How Do I Pack For 2 1/2 in Africa (part two)

Imagine that you’re moving somewhere for thirty months, that’s two and a half years. What would you pack? Everything, right? I mean, that’s a move! It’s not a trip, a vacation or a study abroad. It’s a move. But what if all you could bring were two checked suitcases, a carry-on and a personal item? And they can only weigh 140lbs total. Then it gets a little trickier.

Spoiler alert- I am not an expert at packing for two and a half years. So if you stumbled upon this post hoping for instructions or inspiration, I apologize. However, I thought it only fair to walk you through the steps I have taken over the last week to prepare for my journey that begins tomorrow.

As a side note, preparations were started months ago, including purchasing luggage, specific medications, appropriate clothing, etc. This is regarding packing, mostly.

  1. Lay everything you think you’ll need on the floor (or the couch).
  2.  Organize into “departments”: medicines, office supplies, clothing, kitchen supplies, etc.
  3. As you’re packing, try to equally distribute weight among bags.
  4. Realize that you don’t have everything.
  5. Visit the Dollar Tree. Everything is a dollar!
  6. Finish up at Wal-Mart.  Two words: Comfort. Food.
  7. Make sure you have enough razors, because heaven-forbid your legs or underarms get hairy.
  8. Stuff, shove, squeeze, cram.


    Me, sitting on my carry-on to get all the clothes in.

  9. Weigh.

10. Question all your life decisions up to this point.


11. Take out all the books from your suitcases and put them in your “personal item” which is actually  a hiking backpack that you plan on shoving mercilessly under the seat in front of you on the plane.

12. Realize your back will break if you carry all those books.

13. Sigh. Sit Down. Wrack your brain for other things you may not need.

14. Shake your fist at airline regulations! Don’t they know you need your markers and crayons? Seriously, you get very creative when technology isn’t an option.


15. Re-weigh once less-necessary items are removed.

16. Pray the scale is correct because tomorrow will not be fun if it isn’t.

I’ve done this before. It actually seems harder this time around. I think it’s because I know what I couldn’t get in Guinea and what I wished for while there. This time I’m trying to bring all of those things- the comfort food, the sheets and pillows, decorations and other things that will make this feel like home and not just a temporary dwelling. I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to jam a home into two suitcases, a carry-on and personal item, but it is not easy!

Categories: Pre-Departure | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “How Do I Pack For 2 1/2 in Africa (part two)

  1. Oh the memories! We feel it, Jess. Weird mixture of excitement, exhaustion, anticipation and anxiety. It will all soon be past and all the “how will I ever”s will be replaced with “I can’t believe I did it.” Special prayers for you during this time.

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