The First FS Challenge: Packing

With 19 days until I move to Arlington for my A-100, I’m preparing for my first challenge as a Foreign Service Officer (obviously not counting the application process): packing for my move.

So here’s the deal. Most of the time when I move I’ll get four categories of luggage 1) the stuff I bring on the plane with me, 2) the stuff that gets put on a plane to follow me ASAP (250 lbs, arriving ~2 weeks after I do), 3) the stuff that gets put on a boat to follow me (up to 7,200 lbs (WOW), arriving 1-3 months after I do), and 4) the stuff that stays in storage (whatever brings my personal possessions up to 18,000 lbs…the official cap on my consumerism). I’ll also have a good idea of how long I’m going to be wherever I’m going.

This first move is the one big exception from this rule. During A-100, while you technically get all of these same categories, the reality is that things that would normally show up eventually in category 3, get lumped right in with category 4. For as long as I’m in D.C., they will not be available to me. Now, I’ve selected to live in a fully furnished apartment/hotel hybrid thing, so I don’t need say, furniture, linens, vacuum cleaners, dishes, etc. But I still need clothing, Tolui’s things (Tolui being the puppy), and assorted personal affects. And I get 250 lbs of them. Well, actually, I’m lucky. Peter is driving me down to DC for the move, so I get a car + 250 lbs. He is basically my savior.

I’m sure that 250 lbs is actually a very generous amount. But I have little conception of what that amount of luggage looks like. And here’s the kicker: I don’t know how long I’ll be in Arlington. It could be 3 months, it could be a year. Which means I could be fine with a few suits, sundresses, and sandals, or I could need my heavy winter coat and lots of long underwear. Yikes.

Other questions I’ve had: should I bring stationary, stamps, etc? a shoe rack? what number of decorative items? my food processor? my happy light?

I’m someone who overthinks packing every. single. time. Literally, a weekend away has me making packing lists two weeks in advance. Now, I normally end up doing a good job of not overpacking, because I’ve immensely over thought the whole situation. This time, however, I wish I had a little less time to think about every dimension of this move.

Any tips? If you were living in a hotel for a year, what would you be sure to pack?


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