Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Air Freight Nightmares

Before I delve too deep into our lessons learned about packing air freight, let me first call your attention to a new page to EF'M. It has a permanent link in the left column with the disclaimers, but it essentially is a list of hated, and thus replaced, State acronyms and phrases. Instead of typing out "air freight (EF'M no longer recognizes the use of UAB)" every time, I'll just link back to this page.

Moving on, we failed miserably in packing our air freight. Which is doubly embarrassing considering we drove to post meaning we should have had amble space for bringing necessities to Hermosillo.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that we made too many assumptions about the welcome kit. For example, we left behind our toaster and coffee maker thinking those would have to be in a welcome kit. I'm also wishing we would have brought a cookie sheet or two as well become some frozen food just doesn't microwave well.

Alas, we are toaster, coffee and baked goods-less for the next month or so. In fact, our kitchen is quite bare and makes cooking a dreadful, unfulfilling task. I didn't realize how much I love my gadgets and seasonings until I've been asked to cook without them.

"But you guys had 450 pounds and a car load. What did you pack?" you might ask. And a good question. Also by not knowing our welcome kit, we've doubled (and tripled) up on some items. For example, our government-issued bed came with bedding. So did we. Two sets of bedding, actually. But wanting to use government bedding is understandable, I suppose.

The welcome kit also came with towels. So did we. Almost our entire linen closet made it here, actually. This was part of the problem with our pack-out plan. Natalie was in charge of the air freight while I kept an eye on everything else. And we didn't really do a good job of prioritizing our possessions.

That, and Natalie really likes clothes. And she brought everything except her dead-of-winter wardrobe. The good news is that she has her Emmitt Smith Cowboys jersey I haven't seen her wear ever. And at least two bath robes, including the heavy one, which is so necessary in the desert in the summer. She also really likes hangers. I'd estimate that we packed about 30 pounds of hangers. (The welcome kit also had about 20 of those.)

I shouldn't pick on her too much, though, because I probably went a little over board on the clothes as well. I brought all of my dress pants because it is important to be dressed while sweeping sand and doing dishes.

We also had to take care of Tiffy by packing a 50 pound bag of dog food in our air freight even though we were driving with about 30 pounds or so in the car. Better safe than sorry, I suppose, but I highly doubt we'll be opening another 50-pound bag of dog food before our ground/surface/sea freight arrives.

There are a few success stories, however. We had our desktop computer and printer sent in the air freight. For anyone else shipping a printer, it is a good idea to remove the ink cartridges before it is sealed because I guess those tend to leak when jostled about.

I also smuggled one frying pan, spatula and pizza cutter without Natalie knowing. When I told her, she was a bit annoyed, until we started using it. The welcome kit does come with some pots and pans, but I would hate to rely on these for much more than boiling water. They are on the thin side, and I couldn't imagine trying to cook anything like a chicken breast on it because the outside would get crispy well before the inside would be done.

The major lessons learned are this. You don't need nearly as much clothes as you think you do. You'll have a washer and dryer after all. And get to know your welcome kit. I wouldn't ask the post what is in it, because it is a pretty long list. Rather, ask specific questions, such as, "Is there a coffee maker in the welcome kit?" That should not take the people working at the post quite as long to determine.

Good luck to those of you who have pack-out day on the horizon, and please learn from our mistakes.


  1. Welcome kits vary wildly, but it never fails: what you need, you didn't bring. And it's so hard to cook with all of those random pots and spatulas somehow. I always find myself with just salt, pepper and basil - and lacking any desire to do something creative with only those spices.

    Good luck. Maybe switch to tea for awhile?

  2. We were told our house was outfitted with a microwave and we didn't need to bring one. Well, the microwave was with the welcome kit and the minute our HHE was here we had to give it back. SUCK! So we had to go to TX and buy yet another one.

    I feel your pain! Hopefully you'll get your "air stuff" this week and your HHE in the next month.

  3. Oh, I feel for you. We always bring the coffee maker with us as the welcome kit one usually seems to be the type that would turn one off coffee entirely. Maybe if not too pricey, just order a second one...trust me, comes in handy at dinners.

    The pots and pans...sigh. At our last overseas post, I actually had the handle fall off the welcome kit pan while I was sauteing (likely chicken) one night. To say the it was the cheapest pot and pan set available would be kind.

    Good luck and hope there is some sort of coffee machine in your not-so-distant future!

  4. thanks! this is helpful to me! see you in a month

  5. In Milan, our welcome kits are considered "disposable." You're issued one per tour, so you don't have to turn it in after your UAB or HHE arrives -- but you're expected to keep the things you use sitting around until you pack out two or three years later.
    That said, everything in it is new, and some things in it will be nice to have around as spares when we have company.

  6. As a tip: in Mexico you can buy instant coffee (top brand is NesCafe), which is what most Mexicans drink regularly. I know, I know, not the same at all. But doctor it up with a little milk and sugar, and it tastes pretty good! ...at least until you get the coffee maker situation resolved. Coffee is an absolute necessity in my house!

  7. I failed miserably on our first UAB packout... in fact we still talk about it 5 moves later! I had to do it alone because my hubby was still in training, and I was stuck tying up the loose ends. All it takes is doing this once to know what to do next time!

    Best of luck as you wait ever so patiently for your HHE to arrive!

  8. It's a learning experience! We had the same trouble with the lack-of-microwave issue (Bill actually gave away a really nice one before we left D.C., thinking it would be included in the housing).

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  14. That's okay. You can always still try. :) And you couldn't make a better choice than taking it all on air. It still is the way.

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