I have packed my bags many times, and let me just say that moving with the military has been so nice. There is SO much less stress to worry about with them coming to pick up all your stuff! When I was little, we moved back and forth from Africa several times. Each time we had footlockers full of books, boxes to ship, furniture to get rid of because we couldn’t ship it, etc… the list goes on and on and adds up to a lot of money. I love that the military just comes in and packs up all your stuff for you.
With that being said, I also have a love/hate relationship with flying. Ever since I was little it has stressed me out so much. Everything about it is stressful up until you are sitting on the plane with your seatbelt on, taking off. Then I breathe and think,”Now the worst thing that could happen is a plane crash.” Because somehow the stress of missing my flight, my bag being too heavy, not having my ticket, and missing that little step in-between the plane and the terminal and falling into space are all much worse than the plane crashing.
So I am here to tell you all the things that I do to minimize the amount of stress I have in the airport! I need this post as much as you do.
At Least Two Months in Advance…
1. DON’T wait until the last minute. I know you are thinking about skimming this step as soon as you read that. Don’t do it. Read it. It is the most important step!!! Let it sink in. Yes, it is possible to get it done in the last minute. Sure, you can stay up the night before packing boxes to ship and shoving clothes into a suitcase (been there, done that). But take it from someone who has tried it both ways: my favorite way to spend the night before a big trip is curled up in my bed reading a good book. Is it possible? YES. But it takes *gasp*… planning! I know, take a deep breath.
2. If you are questioning it… you don’t need it. It all starts several months before your trip… not a week before. You need to sort. You need to purge. Please do it for the sake of my eyes that burn when I stare at your Hawaiian shirt that Noah wore when he stepped off of the ark. I am all for waste not want not. But it is not wasting to take a bag to Goodwill. Right now I have so many boxes sitting in my room waiting to be shipped… SORT, SORT, SORT. I can not emphasize this enough. If I had not gone to Goodwill with all the stuff that I have not worn or kept because I didn’t know what else to do with it, I would have twice as much stuff in my boxes to ship with nothing to do with it when it reached my destination. Hint: This is the absolutely BEST time to get rid of that gift that you really hated but felt obligated to keep… *oops… must have lost it in the move… darn.*
3. If you are in the military and have the privilege of a TMO shipment… put as much stuff as you can in it!!! There are a lot of things that I kept out because I thought that I would need them, and now I am just having to ship them. And it is a giant pain in the pazootie. Just ship it. Take it from me. You can live without the lamp/tiny vase/high heels… etc. All things that I am getting rid of now *sniff, sniff* because it is not worth it to ship them. I will truly miss that lamp… alas.
4. Use your “occasions” wisely! Birthday coming up? Ask for your bestie to pay for shipping for a box or two! Ask for a suitcase. Whatever. No shame. I know how you think, it is hard to ask for stuff you need when you want to ask for stuff that you want. I am here to gently tell you to put on your big boy/girl pants and start living in the real world. Money is money. And if someone is going to spend it one you willingly, at least put it good use, and not on ANOTHER thing you will have to ship.
5. STOP buying stuff. Those heels? You’re gonna have to ship them. Those ten dresses that you just bought on sale? You just added five pounds to your suitcase. Oh a cute little do-hicky-ma-bobber that would look so cute in my new house overseas… Everytime you want to buy something extra after your TMO shippment has gone out, just think to yourself, “I am paying for the cost of this item plus a 17$ box to ship it overseas.” Just stop. You’ll save the money and you need the space in your bag. When you get to your location, shopping will still exist.
One Month in Advance…
6. Check, double check, triple check, quadruple check that you have all your papers for flying… Keep them in ONE place all together. I suggest a bright folder labeled TRAVEL on the front. And yes, label it, because in the event that you leave it somewhere you can describe it easily to someone else. Print them out, on paper. I don’t care if you have an iPhone, iPad, whatever – I have that too. But something terrible will happen and you need a backup, I’m just saying. Your battery could die, you could drop your phone in the toilet, or just on the ground, or it could get stollen. You think I’m kidding, but you won’t be laughing when you are standing at the ticket counter with no ticket because your phone is dead. Who knows. Plan for disaster to happen and have a backup of everything.
7. Address Change… Blech. If you know your new address, buy some little cards and get them ready to send out. Go ahead and address them and put stamps on them so that all you have to do is stick them in the mail. SO many people have asked for my contact information and rather than telling everyone individually, it’s easier for me just to send stuff out. If you have doctors that you go to, contact them and get a copy of all your records to keep. If you get any of those annoying magazines from companies you’ve ordered from, write “refuse” on the magazine next to where your address is and put it back into your mailbox so that the company will stop sending them.
One Week in Advance…
8. Pack all your bags at least two days in advance. Why, you might ask? Well I shall tell you. DISASTER will strike. There is nothing like the horrible feeling of going to the airport and all you can think about is what will I do if my bag is too heavy. If you pack two days in advance, you have plenty of time to weight your suitcases. If they are too heavy, you still have time to take things out and ship them. Plus, what if you can’t fit all your stuff into your suitcase like you thought you could! I call it practice packing. You can unpack if you need to to get to your toiletries or whatever clothes you need.
9. Final note about carry-ons: Pack a small blanket in your carryon, especially if you have a long trip. I don’t actually use it as a blanket. In addition to my neck pillow(which is cheesy and goofy looking and also amazing), I wad up the blanket and stick it on the seat on whatever part is inevitably poking me, making it impossible for me to sleep. Also pack at least one change of clothes. There is a huge possibility that your bag will get lost. It is a part of life. One or two clean pairs of unmentionables will save your sanity if it does happen. Don’t, on the other hand, pack your toothbrush and toothpaste. Just pack one of those little Colgate wisps (no this is not a promotion, they are not paying me in any way. I have used the product and I like it, that is all.). This way you don’t have to have that little ziplock bag in security and your teeth can still be clean on the plane 🙂
The Night Before the big flight…
Charge all your devices. Then sit back and read a book, because all your bags are packed, everything is ready, and you are not stressed! Wooo!!!
I’m telling you, SO much stress can be avoided if you just plan ahead. YOU can do it!!! It will revolutionize your life, this whole planning thing.