Tag Archive | packing

We’re going to need a bigger bag…

The pain of packing one’s worldly possessions into a suitcase was so much that I’m only just bringing myself to write this post five days after the incident took place…and I’m still suffering post-traumatic stress even thinking about it.  Monday 10th January 2011 was one of the most stressful I have ever known, made all the more difficult by the realisation that all my things were just not going to fit.

My first attempt at packing had my suitcase at 28.5kg (my limit was 23kg) and my little ‘shoes’ holdall at 10kg.  At that point, all of the clothes in the ‘maybe’ pile had to go, unfortunately along with most of the ‘can’t live without’ pile too.  My second attempt was better, with my suitcase weighing in at 22.5kg, however the holdall wouldn’t even do up with less than half my remaining belongings.  As a result, my Mum was dispatched to collect a newer, bigger holdall from Argos to fill (and I mean fill) with what was left.  My third and final attempt at packing left my suitcase at 22kg, and my new Puma holdall at 18kg, with my hand luggage consisting of a backpack and a laptop satchel.

My room after packing attempt number one

Hand Luggage

Backpack – Book, guide book, scarf, gloves, slippers, ear warmer, tissues, flu tablets, throat sweets, bottle of water, deodorant, make up bag, glasses, contact lens case, plasters, purse, passport, immigration documents, padlocks, Vaseline, iPod, diary, pen

Satchel – laptop, laptop charger, money, jewellery, magazines

Checked Luggage

Suitcase – Coat, salopettes, handbags x 2, hoodie x 2, hooded jacket, jeans x 2, denim skirt, smart trousers x 2, smart tops x 3, dresses x 6, tops x 10, leggings x 6, tights x 2, underwear

Holdall – Snow boots, Trainers x2, heels x2, ballet pumps x 2, work shoes, heeled boots, wash bag, wash bag with hair bits, wash bag with make-up bits, phone charger, camera bits, scarves, hat, ski gloves, good luck/goodbye cards, framed photo

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The Final Countdown

This time in 4 days I’ll be beginning my descent into Vancouver International Airport, which is for some reason abbreviated to YVR.  It’s getting pretty close now, and the final countdown has well and truly begun this week with the release of the contact details of other BUNAC participants booked onto the group flight.  It just so happens that I’m running low on reading material for the plane, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to matter as there will be 37 other people to talk to!

I was expecting 10-15 others to have booked onto the flight through BUNAC, but it’s great to see that there’ll be even more of us turning up to the airport decked out in ski jackets, bulky hoodies and a million and one layers dragging the world’s biggest suitcases and weeping relatives (just me?).  What’s even better is chatting to everyone and realising that I’m not the only one who hasn’t quite finalised my CV, told my bank I’m leaving the country, or chosen how many pairs of shoes to take with me.

They're not all mine....honest?

Whilst I have noticed that I’m sleeping less and grinding my teeth more (classic anxious Lizzie) I’m also thinking about what to wear to the airport and planning my first few days in the city (classic excited Lizzie).  The more I worry the more I realise that there are dozens of things I haven’t done that I could have, or even should have, but the more I also recognise that none of these things are likely to really make a difference in the long run.

Anyone who knows me (and anyone who doesn’t but has been reading this blog) will know that I like to plan.  I’m not a total Monica Gellar, but part of me definitely subscribes to the notion of ‘organised fun’.  As a result, most of my anxiety stems from the fact that in 4 days time I’m going to be in a brand new situation that I cannot possibly imagine let alone plan for; in essence, there is no plan!  It’s not that I’m not prone to moments of spontaneity (I have a list as long as my entire body of items I purchased on a whim but never used, and it includes a violin and CDJ decks) but I do like to know what’s happening next, so jetting off to live in another country with no job is going to be a scary but liberating experience.

I’m jumping head first into a scenario where I won’t know what the coins in my purse are worth, how to turn my mobile phone Canadian or where to get the bus to the mountains, but the thought of living without any trace of a plan is strangely refreshing.  And if it all goes wrong, at least I’m in good company…

The To-Do List of All To-Do Lists: Version 1.1

With one week and six days until my flight (eeeeeeek!), the time has come to update the to-do list of all to-do lists that I introduced you to last month.  It’s been a busy end to December, what with finishing work, moving out of my flat and of course Christmas, so I was a bit apprehensive about re-visiting the list.  Despite the constant, gnawing feeling that I’m incredibly behind and must have forgotten something, the list looks much healthier than it did last time I checked:

My Flat

  • Hand in written notice to lettings agent one month prior to move-out date (tick)
  • Get deposit back
  • Get reference from lettings agent (scan and save)
  • Get reference from previous landlord/housemates (scan and save)
  • Cancel electricity (tick)
  • Cancel council tax (tick)
  • Cancel TV license (tick)
  • Cancel Sky (TV and internet) (tick)
  • Cancel BT line rental (tick)
  • Cancel contents insurance (tick)
  • Book professional cleaning (fail – company didn’t answer the phone)

My Car (actually my boyfriend’s, so I don’t have to do much in this section)

  • Sell or store car (decided to store)
  • Book service/MOT (tick – extra point for passing!)
  • Cancel car insurance (tick)

My Job

  • Hand in written notice to line manager (tick)
  • Get reference from manager and other partners I’ve worked with (mostly ticked – just waiting for manager)
  • Make a note of contact details for key work contacts
  • Write my Canadian resume (more than one, tailored to job areas) (tick)
  • Send CV to recruitment agencies in Vancouver (half ticked – I’ve started)
  • Search and apply for jobs (tick – I applied for one)
  • Send off speculative applications to companies I’d like to work for

    Thing: EVERYTHING!

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The To-Do List of all To-Do Lists

With seven weeks and two days left until I leave the country, and three weeks and two days until I leave my flat and job to go and stay with my parents for Christmas (not that I’m counting of course), it’s about time I started doing things.  I’m a great believer in lists (ticking off accomplished tasks makes me feel better about having lots to do), and a move such as this requires the ultimate of to-do lists.

I’m sure this list will change dramatically in the next month as unforeseen things get added and unnecessary tasks get removed, but here is version 1.0, nicely divided into areas of my life:

My Flat

  • Hand in written notice to lettings agent one month prior to move-out date (tick)
  • Get reference from lettings agent (scan and save)
  • Get reference from previous landlord/housemates (scan and save)
  • Cancel electricity (tick)
  • Cancel council tax (tick)
  • Cancel TV license (and get refund)
  • Cancel Sky (TV and internet) (tick)
  • Cancel BT line rental (tick)
  • Cancel contents insurance
  • Book professional cleaning

My Car (actually my boyfriend’s, so I don’t have to do much in this section)

  • Sell or store car (decide which!)
  • Book service/MOT
  • Cancel car insurance

My Job

  • Hand in written notice to line manager (tick)
  • Get reference from manager and other partners I’ve worked with
  • Make a note of contact details for key work contacts
  • Write my Canadian resume (more than one, tailored to job areas)
  • Send CV to recruitment agencies in Vancouver, and arrange appointment for January
  • Search and apply for jobs
  • Send off speculative applications to companies I’d like to work for

Every list has to start somewhere...

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My life in colour coded categories

I’ve been adamant all week that this weekend would be a productive one, and if keeping my own promises wasn’t enough to spur me on the sudden realisation that I’m moving out of my flat in 11 weeks today has succeeded in whirling me into a cleaning, sorting frenzy (think Monica from friends but replace the extreme organisation with extreme panic).

My plans for the holiday season are as follows: Move out of flat on Sunday 19th December with help from parents who will be transporting my worldly goods to their house for storage; stay with friends from Sunday 19th until Thursday 23rd December, during which time I need to go to work; leave work for Christmas (and for good!) on the 23rd and get the train to parents house; stay at parents house until January 11th when I will arrive at London Heathrow suitably packed with everything I need (and nothing more) for my working holiday.

I’m going to make somewhat of a large generalisation and assume that the vast majority of 18-30 year olds in possession of a working holiday visa are either living with parents or in private rented accommodation (like me), which means that moving out in itself is relatively easy.  All I have to do is give my lettings agency one month’s notice in writing, which is a doddle compared to the stress of having to sell/rent out a house had I been in the position to own one (which I most definitely am not).

Modern, two bed flat for rent, fully furnished including one disorganised traveller...

The only niggle in my plan stems from the fact that successfully departing from my flat, sending my belongings home to my parent’s attic, and staying with friends for my last week at work all require me to have sorted my belongings into the following categories:

a)      Things I don’t want or need, that nobody else will want or need either, and are therefore destined for the rubbish bin (skip loads).

b)      Things I don’t want or need, but may have some small financial value and can attempt to sell via a bar boot sale/ebay/gumtree (a good few boxes).

c)       Things I definitely want and need, but am not intending to take to Canada with me so will pack up for storage at my parent’s house (boxes, bags and overflowing bin liners).

d)      Things I cannot live without and will be lugging with me on the plane (two suitcases).

e)      Things I may not be taking with me but will need when I stay at a friend’s house for a week, and also taking home on the train (small holdall).

A friend suggested I apply to go on Cash in the Attic, which sounded like a great idea except I don’t have an attic, everything in my modern, two bed flat is less than five years old, and I imagine they have a turnaround time of more than 11 weeks per episode.

Alas, there is nothing for it but to embrace my inner Monica, invest in some seriously strong bin liners and start the sorting process.  I am more than a bit of an organisation freak, so if it all gets too much I’ll concentrate instead on making pretty, colour-coded labels for each of my categorised boxes until the panic subsides and I can continue pulling long lost treasures from under my bed. I think I’ll start with the spare room. Deep breath now…!