Friday, July 18, 2014

Preparing To Return

The question we hear a lot is "How do you pack for four years?"-and I will be the first to say, "You don't".  Our strategy is pack the things we love, that make it feel like home, and bring enough supplies to last until we can find a suitable replacement in Uganda.

One of our seasoned colleagues has been known to say "Let us know if you need anything... and we'll tell you how to survive without it."

We've already done our first term, so we know we can find shampoo, tooth paste, soy milk, cloth diapers, coffee (but not decaf), children's tylenol (but not oragel), etc...

Something that I've found helpful coming and going is my Expat Packing Planner {free download here}.  I'm a list girl.  When my brain is swirling in a million directions, I need a place to write all the things.  The Expat Packing Planner has space to organize your thoughts and be your brain on paper!

Step 1: Sort by like items
Something else that helps us (a trick we wouldn't have thought of before we left) is the two step packing process.  In our basement, we lined one room with all our action packers, and assigned each bin with a person/room- my bin, boys' bin, kitchen bin, food bin, etc. Then we filled each bin accordingly.  Sadly, this is only Step 1.  If you were to fly with the action packers sorted like this, and lost one person's things that would probably be the end of the world.

Here's where step two comes in.  Empty a few bins at a time and re-pack a variety of items (the more variety the better)!  A layer of books, then bulky items, small items, then pad with clothing.  Keep a running list that you can print, and have on the other side, so when you arrive at midnight you know where the boys' blankets are (not that we know anything about that).  Weigh.  And adjust to 49.9lbs.

**Warning** Step 2 looks like chaos.  Trust the process. You will get there!  

Step 2: Re-pack a variety of items  CHAOS

Stay tuned on Monday for a timely reminder from Colossians: What To Do in the Middle of Chaos.

Linking up with the Grove (if we have internet when we get to Uganda Friday) on the topic of "Prepare".


  1. Someone that knows what an action packer is!! Love it!

  2. Wow, this is incredible! So, so helpful! Our theme next week at VA is "Pack." We'd love to share your resources and post. I had one small request though... I hate to even ask because I know you're JUST arriving in country, and I KNOW that craziness. If you're able, send me a quick email at info(at)velvetashes(dot)com and we can "chat." Thanks for linking up with this wonderful post!

  3. brilliant!
    I have downloaded your list making tool
    perhaps this will help with all the sticky note I feel plastered to my brain!

  4. Love it! I've actually written a book (not published, jut on my computer) about finishing well (about preparing for major life transitions) and we are on similar wave lengths! So thankful you've confirmed much of what I've written and said to people for years :). Nice to know I'm not spouting and passing on non-sense! You've made yours MUCH prettier :). Well done!! and thanks so much for sharing!

  5. So, the action planner (bins), did you fly those or ship separately? Trying to decide whether to invest in the bins or luggage.

  6. This is a super helpful post! Is your packing list still available somewhere?


Thanks for joining the conversation!