Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli

For the past two weeks I’ve been wishing I had Merlin’s magical packing up spell. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you need to watch this video:
The question that has been boggling my mind is how does one pack for a year abroad? It’s not like packing for a two week holiday and it’s not like packing for a permanent move. It’s somewhere in between. You need winter and summer clothes, exercise and formal wear, pajamas and dress slacks. You need walking shoes, dress shoes, rain boots, work shoes, comfortable shoes, and uncomfortable shoes. You need important documents, a camera, a computer, power cords, books, mementos, an mp3 player, addresses, jewelry, and power converters (and let’s face it, who has the time to pop down to Toshi Station these days?).
The hardest decision is determining what goes and what stays. What do I absolutely need and what can I pick up when I get there? Throughout the packing process I have had to remind myself that I’ll be able to buy things when I get there. I’m not going into the wilds of the Amazon. England has clothing stores, home goods stores, and office supply stores just like here. It’s been a difficult culling process but there is only so much room and some things will have to stay.
You also have to think about blending in with the local scene. As Durham is a medieval town, I figured maybe a brilliant white chemise and floral green brocade bodice were the way to go. The leather mug completes the look.

It’s what all the fashionable peasants were wearing in 1533.
A quick Google image later and this was in the obviously-not-coming pile. All kidding aside, Durham is in fact quite modern and blending in is not going to be a problem.
It was finally time to buckle down and actually begin to pack. As any organized museum professional would, I set about this task logically, efficiently, and with only a touch of obsession. Step 1: Determine the number of bags I can check and any weight restrictions. Step 2: Check the local weather throughout the year to determine what type of clothing would be most suitable. Step 3: Contact the Doctor in order to discover the equations which will allow a larger relative dimension to fit within the smaller dimensions of my bags.
Step 1 was child’s play. All airlines put this information on their websites along with any items that are restricted. The good news is that on international flights, you are sometimes allowed an extra checked bag. I would be allowed two checked bags, a carry on, and a laptop bag for free. The weight of the checked bags had to be kept to under 51 pounds lest I incur further charges or the wrath everyone in line behind me at the airport while I try to repack things. Granted there is no way I can fit everything into two bags and a carry on so I will have to pay a fee for an extra bag, but I’m quickly learning that such is the way of things. 
Step 2 was also fairly easy. A Google search produced a monthly temperature chart with averages and record highs and lows. Durham is pretty far north and tends not to get above the high sixties. That quickly eliminated the need for summer attire. It also doesn’t tend to go below the thirties so the Eskimo shoes were out as well. Of course it’s England so rain gear would be essential.
Step3 was a little bit more difficult. I tried several methods of getting in touch with the Doctor but none really panned out. So I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and bought some Ziploc Space Bags instead. True it’s not Time Lord technology but you have to go with what is available. I made sure to go with the travel bags which don’t require a vacuum cleaner just in case customs needs to open the luggage and look through things.  I have to say, they worked remarkably well. Check this before and after out:
The thing to keep in mind is that the amount of stuff in the suitcase is not the issue. It’s the weight. That being said I would like to tell you precisely what I was able to fit in my large suitcase using these crazy things.
Introducing, in the blue corner, weighing in at 48 pounds, a suitcase containing:
9 t-shirts
13 blouses
3 pajama bottoms
5 dress trousers
2 sweater dresses
13 sweaters
2 thermal tops
4 leggings
4 sweater skirts
2 formal cocktail dresses
1 wall calendar set
1 set of dividers
1 set of folders
1 set of coasters
1 power converter
3 month supply of contact lenses
2 books
Miscellaneous personal items (make up, soap, etc.)
Of course it’s always important to have a helping hand, or paw, when doing any sort of packing. Chase was invaluable.

Well, one bag down, four more to go. I guess I better get to it!

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