So we moved to Germany. This all started when our friends, Brendan and Stina decided to settle down in Magdeburg after traveling around as buskers. Actually, it started a few years ago when Lena and I made a pact that we would someday live abroad for a year. We had tentatively toyed with the idea of Singapore or Taiwan but hadn’t writ anything in stone. Then along came news from our friends that rent is cheap in Magdeburg, life is good and the EU is a travel mecca (as if we didn’t already know the last part). So we thought about it for a minute (in itemized format):
- I work as a telecommuting web developer (so I can work from anywhere in the world that has a decent net connection)
- My wife isn’t tied down with a job (aside from taking care of our daughter, which, although is certainly a form of being tied down, it’s a mobile form)
- Our daughter, Ilya, is only 1.5 years old (or was when we made the decision) so she isn’t in pre-school yet.
So, all the stars being in alignment, we purchased plane tickets.
Yesterday, we flew 10 hours (non-stop) from Seattle to Frankfurt. We found much amusement during our fretting about selling off our belongings and renting out our house when our friends and family would constantly remind us that “once you get on the plane you can just relax.” Of course, none of these people are experienced in the art of flying 10 hours with a toddler. It was, as we expected, more exhausting than the whole lead up to moving.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We spent the last several months selling off nearly everything we own. Every week, I would look around the house and gasp, “I can’t believe we still have so much stuff!”
Even on the last day, as we packed up a stack of things to store at Lena’s mother’s house, I couldn’t believe how much we still had. I remember moving up to Seattle 10 years ago with two boxes and a mattress. Now, with a family and two houses, I’ve acquired enough stuff to crush the life out of me 10 times over.
But we paired down, sold things, drove to Good Will about 25 times, stored a few things at parent’s houses and eventually got it down to:
- 1 Pack ‘n’ Play (Ilya’s portable bed)
- 1 Stroller
- 2 large suitcases (very large)
- 3 backpacks (one for each of us)
Fifteen minutes before driving to Seatac airport, I looked at my wife, she looked at me and we both agreed. We have too much stuff. Maybe we can get rid of one of these large suitcases!
We were ruthless. Nothing was spared critical scrutiny. And we did it. One large suitcase, jammed pack.
Now, this seemed great. We had less baggage, less stuff and more mobility. At least, it seemed that way… until we got to the airport.
As we loaded up the large suitcase on the Lufthansa check-in weigh station, the attendant looked at us with concerned eyes, “Is there any way you can get this down below 32KG?”
It was 38 Kilos.
“Uh, maybe…” (that’s like 13 lbs. to shave off).
He gestured to the other end of the airport. “You could buy another piece of luggage. It’s a $160 charge if you can’t get it down to size.”
So, I ran. I ran to the whole other end of Seatac to a Hudson News, which sold these little travel bags. I bought one and ran back.
We ripped apart the suitcase, finding all the heaviest items that would fit. Score. I think we got it. Now the large suitcase was 28KG!
Back at the check-in desk, a new attendant gave us another sad look. “Any way you can you get it down below 23KG?”
“What? I thought it was 32…”
“Between 23-32KG there is a $160 charge for oversize. You have to get it below 23KG per bag.”
I ran back and bought another little bag. Again we ripped apart the suitcase, moving all the heaviest items over to the small bag. And, once again, we got it down.
22.8! w00t. Now our awesome ideal of traveling with 1 large suitcase instead of 2 has become traveling with 1 large suitcase + 2 small travel bags. Sigh.
Now to board the plane…
Tune in later…
…for the next installment: “Ich habe mein Gepäck vergessen! (I forgot my luggage!)”.
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