Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Packing to Move to Another Country

I'm currently struggling to fit everything that I want to bring into my backpack. No surprise there! Even with all the traveling I've done, I still find it hard to narrow down to what I absolutely NEED to have, rather than what I want or what I feel I should have.
And this trip is even harder. I'm moving to Guatemala, not just going there for a week or two. I have to take my life with me. And it's weird to see what parts of your "life" end up getting put in the Value Village pile. :)
Here are my tips for efficient packing for a long trip or move to another country.

The dress in question.
So pretty!

I've invented an acronym for packing: WIWI = Will I Wear It?
Going through my closet, I found a lovely purple dress that I bought for a party and wore once. I'm thinking, "Oh, it's so pretty! I should bring this in case there's a party to go to!"
But that's when my WIWI senses kick in. I can tell this is a WIWI situation because of the words "should" and "in case".
In the three or four years since I bought the dress, I never wore it again. It collected dust, literally dust, in the back of my closet. So why would I think I would need it for Guatemala? I'm sure there are parties there but I'm also sure there are dress shops.
Good-bye, purple dress. Into the Value Village pile!
Many travel bloggers suggest that no matter how long you are traveling for, only pack enough clothes for one week... and do laundry! Seeing as how I'm moving into an apartment that actually has a washer and dryer (yay!), this is the rule I'm following.
Another packing light tip: wear your bulkiest clothes on the plane. I'm thinking of layering a tank top, t-shirt, and cardigan under my raincoat. Yeah, I'm going to be sweltering hot! But once I'm on the plane, I'll just remove a few layers and use them as a pillow for a quick nap. Brilliant.
Extra tip: if you're planning on visiting any religious sites and you're a woman, be sure to pack a skirt.  For example, the Vatican has a strict dress code and they stick to it. Another church I visited had jackets on a rack outside for people to wear to cover their short sleeves.

Another efficient packing tip that I've read about online is regarding toiletries. Never pack bottles of liquid toiletries, such as shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, etc. All of those things can be purchased at your destination.
I'm trying to practice this, but it's hard for me because I hate to throw stuff out! I've got half bottles of shampoo and conditioner that I want to bring because it would be wasteful to toss them. I've got hand sanitizer and lotion and sunscreen and even toothpaste. My face scrunches up with dismay when I think of just chucking them in the trash. I'm hesitating on fully implementing this tip but we'll see what gets tossed when it comes down to the wire.

Oh, gosh, shoes. I have to say, I'm not the stereotypical woman with a closet full of shoes. I hate shoes actually. I'd rather go barefoot. But in many situations, that's not appropriate! (Barefoot at the airport = trip to the windowless room.)
For Guatemala, I've been told there are two seasons: dusty & muddy. I've got to be prepared for both!
I've got a good pair of running shoes, a raggedy pair of sandals, and the rubber boots and cute crocs I showed you in the last post. But they are soooo bulky. How do you pack these? Honestly, they take up so much space.
I really am tempted to chuck the sandals but ... but ... I love wearing sandals!
Then I think about chucking my running shoes but... but ... I can't wear sandals in the rain or hiking in the forest because of nasties living in the underbrush, so I need the running shoes.
The rubber boots and crocs are coming for certain. (I imagine they're high-fiving each other in the corner. "Yeah, we're in!")
So this tip is a struggle for me right now. But I do know that whichever shoes come with me, the key is to stuff things inside them to utilize all available space.

Easy: Roll. Roll roll roll roll roll.

First thing to do: check with your airline for their carry-on restrictions and freebies. Here is the Delta website. Check your own airline's webpage and note the dimensions, weight, and anything you can take on for free.
Because I'm taking my cat, she counts as my carry-on. This is so frustrating to me! I'm paying $200 to bring her. What is that fee for? I think I should still get a carry-on bag. *pouting*
As it is, I'll have Willow in one hand, my big rainbow umbrella in the other, and a small camera bag over my shoulder. Willow's carrier has pockets in it that will be stuffed with stuff, plus the pockets of my raincoat will be brimming with things as well. Security is going to be fun! (NOT.)

So those are just a few basic packing tips for anyone heading out on an adventure. I hope they were helpful. If you have any packing tips for traveling, please post them in the comments. ¡Buen viaje!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Seventeen Days To Go!

It's getting down to crunch time here in Canada. Seventeen days until we get on a plane and change our lives forever. Couldn't be more excited!!

The checklist I made a few months ago is almost all checked. Willow and I have received all our shots. Bert is working on his last few Twinrix boosters.
I'm taking Willow's papers to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency tomorrow to get signed by them, then I have to mail them to the Guatemalan Embassy in Ottawa, and have them mail them back to me before we leave. This is stressing me out! I think I will write an entire blog post about the process of taking a cat to Guatemala later on when it's all finished. I will try to remember to link back to it here.

Both Bert and I sold our cars. Very strange to be on foot again. I've had a car since I was 25, I think. But it's quite refreshing to walk places, although it's still very cold! A lot of our snow has melted in the past week but the wind is very nippy.
I had to buy boring black rubber boots because
they were the only ones that fit,
so to make up for that I bought
these cute fake Crocs!
Also, lugging groceries back from the store puts a crick in my neck. Bert laughs at me huffing and puffing along the road. He says, "You're going to DIE in Guatemala... of a heart attack!" Admittedly, I am out of shape. Very out of shape. But I am also determined to not let that stop me. I know that every time I push myself to walk more, it will be that much easier next time. I'm thinking the hills of Guatemala might kick my butt into shape. Another post for the future, eh?

What else are we doing to prepare? Photocopying and taking pictures of all documents for safe-keeping. Changing our mailing addresses with places like the bank, the government, etc. Taking a lot of junk to Value Village. Throwing a lot of stuff out. Oh, and shopping! I got a nice fat paycheque yesterday and trekked up to Walmart to buy some essentials: socks, underwear, Aleve, and rubber boots. :D

I've got more sorting and packing to do, so I'd better get to it. Nos vemos!