Moving abroad is easy or difficult depending on who you are! I first moved abroad when I was six weeks old. That was a long time ago and since then I have moved to six different countries. Okay maybe I didn’t, my mother did – she just took me with for three of those!
I have moved (expatriated) myself three times,
- to the UK in 2000,
- to Ottawa in 2006
- and more recently to Saudi Arabia in 2012.
I have also moved house about every two years until I moved to Saudi! Here I have lived in the same house for five years.
Guess what? I am moving countries again!
This caused me great stress as I have accumulated a lot of stuff in five years! I have my head stuck on only moving with suitcases – a hang up from moving houses every two years – I think!
Why should you trust me? I am a great packer!
Well, I can pack for ten days in a hand luggage bag. I can also pack for six weeks in Europe in a 30-litre backpack. I travelled to Madagascar with one backpack (60-litre) and a dive bag, for a volunteer dive program. Plus moving my life three times (about to be four) I have picked up a few tricks.
For all my packing whether home or for travel, and irrespective of the length of time I am going for, I always start with planning even if it is in my head!
Prioritise – need, want, would like
Spacing/ size restrictions
Shipping or air freight
These tips seem really simple however they are for packing of any size. In less than two months I must pack up five years of life and leave Saudi Arabia. I started planning in January. I know it seems like a long time to prepare but I started thinking about exactly what I would need. For example, I have not one but three electrical coffee machines and to travel coffee makers. I don’t mean all of them. Yes, they make my life easier but they’re not necessary. I bought them because they make getting up in the morning easier and I love coffee in different ways, see 4 Great Ways To Make Coffee.
When planning I start with the big items like the coffee machines, the squash racket, the yoga mat, the Xbox (okay so I have two Xboxes) and the printer. These items make life easier because you have them. However, they do take up space in your suitcase. I am a list girl, so I list everything I own (not clothes). So I have an idea of what I have. This is the preparatory work for the next stages.
2. Spacing/ size restrictions
Once I have a good sense of what I have – even those long forgotten items – I work out what space I have on my flight out of the country! Which means I am limited to
only two suitcases. Why two suitcases? Because that is the allowance on Saudia flights. Two suitcases of 23 kilograms each. Each airline has their own standard luggage allowances, always good to check them and their weight limits. This is good to know however, I am flying back to the UK before I head to my new home. Sadly, this means storage for anything over a single 23-kilogram suitcase.😱
I moved to Jeddah with one hand luggage bag, two 20kg suitcases and a 23 kg suitcase – I paid extra on departure for the extra one! I want to save some money and not have so much to store. So, I have one suitcase of diving equipment and one suitcase of things I want for my next home (more on that later) and two suitcases for clothes, shoes and stuff – one for work things and one for travel things. So, four suitcases. I am trying to downsize from stuff I want to stuff I need as that is easier to move with.
This is the step where I decide which coffee machines I can’t live without and which … well, I can recycle and make someone very happy. Same goes for the Xboxes… I can only play one at a time! Now it’s highlighter time and without actually packing stuff I can downsize.
4. Shipping/ air freight
If I was shipping furniture then this is where I would start pricing up moving company’s. Looking for deals and pricing up companies that pack your house up and move it to the new location. However, I am only going to need to ship either a suitcase (best case scenario) and worse (more likely) two suitcases so I am hoping to only need overnight air freight (holding thumbs).
These are my four steps to packing up my life and moving to a new country!
What do you do to help you stay sane when packing? Reply in the comments!
Keep following to see the update in May of how it all turns out.
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Do you have any tips on packing to move abroad? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments!