How to pack for a year

“How do you pack for a year?” That’s a question I’ve been getting a lot lately–and one I’ve been asking myself. When we travel, we like to pack as light as possible. One Rick Steves backpack per person and maybe something smaller, like a computer bag. We almost always carry everything on the plane. Alas, we’ve resigned ourselves to checking bags for this trip. But the truth is, we don’t need a heck of a lot more than what we do for a big vacation. Certainly more clothes, including more nice things to wear than we would normally take with us. More books. Some of our favorite games. Computers, kindles, ipods, etc. I’m even bringing a three-inch stack of hardcopies of all the notes I’ve gotten from my writing group from the past year. (I thought about scanning them all, but the task was too daunting!)

We’ve tackled most of the packing now and are pretty much down to the final bits that will get added just before we go (like toiletries and such). Merideth is (of course) the most expert packer in the family. She superintended our efforts, even though she won’t be heading over to France until mid-August. (That’s right–it’s just me and the girls for the first three weeks!)

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Getting everything corralled.

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Happily stacking and rolling up clothes.


Overcome by packing.


Getting it all to fit.


Staged and ready for the final items to be added. Three bags to check. Three carry-ons. Three “personal items.”

We’re just about ready to go!


A week of farewells…

Our days left in Seattle are slipping away. Five days till departure! Today is our last Saturday and it’s appropriately overcast and drizzly. Amid lots of final packing and chores it’s been good to see some friends before we go. Yesterday I met with my faithful writing group for the last time in person for the next year. We’re going to give Skype a shot, which I’m looking forward to. Meeting with them over the past two years has definitely made my writing better.


Last lunch with the writing group.

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One last hike in the Cascades with Paul.

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A visit from friends from Helena. Mt. Rainier didn’t feel like making an appearance, though.

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Evelyn got a surprise going-away party from some friends.

Ten days


We’re really counting down now–Evelyn, Carolyn, and I leave for Paris on July 30th while Merideth will be coming over in mid-August. So we’re working through packing lists, culling through clothes, and making piles for Goodwill. Figuring out which books and games to take. Getting Skype configured. Running errands. I got new glasses for the first time in years, as well as contacts for the first time since college. Tomorrow Evelyn gets her braces off. We got our records from the dentist so we’ll have them when we find one in Paris.

Over the weekend we saw Merideth’s parents for the last time here in the states. And the girls and I are lining up farewells with other friends over these next days. We’re all doing chores that we don’t always think of, but now that we’re going to be gone for a year, we need to get to. Really exciting things like getting the hedge next to the alley trimmed, the furnace cleaned, and the cat’s vaccines up-to-date. Cleaning out the freezer, the pantry, the store room, etc., etc. I don’t think we’ve ever been so organized!


It’s for real, now… we have our visas in hand! We can get on that plane and go to France for a year and a day. We still have plenty of items on our checklist before we go (like getting our phones figured out), but this was the big hurdle.