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Test Packing: Doing A Trial Run Before The Big Move

in Travel

For those of you that are new readers, my wife, daughter, and I are just 10 days away from packing our bags and moving to Australia.  We’ve been planning the trip for a little over a year have now sold or donated at least 90% of our possessions.

Not having ever done anything like this before we were a little nervous on whether or not we could carry/fit all of our remaining possessions into our backpacks.  So Tuesday night, we decided we would do a full-fledge test pack (at least of the adult possessions).  My wife had already test packed all of Milligan’s belongings into her backpack and they only took up between 60-70%.  Regardless of the extra room, we wanted to be able to fit all of our stuff into the one main backpack.  I’m sure we will find something last minute to fill up Milligan’s pack.

Here is what 99% of our possessions look like spread out:

Everything That Needs Packed

It’s a little weird seeing most of your possessions (at least for the adults) all out in front of you like this. In the background you can see both of our backpacks.  Each primary backpack has a secondary backpack that zips on and off.  My wife’s pack is on the far left.  Although you can’t see it well in this picture, the front of it has room for Milligan to slide in and grab a ride.  Behind where Milli rides, there a decent amount of room in the main compartment.  This will primarily be used for Milligan’s clothes and other belongings.

Just to the right you can see the small zip off bag for this backpack.  We will be using this as an actual diaper bag. It will have diapers, wipes, rash cream, change of clothes, etc…  This way we don’t have to lug around the main backpack in order to be able to change her diaper.  We’ve actually been using this little mini-pack for the last several months as a diaper bag so we are familiar with it’s layout.

Lastly, laying on it’s side is the main backpack. This is what we wanted to really give a test run as it is a new purchase.  Like I said before, we hope to get all of the adult possessions into the one main back.  Here was the result of the test run:

Large Backpack Full

Ta-Da! This is one full backpack.  It’s much bigger in real life than it looks in this picture… trust me. As you can tell, the top most hump is actually another smaller pack that zips off.  When you detach it, you get:

Electronics / Entertainment Bag

This is almost the size of a typical “school” backpack. This is where we are packing our important documents folder, our laptop, electonics, pens, paper, books, and entertainment items.  Although the main pack is far too big to carry-on, zipping this off should be the perfect solution.

Here’s a photo off all the bags together, one big happy family:

All The Backpacks

This is a better angle to see where Milligan will be riding.  In addition, you can see that Courtney’s main compartment is empty.  We are actually quite happy, because we know Milligan’s stuff won’t take up all that room. The mystery bag in this picture contains two cameras and a video camera with all the cords, readers, etc…  I’d like to try to get that inside of one of the two bags, but I’m not sure that’s going to work out.

Not pictured are the pack-n-play and Milligan’s car seat, both of which we will be carrying by hand.  Depending on the situation we might be able to dump the car seat once we get there, but we aren’t sure what sort of transits we might have to take and we aren’t willing to sacrifice safety until we know for sure it won’t be needed.  Plus both airlines allow you to take it for free without counting against your luggage numbers.  Nice of them.

Overall this was a very successful trial run. We had opted to get our main backpack based on it’s ability to open like a suitcase from the side.  We had to sacrifice a little overall carrying room, but I think we can get everything in it.  Side opening has major advantages over traditional top loading backpacks if you can swing it.

Regular reader’s will probably realize that my scuba gear is nowhere to be found in this scenario.  Upon reader suggestion and more research, we’ve decided to tightly pack the equipment and have family ship it over once we get a permanent address.  It’s too expensive to have to rebuy (not much of a market in central Indiana), but too bulky to be able to justify carrying.

We also updated our list based on great feedback from you guys and our test-run.  Items in bold are new, and of course I’ve struck through some items that have been cut!

Important Items [11 items - TOTAL: 11]

  • Wedding Ring
  • Wedding Ring
  • Wallet
  • Purse (small)
  • Wallet (Courtney)
  • Essential Documents Folder
  • Backpack (Courtney)
  • Backpack (Adam)
  • Car Seat (free on flights)
  • Pack ‘N Play
  • 2 Pillow Cases

Adam Clothes [32 items - TOTAL: 43]

  • Underwear
  • Underwear
  • Underwear
  • Underwear
  • Underwear
  • Underwear
  • Undershirt
  • Undershirt
  • Undershirt
  • Undershirt
  • Undershirt
  • Undershirt
  • Socks
  • Socks
  • Socks
  • Socks
  • Socks
  • T-Shirt
  • T-Shirt
  • Decent Non-Collar Shirt (green)
  • Decent Non-Collar Shirt (brown)
  • Collared Shirt (blue)
  • Collared Shirt (black)
  • Dress Shirt (blue)
  • Khaki Shorts
  • Khaki Pants
  • Jeans
  • Swim Trunks
  • Pajama Pants
  • Running Shoes
  • Multi-Purpose Sandals
  • Reversable Brown/Black Belt
  • Sunglasses
  • Chamois

Courtney Clothes [33 items - TOTAL: 76]

  • Underwear
  • Underwear
  • Underwear
  • Underwear
  • Underwear
  • Underwear
  • Bra
  • Bra
  • Sports Bra
  • Socks
  • Socks
  • Undershirt (white)
  • Undershirt (white)
  • Undershirt (white)
  • T-Shirt
  • Tank-Top
  • Tank-Top
  • Tank-Top
  • Tank-Top
  • Tank-Top
  • Swimsuit
  • Shorts (Blue)
  • Pants (Black)
  • Pants (White)
  • Dress Shirt
  • Dress Shirt
  • Dress
  • Dress
  • Casual Jacket
  • Dress Jacket
  • Running Shoes
  • Dress Sandals
  • Flip-Flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Chamois

Milligan Clothes/Gear [24 items - TOTAL: 100]

  • Onesie
  • Onesie
  • Onesie
  • Onesie
  • Onesie
  • Dress
  • Dress
  • Skirt
  • Skirt
  • Pants
  • Pants
  • Pants
  • Hat
  • Tennis Shoes
  • Sandals
  • Monkey Backpack/Leash
  • 20-pack diapers
  • Baby Wipes
  • Blankie
  • Sippie Cup
  • Baby powder
  • Rash Cream
  • Baby sunblock
  • Hair ties

Toiletries [14 items - TOTAL: 114]

  • Toothpaste (small)
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothbrush
  • Nail clippers
  • Shampoo (small)
  • Conditioner (small)
  • Deodorant
  • Hair clippers
  • Q-Tip
  • Sunblock
  • Misc (small baggie)
  • Small medicine container
  • Aloe
  • Mosquito Repellent

Electronics [20 items - TOTAL: 134]

  • Laptop
  • Charger
  • Mouse
  • Headset (Skype)
  • Jump Drive
  • Jump Drive
  • Webcam
  • Digital Video Camera
  • Charger/USB
  • Awesome Digital Camera
  • Charger
  • Small Digital Camera
  • Charger
  • All-in-1 Card Reader
  • MP3 Player
  • Headphones
  • Walky-Talkies
  • Courtney Watch
  • Plug Converter
  • Plug Converter

Entertainment [11 items - TOTAL: 145]

  • Travel Book
  • Courtney 1 Book
  • Adam 1 Book
  • Deck Of Cards
  • Flux
  • Phase 10
  • Harmonica
  • Pen
  • Pen
  • Yellow Pad
  • Journal

So as of now our list is 145 items deep.  We’ve added 3 items total, even though we aren’t counting any of the scuba gear, right now.  Still not too shabby.  Thanks for all the wonderful feedback last time on the list.  We’ve added, removed, and reorganized several things due to your feedback!

Have you ever “test-packed” for a trip before?  Do you have any last minute packing tips or specific suggestions based on our list?  Please help us out by leaving your comment or support below!

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Do You Dave Ramsey? May 28, 2009 at 10:01 AM

I love the idea of a test pack! Of course I’m a planning and process and organizational nerb so practicing a packing situation is prefect fun for me.

My wife and I have season tickets for our favorite college football team and we often have tailgates with several friends before the game.

I recall a couple years ago spending 2-3 hours organizing and staging all the stuff we had to fit into the car… “there’s no way” was my wife’s reaction which was just the competitive juice I needed. And so it began, packing, unpacking, repacking, organizing, sorting, squeezing and wedging and I was able to fit it all in. I joked that if we were in an accident we’d explode ‘tailgate’ over an entire city block but it was all in the car. When it came time to repack, I demanded that everyone stand back (dispite their efforts to help) because only I knew how the puzzle would piece back together.

Ha, that wanders off topic but the pactice packing got me to thinking.

Good luck on your trip. I admire your plan and look forward to reading along with your adventures.

Dave

Do You Dave Ramsey?’s last blog post..7 Things You Never Knew You Didn’t Know About Me

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Baker May 29, 2009 at 3:23 PM

Dave, tell me about it! I at least a couple times during the process said “just let me do that” to my wife. Usually I get punched, but she let me slide this time!

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Kosmo @ The Casual Observer May 28, 2009 at 10:03 AM

A bit ironic that the book shown in the picture says “Live Large” in red letters, when you are living small :)

Very smart to test pack in your situation. It would be bad to realize that you had too much stuff the night before your flight.

Kosmo @ The Casual Observer’s last blog post..Read this: She In China

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Baker May 29, 2009 at 3:23 PM

Wisebread’s new book is my choice for the 1 book I could take with me. Tells you a lot about that book!

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liz a. May 28, 2009 at 10:38 AM

wow! congratulations! i have always, always, wanted to move to australia, but too many strings holding me back, 30 years ago..hahahah! and i do test-pack….how else will you know if it will all work! it looks like you have whittled your “stuff” down to about the most basic necessities, just enjoy your life there and we look forward to hearing more from you.
just a p.s. i am going to europe this summer with my 81 year old mother, which is fine, but she doesn’t remotely test-pack and is totally disorganized and won’t that be fun, ack! she is taking more stuff for several weeks in france and italy than you are taking to start life in australia! wish me well!

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Baker May 29, 2009 at 3:24 PM

Holy cow! If I make it to 81, I hope my children are as willing to drag me along (luggage included)!

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Paul @ FiscalGeek May 28, 2009 at 12:46 PM

I’m seriously impressed. Congratulations on your Australia adventure, our good friends just moved back to Melbourne at Christmas and once we are debt free hopefully in February we’ll be going to visit, not sure as organized as this though. We can also force the boys to carry their own stuff now :-).

Paul @ FiscalGeek’s last blog post..A Low-Tech Pocket Budget System

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Baker May 29, 2009 at 3:25 PM

If you really do ge to visit Australia be sure to let me know. Who knows where we will be at that point… we could be right next door!

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Mama Bird May 28, 2009 at 2:30 PM

Great idea to do a test run. I remember when we moved back to the states from Australia, I had to run out and buy a new suitcase because everything wouldn’t fit! Differently situation of course, but you always think you can fit more in than you actually can! And great to have extra room too, just in case.

I will have a to remember all of this when we pack for our next trip. I always pack too much! And now I’ve got a 4th person to pack for!

Mama Bird’s last blog post..Ask the Readers: What Are Your Favorite Blogs?

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Baker May 29, 2009 at 3:25 PM

Yeah, luckily we just have 2 and a half people to pack for. The more kids you add into this equation the less practical it all is! Good luck, I’ll be watching you for tips in the future!

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Charlene May 28, 2009 at 3:46 PM

Great going. It reminds me of a two week trip my Mom and I made to England in 1987 with just one carry on bag plus purse each. We had picked up something like the TRI-ZIP at this link: http://www.toughtraveler.com/lug/carryon.asp. It was a combination backpack, suitcase (handles or a shoulder bag).

We traveled around England by train and walking and stayed in Bed and Breakfasts.

In fact I still have one and when I got married I bought another for my husband for our honeymoon camping in the Canadian Rockies. Our bags were closer to $100 than this TRI-ZIP. Since we have started to do more travel by car than plane, we haven’t used the bags as much. And one of them has a broken zipper (only one of the dual zipper system works).

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Baker May 29, 2009 at 3:27 PM

We are super interested in exploring Europe like this as well. Heck, who knows it might even be the next adventure after Australia! If we go this route, you will surely be getting some e-mails for me asking for advice!

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Sean May 29, 2009 at 3:55 AM

I just signed up to your emails – - because of your Dave vs Suze posting. THEN I got this email today about your move to Australia! I read A LOT of very interesting stuff on the internet and usually just move on. Sometimes it’s interesting enough to get me to subscribe to a podcast or newsletter for a while. Which I did with Man vs. Debt. BUT now that I have read that you’re taking off on this grand, epic adventure, I am just fascinated! I don’t usually, well actually NEVER get excited about what perfect strangers do, but I must say, I’m excited or you! What you are doing is an unrealized dream of my own as well.

I hope that you’ll keep up all very well informed of your Australia exploits. And if you can find some interesting Australian items that we can afford AND can put some extra money in your pockets I for one would be interested in ordering from you. If you are willing I might suggest doing our updates like MANY others I subscribe to. EVERYONE that subscribes gets a “basic” update, but PAYING followers get more details, access to special offers, etc. Something like this might make your life “richer” in more ways than one… Just a thought. AGAIN, GOOD LUCK ON YOUR ADVENTURE!

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Baker May 29, 2009 at 3:29 PM

Sean, thanks for all your kind words.

This site and my opinions will always be free! I’m actually working on a free e-book right now, as well. Down the road I would love to produce premium content for those who could derive great value from it. Keep following for more info!

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Andy May 29, 2009 at 5:38 AM

Haha this is funny I am doing the exact same thing…selling all of my belongings and moving my life into a backpack

Funny thing is I am doing the exact opposite later this year…I am moving from Australia to USA for a few months and then planning on exploring the world just myself and my backpack.

Good luck its freezing in Melbourne atm

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Baker May 29, 2009 at 3:31 PM

Well, maybe you can give me some Aussie tips and I can shoot you a couple ones from here! Let me know!

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Tab May 29, 2009 at 7:31 AM

Wow, that’s pretty awesome. I don’t really want to move, but I definitely want to visit Australia. I can’t imagine fitting everything I own into a backpack though!

Tab’s last blog post..15 ways to save every month

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Baker May 29, 2009 at 3:32 PM

If you come and visit be sure to let us know! And it wasn’t to long ago that I couldn’t imagine it either. How quickly our world views can change!

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Sean May 29, 2009 at 5:23 PM

Thanks for the kind reply! I just thought of a movie you might watch, just to play it safe. It’s called “INTO THE WILD.” Not saying that you are like, or unlike, Chris McCandless, AKA “Alexander Supertramp” in any way, but it’s a great movie IMHO and a cautionary true story. It was one of the few movies I see that put me into that “what if” day-dream state repeatedly for weeks after I saw it….

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Nandini August 17, 2011 at 10:55 AM

I’m impressed with the all the things you stuffed in to the backpack. I will be traveling to Europe (NY to Europe) with my 15 month old son and need to be able to carry all the necessary things for him for the flight at least. I was wondering what brand backpack is it and where can I find one?

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Sarra T. December 3, 2011 at 10:24 PM

I am taking a trip here in 5 days and I just did a test “pack” of 90% of the stuff I need to bring. I have a standard size backpack and a fairly decent sized duffel bag for a 9 day vacation.
I am traveling by bus, so I am not restricted to only a quart size bag of liquid toiletries. I have to bring all of my own items (shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, ect.) I invested in small travel size bottles for my liquids, and a nice zipper toiletry bag that fits everything I need! Now I’m just counting down the days to the night before which will be the actual pack and go.
I highly recommend travel size bottles, a small toiletry bag, and definitely making a packing list of everything your taking. Another helpful tip is to lay everything your taking with you out on the bed prior to packing.

I will also be bringing my laptop, camera, phone, chargers, batteries, small purse with documents/money, and a small blanket.

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