Oh my F-god – we spend the entirety of yesterday packing for our moving abroad, and it was much harder than I thought it would be.
You see, I confidently started my list last year of things to pack.
Admittedly, it was long. Over the year, through research, I deleted many items, added a few as I read various travel hacks and was inspired by other digital nomads. Knowing things like:
- There will always be a washer and dryer available.
- I like to wear the same thing every day.
- Do not pack “just in case” things.
There are a lot of digital nomads traveling the world with just a big backpack. If they can do it, why can’t I?
(Oh wait, because I have a family which includes a young daughter maybe.)
Still! I quickly became determined to go backpack 🎒 style. I convinced myself that I could totally do it, because I told myself, “Kristen, you’re a bad-ass, you can totally handle this.” I love minimalism. I love reduced decision-making fatigue. I love feeling free as a bird and not weighed down by stuff.
This led to hours of research on which backpack to buy.
They’re fucking expensive, though if they last, like they should, then it’s all worth it.
Papa always said, “It doesn’t cost more to go first class.”
As some of you know, I went with the Minaal and it’s been great so far. (I tried it on our trip to the United Nations this past February. Though, I was a bit surprised at the heavy weight. I became determined I would likely need to trim from my packing list for Europe … or get excited that my back, shoulders and arms would get stronger as I carried the heft around.)
I was committed to our 7 year old daughter using a backpack, too.
It would be too big for her to carry, but since we’re paying to have that space under the airline seat in front of her, I wanted to get all of her clothes in that, too. I figured if I can get all of my clothes in my backpack, then surely I can pack for her in that backpack. She’s smaller than me!
What’s the secret to packing a shit ton in a backpack? Packing cubes.
Amazing things those are. I can get so much more in a backpack or suitcase if I use packing cubes.
However, one thing. When you stuff that much in those packing cubes, the bag weighs more!
Therein lies a problem.
Discount airlines are super strict on not only dimensions of a carry-on, but also the weight of them. Sigh.
To make matters worse, they don’t all subscribe to the same sizes. That means when we travel via SAS we have certain tiny sizes to deal with and on RyanAir another set of dimensions and weights. Then, FlyBe introduces its own restrictions. It’s frustrating and I wish they’d agree on the same tiny-ass sizes to make that part of airplane travel easier.
“It is neither good nor bad.” ~ Taoism
I get frustrated at those restricted weights and sizes, but I certainly enjoy cheap air tickets.
Anyway, yesterday, I strutted my confident self into the back bedroom to begin packing, and found that it was going to be a long day. We packed and repacked multiple times to make sure we could fit everything we “needed” into the bags we were allowing ourselves. I was taken by surprise that it what I originally planned wouldn’t work. I’d need to take some things out.
As a family, we decided that we would each have a carry-on backpack… the biggest the discount airlines would allow.
Then, we would all have a “personal” item which is a fucking joke on discount airlines. It’s like …. a really tiny purse. Seriously. Smaller than you think. I call it a “why bother” size.
For Kamea, that’s her tiny pink bag for book, iPad mini, earbuds, small stuffed bear, STEAMTeam 5 business cards, and some snacks. I know that seems like plenty to bring, but trust me, it’s packed hard.
For me, that means my extremely small Bagallini purse that I can wear across my chest and will be stuffed with my ipad, kindle, iPhone, Samsung Note 3, tiny paper journal, Rocketbook Everlast Reusable Notebook (this system looks super cool and I bought one for Kamea, too! Can’t start embracing tech and the future too young), and the pens (the appropriate type for the Rocketbook).
Again, doesn’t “seem” so bad, but it’s literally packed tight. My passport and wallet don’t even fit and I’ll have those in a neck stash carrying thing.
At the end of it all, I didn’t even have room for snacks (grass-fed beef sticks, wild-caught salmon jerky, chocolate, etc). So, I took out a pair of shoes to make room for food. I will shove the snacks into my carry-on Minaal. Priorities.
For Greg, that personal item means a small camera carrying case. Very small.
So, that’s three carry-on each plus three “personal” items each.
Plus, we’ll take one suitcase.
I wanted more than ever to be this minimalistic bad-ass ninja packing family where we had no checked luggage, but as of this moment it’s impossible because of Greg (needs stuff for work and his shoes take space) and, well, being a family on our first time abroad.
Admittedly, I’m taking space in the suitcase, too. I want my meat thermometer, another thermometer 🤒 for taking temperature of humans, a couple tinctures, zinc lozenges (there’s only one brand like this), vitamin D/K2, retinol, and a few other small things I couldn’t fit in my Minaal carry-on (well maybe I could but then it’d be over the weight limit). Truthfully, the suitcase will help, but even that was SUPER tough because of the weight restrictions for discount airlines.
Our first attempt … the weight was way over and that was WITH taking out lots of stuff already.
So we took out more. And more.
Part of our challenge, though small, is also the varied weather we will experience. We need to be prepared for that. Also, I know we can just buy stuff over there, but, frankly, I don’t want to always buy stuff – it’s not frugal. Moreover, I don’t know what they have and don’t have yet. I’d rather be safe than sorry for this first adventure overseas.
I think of this first year abroad as getting our feet wet.
I shouldn’t be too hard on myself and be excited that I was able to get almost all of my stuff in one backpack. 💪🏼 Perhaps over the year we’ll learn more about Europe and what we need and don’t need. The freedom of having very little, by way of packing, is extremely attractive.
I’ll post later about what I actually did pack… as of now I’m still trying to get another lipgloss added plus deciding on whether Kamea and I need those extra pairs of shorts. 😬 Please excuse me while I go take some more stuff out of my bag.