Packing Priorities

As I mentioned in my last post, an overseas move is much different than a regular move because of what you have to leave behind. Chosing what I wanted to take with me I found to be an interesting exercise in determining who I am and who I want to be. When given a limited shipping allocation, I think it’s very revealing to look at what a person chooses to bring for a long-term stay. To illustrate this, I would like to share the decisions I made in this process.


In the intervening time between my last post and now, I’ve had a few minor interesting adventures, but have been too busy assembling furniture and doing more shopping to do much writing.

There was the time I needed to pick up a rug from Ikea which was 6 inches too long to fit in my car, and for some reason Ikea would not deliver it with the rest of my furniture I wanted to order. And because I did not have my Belgian ID card or EU driving license yet, I could not use the cheap short-term van rental options. So the cheapest, most convenient option was to borrow a freight truck that my company loans out to employees on weekends for just this kind of thing, and all you have to do is pay for the diesel you use. This resulted in the somewhat comical situation of driving a 20 foot truck (imagine the biggest truck uHaul has) just to load it up with a rug that was rolled up to 2 meters long and 20 cm in diameter. It looked ridiculous, but unfortunately I did not have the presence of mind to take a photo.

There was the time I went to Brussels for a bible study meeting, but barely figured out how to buy a train ticket in time to get there before they started. And then I missed my planned return train from Schaerbeek, but was saved from being stranded in Brussels overnight by Google Maps transit directions.

Then there was the time some arsehole decided to perform aggressive unscheduled remodeling of Zaventem airport, and then the next day I found out I needed to fly to Jacksonville, FL the day after that to help solve a problem that just ended up sort of going away while I was troubleshooting it. And also my colleague and I picked up some hitchhikers while driving to the Amsterdam airport.

Some of that may warrant more detail later. But that’s not what I’m writing about right now. So let’s get back on track.

In my relocation package, I was allocated 100 kg of shipping for personal items. Plus all my luggage on the flight. Plus I cheated a bit and got an extra 150 lbs included with my car. Altogether about 500 lbs, which is rather a lot. In the car I put car-related things, like my helmet, mechanics tools and floor jack. Nothing terribly important, because it was going to take a bit longer to arrive (in fact, much longer, as it turns out).

In my checked suitcases, all the clothes I would ever wear. Handily, this was about 90 lbs, leaving room for a few books and games. In my carry-ons, my in-flight entertainment (books, laptop), backup hard drives, and camera.

This leaves the 100 kg of air-freight. To make informed decisions about these things, one needs a scale. Specifically, a heavy-duty postage scale, which was surprisingly not available in any local stores. So don’t blame me for losing sales to Amazon, Home Depot, you had your chance.

Prior to this I had made a list of everything I owned (which was a bit of an undertaking in itself…you don’t really know how much stuff you own until you try to index it all, and keep finding more things you forgot about every day for two weeks), and broke this list into four categories: ship, store, sell, trash (there is a slightly more alliterative word to use for the 4th category, but this is a family show). Assigning these categories was when my decision fatigue properly started to come about.

Fortunately, everything on the first draft of the ship list totaled up to about 80 kg, so there were no more hard decisions to make about that.

So what did I decide to ship? What kind of person am I? Here’s the rundown.

  • Books, as I mentioned for the luggage. Not a lot, just a few that I plan on reading or referring to, which basically just means Blue Mars and a few assorted religious texts, and a recipe book. But the important point here is I brought physical books, not an e-reader, because I like books.
  • Movies. I am quite proud of my movie collection. I in fact bought a couple dozen more movies to fill it out with American-region copies before leaving the country. Again, physical copies, not digital downloads. Just discs in a CD wallet though, bringing the cases was untenable.
  • PS3 and X-Box 360, plus games. I had a lot invested in these systems, and I plan to keep playing those games. I need the American consoles to play the American games (and blu-rays). No PS4 or X-Box One in my future, all my old favorites (dating back to PS1) will do fine.
  • Desktop computer + monitor & accessories. Could I have bought a new one? Yes. I wouldn’t even have run into any regionalization problems (probably) with Steam or GOG, and I had my backup ready to go. But this was a custom-built machine that I wanted to have available as soon as possible. Lord knows I didn’t need more shopping to do. Weighing in at 23 kg, it was the heaviest thing on the list, so you know it was important to me.
  • Die-casts. I make a slight hobby of collecting them. I’d hate to leave them all behind in storage. They’re a key part of my decor! And they’re not that heavy. So I brought my four favorite 1:18 models and my 1:24 DBR-9 for my desk at work.
  • Tools. A few multi-tools, screwdrivers, and tape measure. They came in incredibly handy.
  • Bike accessories. Not my bike, that was too big and heavy. But a few accessories to put onto a new one.
  • Racquetball racket. I hope to play some, even though I haven’t in five years, and it’s a nice racket, and not too heavy.
  • Drink ware. Pint & shot glasses. Just a few of the nice souvenir glasses I have.
  • GoPros + accessories. Because I’m xtreme.
  • Camera lenses + tripod. Because I’m artistic(ish). (Good thing I bought that carbon-fiber tripod!)
  • Sleeping bag. Always comes in handy. It’s nice quality, and I plan to go camping (at least at racetracks). Although my tent was old and bulky enough that I didn’t bring it.
  • One blanket my mom made for me when I was younger.
  • Board Games. 11 of them. Not including expansions. Plus my D20 dice set. Because of course. Have you met me?
  • Binoculars. For stargazing. Hopefully.

So it turns out all the things I find most critical to my existence fit into two large boxes, a couple suitcases, and the trunk of a Lotus Elise. It’s a strange thing to look at, everything packed up like that. It makes my life seem so compact. I wish I’d taken some pictures.

However, there are some things I regret not shipping. Aside from the few pint/shot glasses, I didn’t take anything from my kitchen. This is mostly because kitchen wares are quite heavy, and relatively cheap and easy to come by. So because I couldn’t take everything from my kitchen, I tried to avoid decisions by taking nothing from my kitchen. Now that I’m here though, I wish I’d at least brought my knives, cutting board, and measuring spoons. It wouldn’t have been that heavy, and it would have gotten me that much closer to cooking that much sooner. It was just a little harder to find those things all at once than I thought it would be. Actually, if that’s all I regret, I think I did pretty well.

So that’s who I am in 100 kg or less. Approximately. I encourage you to think about this for yourself, you may learn something.

Author: haveracecarwilltravel

Moved from America to Belgium in early 2016 (mostly for the racetracks) and brought my Lotus along for the ride. I also enjoy putting my D7000 to good use.

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