Our pack-out date for moving to Cairo is in the works, which means we should hopefully be all packed out less than 2 months from today! Sometimes two months seems like forever, but when you’re preparing for an international move, it flies by! Along with sorting out belongings and making a pile for a yard sale and trashing still more, I have been working on my packing list.
But why would I need a packing list? Isn’t everything moving?
Well, yes and no.
An international move means our stuff is going every which way and even the stuff coming to us is coming different ways. We will have:
Storage here in the US-a bulk of our furniture (our apartment in Cairo is furnished), memory items, and things we will need later but not for at least 2 years.
Suitcases–we get 2 a person and this is everything we need for the first month
Unaccompanied Air Baggage–aka UAB–this takes about a month to get to us. It’s a set weight amount per person with each subsequent person getting less weight. Our family total should be about 700 pounds.
Household Effects–aka HHE–aka sea freight (plus often truck freight as well)–takes 2+ months and can get held up. In Delhi it took 2.5 months to get to us. I’ve heard horror stories of 6 months! I’m packing with the assumption of 3 months and hoping for faster. Our weight limit is 7200 lb for this.
As I’ve been sorting rooms, I’ve brought along my ipad and written down what will go in what shipment. Suitcases will be much like any trip we go on, but with extra toys for the kids and more clothing. My plan is to use one suitcase worth per kid for clothing, shoes, toiletries, sleep aids (baby monitor, noise machine, night lights, etc), plastic dishes, and other necessities and the other suitcase worth per kid with toys and books and fun things. I am going to try and fit the baby highchair in one suitcase. It’s fairly compact, so should fit. He technically CAN eat without it, but then I have to hold him or be prepared for wanderings and I like him contained.
DD (remember, that means dear daughter) will have just turned 4 by then and will be able to help pick out which most favorite toys come in the suitcase. She is very concerned about her toys and whether they are all coming. They are, but I’ve explained that some come by plane with us, some by a special plane, and some by boat and take longer. My 2 suitcases will have clothes and personal necessities in one and then household necessities in the other. DH’s (dear husband’s) will have lots of work clothes and other personal items.
The UAB is a bit trickier to pack. That’s the stuff that you don’t have to have immediately, but you don’t really want to wait til the HHE arrives. Our apartment is furnished with the basic furniture and then the embassy provides a welcome kit with supplies we borrow until our HHE arrives. That includes basic linens, basic kitchen items, shower curtain, trash cans, etc. It’s a great thing to have, but it still only covers the bare minimum.
So I’ll be packing a lot of kitchen items in our UAB as I like to cook and bake. A bulk of the kids toys will come UAB as well, though many of DD and DS’ books will need to wait til the HHE due to weight. Clothing the next sizing up for the kids, our printer, some basic tools, beach towels, office supplies, and some favorite food will round it out.
I’ll use my packing lists to start making piles. I find it makes less confusion for the movers if I can have whole rooms, or at least whole piles, be one type of shipment. Much easier to say “This room is all UAB” than try and point to things as “this is UAB. That is HHE. That is storage. That is UAB too” etc etc. As I buy things we need, I’ve started putting them in piles. By May, the house will be full of piles!
If you are interested in my list to guide your own packing, here is what I’m bringing. It is important to know what your future housing provides and how easy things are to get there. For Delhi, we brought much more food and consumables as it was harder to find or pricier. For Cairo, we’ll have an easier time finding things.