after our stuff arrives… it’s taking forever.
To someone packing to move to a new country and wondering what to put in their luggage, I would highly recommend bringing things that you know will bring you some comfort. For me this comes in silly things such as the towels that I mentioned. I have also taken comfort in having nice, warm ski socks that my mom bought me and a cozy, warm shirt that she also bought me. It brings me physical comfort but somehow it also provides emotional comfort. I need all the comfort I can get during this part of my life and I’m so thankful to have these things with me. As I’ve said, I have used nearly all of what I packed (used it a lot) so I have no regrets but those items might be useless to someone else in the same situation. Just think of stupid little things that you use regularly that you don’t want to have to run out and find right away. Also, your usual products might not be available in your new country so this buys you time to just happen across some of these things after you move, rather than running around the moment you get here.
Well, my friends, that’s all for now. I hope this post finds you well.