Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How to fit your life in a suitcase

Oh wait, I actually wish I could find a nice, concise list showing how to do this. Especially for moving overseas.

When we moved to Guatemala, Ben drove through Texas and down through Mexico in a Toyota 4Runner- providing quite a bit more packing space! This especially impacted the heavier home/kitchen items I was able to bring. This time that's not an option.

Flying to Abu Dhabi with everything you own in a suitcase presents several challenges. Since Etihad, the Abu Dhabi-owned airlines, weighs even carry on luggage- (15 pounds or less,) we have to be more discriminating about our carry ons. However, Etihad gives you two checked bags of 50 pounds or less (unless you want to pay more for 60 pounds or much more for 70 pounds.) We are using duffel bags to eliminate as much of the luggage weight as possible.

So that's two checked bags and a carry on per person. Or not. Since we have to connect with Etihad via American Airlines we have to pay for the second checked bag with them just to get it to Etihad because American only allows for one checked bag.

Most of the household items can be purchased from teacher's who are completing their contract in Abu Dhabi, and for us, are not worth bringing/shipping. To ship a 50 pound suitcase to Abu Dhabi is almost $300, while it's closer to $150-$200 for an extra suitcase on the plane... so we're just packing necessary clothes, baby stuff and homeschooling items in our luggage.

Then there's the fun of actually packing for an opposite climate in an opposite culture. Since we dress modestly, the culture part isn't as much of a challenge as the 100+ weather. It's nice to be packing for hot weather while it is cooler here, though; we don't have to pack bulky coats or boots.

It's also important to figure in how fast the kids are growing, since anything that's almost too small will just waste precious space. Wearing something a little big is better than 'barely fits.'

I can't say that I don't like this process, because I find minimizing our life to the bare minimum very cathartic. It's way too easy to gather possessions. Life easily gets choked up with stuff. Packing what we really need helps me focus on my family and each person's individual needs. I get to re-evaluate who we are as a family apart from our stuff. And that is freeing.


  1. I am getting a nervous tic just READING this!! I have always found it painful to pack up my life into a box, and to realize that there is so much of it that is not transportable. Maybe this is G-d's mercy, to let us have periods where we can experience material aspects of life being stripped away...and realize that our life continues to go on. To me, that's a comforting metaphor for the Big Journey when all things material crumble away and we are left with that which is spiritually-transportable.

  2. It will be exciting to follow you on your journey, good luck with that packing!

  3. Whoah! I have been away from your blog for a while, being that I am out of Guate and all... so congrats on the beautiful baby!!! But, what is this, you all are not returning to Guatemala? You'll be living in Abu Dhabi?

  4. Hey Miss Trudy,
    The contract in Abu Dhabi is for 2.5 years, but we'll be traveling and hope to come back to Latin America and if not moving back, at least visiting Guate again.

  5. Well, good luck to you! I will continue to follow your blog. What is it that you will be doing at Abu Dhabi?

  6. I'll be homeschooling Talia and taking care of the baby and Ben will be teaching high school English.