Packing. The longer you are going for, and the farther away, the harder it gets. Degrees of difficulty, on a scale of 1 to 10:
- Quick weekend drive out of town: 1
- Flying across the country for a week: 2
- Going to another continent in the same hemisphere for a 3-week vacation: 4
- Adding work clothes to any of these trips: +1
- Vacation on another continent in other hemisphere: 7
- Add work clothes to that: +1
- Moving to another hemisphere, when you have no idea when you see your stuff again: 10.
Today, we board a plane to the UK for a 3-week vacation…that’s a 4. But Lisa has conferences there, so we’re at 5. But as soon as we are back, we leave for Australia…which would mean we are at a 10 difficulty. But we think that combining any of the two means you combine the level of difficulty exponentially; that could be 105, but we think 510 is a bigger number, so that’s what we will say the degree of difficulty has been this past week.
Every stage of our move requires specific packing: the few days at friends’ place before going to UK; UK vacation component; UK conference component; back in Canada for a few days; Australia hotel, Australia work for Lisa, Australia job hunting for Dan, Australia post-hotel…
Fortunately, Lisa is Air Canada Elite and can check 3 bags for free. Dan is Air Canada Prestige, so can check 2 bags. This means we can take 5 suitcases of stuff to Australia. Going to the UK is a bit of a challenge though because we aren’t flying back together (that story is too long for a blog post!); officially, we could still check 5 bags but there is a huge chance at least one would get lost…not by Air Canada, but by Dan on the days he is alone. And we’d have to lug them around the UK. So Dan will probably end up doing laundry in Aberdeen and we will take as little luggage as possible.
So what do you pack? The UK component is easy: jeans, shirts, some conference clothes, toothbrush, etc. And some specialty items, such as walking sticks for a day-long hike around Lake Windermere, games, eReaders, camera, laptop…
The Aus one gets tougher. We don’t know where we are living or when we will have our possessions (more about that in a later post). We will be staying at The Lawson Motor Inn for a while, where we can at least keep things in the fridge and there will be some basic utensils and dishes. But if we rent a house before our belongings arrive, we will have nothing. And we don’t want to buy stuff, because we already own it and everything we are taking is good.
So we are taking some strange items. We have plastic plates and bowls, cups, and cutlery from a Tupperware picnic set. We have acrylic wine glasses (and a good cork screw – hotel ones suck!), kitchen tongs, Dan’s Japanese kitchen knives, a cutting board, measuring spoons…sort of like “have kitchen, will travel” except we don’t have a kitchen, just the things that go in one.
We have to bring a whole variety of clothes, because we are going to be in warm weather in the UK and cold (well, cool) weather in Australia. So there are shorts, and there are winter coats. There are sandals and there are gloves. T-shirts and sweaters. And of course, for both the UK and Wagga, Lisa has to look presentable, so she has some suits and dresses (and dress shoes, the scourge of efficient packers worldwide). Dan at least doesn’t have to be too formal in the UK – one restaurant we are going to doesn’t allow jeans, but he has some nice pants with him. For Wagga, he needs clothes suitable for any job interview, so there are dress pants and shirts, jackets and ties (and again with the shoes…dammit).
Some things just wouldn’t fit, so no running shoes for example (no jogging on the Wiradjuri Trail yet), but we did squeeze in a Frisbee for a bit of relaxation. And a cribbage board, a few decks of cards, the full size Carcassone game with all expansion packs. And we stocked up on toiletries, because we are picky about those. Lisa loves Kiehls, and doesn’t know if she can get their products in Wagga or will have to start doing mail order; Dan knows he won’t be able to get his goat’s milk soap that he buys at farmers market, but hopefully can find something similar when the 6 bars run out.
All of the above are just material goods though and if we had to live without them, we could. What we can’t live without is the big folder of paperwork, things like our eyeglass prescriptions, medical files, cat documents, etc. And we have 2 duplicate hard drives, with 250 gb of Lisa’s research data, our photos, and our iTunes files. Technology is a wonderful thing!
Everything else, we are entrusting to Allied Movers. They get our furniture, our dishes, our art (specially built containers for the Alex Janvier and Maureen Enns pieces), our knick-knacks, towels, bedding…our home really. On Monday morning, a lone person came and started wrapping and boxing dishes in our kitchen. A couple of hours later, 3 more people came with huge bundles of paper, lots of boxes, and a lot of energy. Within about 3 hours, almost everything was boxed up, and our couch looked like a huge roast wrapped in butcher paper.
On so today (Thursday…yes, the same day we’re flying to the UK – yipes!), all that stuff was packed into a sea can; it was supposed to happen Wednesday, but someone forgot to order the container! It will go from Edmonton to Vancouver by either train or truck, then get loaded onto a ship where it will float across the Pacific to Sydney. That will take about 8 weeks. Then it goes to Australian customs, who will let off a bug bomb in the can, and then quarantine it for a while. They might want to inspect every item, or none…they have full control over our stuff, and can burn it if they so desire. In a way, as much as it has been stressful planning a move and a trip at the same time, this time away gives our stuff a head-start on its voyage. By the time we get to Wagga, it will be half-way there.
At least we aren’t dealing with the cats ourselves. When we moved to Edmonton, we had two cats and carried them with us in the cabin of the plane. We had an entire suitcase devoted just to them: food dishes, food, litter boxes and litter. But then we didn’t need to bring as much stuff because we knew our belongings would be arriving at the same time as we were. This time, cat moving professionals (yes, these people exist! What a cool job) will be managing the process. More on that to come…