The First Fifteen-Hundred-Pounds Post

[This is the second post in a series. You 
might want to start with the first one here.]

While exchanging Christmas presents with two lovely gals I’ve known since elementary school, the conversation turned to my brother’s recent move to Saudi Arabia. I told them that Stephen’s fifteen-hundred pounds of personal belongings–the weight allotted to him by the moving company–had recently arrived over there, and he had been transferred into a larger apartment in anticipation of his family’s arrival.

One of my friends was impressed that Stephen and his family were able to cut back so much. “Fifteen hundred pounds is not very much!” she said. “That’s crazy!”

I agreed. It is crazy.

But my other friend chipped in: “I don’t know. Their apartment over there is furnished, isn’t it? Other than clothing, what else do you need? Just clothing wouldn’t weigh fifteen hundred pounds, would it?”

So I started thinking about it. She was right that Stephen’s apartment is furnished, so they didn’t have to pack any basic furniture. What did they need to pack? And how did they decide? I asked them.

Before proceeding, I should note that Stephen did actually rent a storage unit here in the states for family heirloom sorts of things that they knew they really wanted to keep longterm but didn’t want to lug across the globe. That helped.

Still, they have two little children, one of whom is still sleeping in a crib. A crib needed to be packed. And you can’t buy car seats over there or other things that Americans consider standard for child safety. So those things got packed. They packed blankets and pillows and other linens. They took their stand mixer and sewing machine. Their pots and pans and other necessary kitchen items. (If you have ever vacationed in a “furnished” apartment or condo, you know how important it is to pack your own cooking stuff if you cook often.) Some basic tools. Some small decorations to make their home feel like home.

And before you knew it, they were within 10 pounds of their limit.

I tried to have a conversation with J about what we would pack if we had to get down to 1,500 pounds, and he didn’t think it was interesting enough to spend time chatting about. “At whatever point in the future we actually find ourselves in that position, I am happy to discuss it,” he said.

Okay, he didn’t say those exact words, but I’m paraphrasing his tendency toward preferring practicality over “what ifs.”

For the record, he also doesn’t find it interesting when I want to talk about what three personal items I would want to take with me when I am on the TV show Survivor. (I don’t know why he doesn’t think that is a practical discussion.)

But I know, friends, that you care about these things, don’t you?

So, let’s see… fifteen-hundred pounds…


7 comments on “The First Fifteen-Hundred-Pounds Post

  1. Liz's Dad says:

    Well Liz you do bring up some interesting topics….and I think that it depends where you are in life that determines what you deem important. For Stephen and Kelsie (and others with young children) they must plan for their children’s comfort and safety as well as their own ease in raising them. Being much older, I believe I would travel a lot lighter. When I was going to Israel for 3 weeks I filled 2 suitcases and carried my computer. That was even way too much for 3 weeks. I should have gone with only 1. But if I was going for 2 years and someone was paying for 3/4 ton and I didn’t have to carry it? I too would go for comfort of familiar sheets and pillows and towels….yes a few tools like my power drill…..maybe my comfy chair too. But no flint. :>) Wait, I might want to rethink that.

    • elizabeth says:

      Thanks for weighing in!

      I have found that, most of the time, you can always make do with less as far as travelling goes. Maybe not always, but most of the time. J & I carried backpacks for our two weeks in Italy, and not those big mountain climber packs, just a normal sized backpack.

      The thing with Stephen and Kelsie is that they are also thinking super long-term, since this is probably going to be a way of life for them from here on out. And you’re right–if someone’s paying to ship your stuff, you’ll definitely take more! I wonder how much they would have packed if they had to pay to ship it all themselves?

  2. Mom says:

    you do love ‘Survivor’, don’t you? lol!

  3. Rebekah says:

    We functionally had to make those decisions when we lived in Copenhagen. Except we had to fly over whatever we felt we needed for the year in the five pieces of luggage given us by the airlines. In our case we flew over a pack-n-play (one piece of luggage), four rubbermaid tubs (that couldn’t weigh collectively over 265 pounds) and five small carry-ons for laptops and the like. I was also pregnant on the way over so had to pack maternity and non-maternity clothes, baby clothes and clothes for my son who would go from 13 months to 22 months during our stay.

    Basically, you learn to pair down to the barest of the bare and hope you can afford to buy what you need when you get there and/or meet nice people who will let you borrow what you need.

    • elizabeth says:

      You always impress me, my friend. 🙂 Then again, your cute little home at the moment is like one of those IKEA living-in-375-square-feet displays. You’re just good at those things!

      Before you moved to Copenhagen, were you living in an apartment here in KY? And did you put stuff like furniture in storage? I’m trying to remember what you had in your apt here in KY when you came back to the states.

      One of the reasons I’m bringing up this topic is that I kind of like paring down “to the barest of the bare” as you say here, or at least I think I do; it makes me feel refreshed to simplify. But then again, I’ve never had to get down to 4 rubbermaid tubs’ worth of personal belongings. 🙂

      • Rebekah says:

        Before you moved to Copenhagen, were you living in an apartment here in KY? And did you put stuff like furniture in storage?

        We were. Honestly we didn’t have to make too many hard choices about what we were leaving behind in our storage pod. We got the smallest storage unit and didn’t have any trouble fitting everything in.

        On the other hand, when we moved to Iowa, we moved into a 700 square foot rental house from a 1000 square foot apartment. The rental house has a garage but I was determined that we had to be able to park our van in it. That’s when I really had to take a good hard look at our possessions and make a lot of hard choices. We Craigslisted most of our furniture, sold 14 boxes of books, donated endless boxes of household items. There were many things I liked and even used regularly that just had to go because we didn’t have the space. Three weeks later the van was in the garage and I haven’t missed much of what we sold or gave away.

        Full disclosure: I do have one piece of heirloom furniture and a very large dollhouse at my parent’s house, but other than that all our possessions are here with us.

        One thing I was a little concerned about was our ability to be hospitable though I’ve figured how to configure things such that we can host up to 5 adults fairly comfortably (if a bit cramped).

        I think it’s a much harder thing to practice not accumulating stuff. Especially after Christmas. I’m lucky because I’m basically forced to donate or sell older items to make way for new things given our space constraints, but I wasn’t as good at that when we lived in larger spaces.

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