After a frantic 3200 mile cross country drive from San Francisco to Orlando these past couple weeks, we have arrived. Our attention now shifts to packing up the RV, getting it cleaned out to sit for 5 months and packing up for our island winter. After a lot of thought and playing around with our packing list, we’re going to set a goal of just checking two suitcases weighing less than 100 pounds total.
While we consider ourselves conscious consumers, not necessarily ultra-minamilists – part of our challenge in wintering somewhere on a somewhat remote island is re-thinking what is necessary to be comfortable. We both went through massive purges about 4 years ago to scale down from two 1500+ square foot homes to a single 45 square foot living space. Along the way, we upgraded to a massive 80 square feet of living space.
And for a few months now, we’ve been feeling a bit bloated.
It’s so easy along the way to see something cool, or having something gifted, that you magically find you have room for. And before you know it – cabinets are overflowing, windows in the tow vehicle are blocked and you’re carrying more food than you could possibly consume even if you fed a small village. Of course we do mini-purges along the way, and are constantly evaluating what we carry. But let’s face it, we’ve gotten mighty comfortable in our huge 80 sq ft plus tow vehicle, and we have lots of stuff we’re just simply not utilizing.
It’s time to change that, and moving to St. John for more than an extended vacation but less then settling down, is a perfect opportunity. We want to go through the process of evaluating everything we own again for its merits as being essential or not.
We’re putting ourselves up to the challenge of consolidating what we bring over down to just two standard sized and weighted checked bags. Our airline charges $25 for the first checked bag per person up to 50 lbs – so this will cap our baggage fee to $50. And make handling our baggage as we shuffle from car, to plane, to shuttle, to ferry to rented 4WD vehicle (with a cat) a lot easier.
Now, that doesn’t mean we won’t have carry-on bags – which will mainly contain our laptops, iPad and cat (she counts as one of our allowed carry-ons, despite having to pay extra for her). In fact, that’ll pretty much be all they will contain. So we’re not including that weight in our packing challenge. And that doesn’t mean we won’t obtain things once we’re on island. The challenge is to minimize our stuff that we bring over.
Simple, a couple swim suits.. and you’re done!
We wish it were as easy as just tossing in a couple swimsuits to pad the laptops. And, I’m sure if we really wanted to go that light, we probably could.
However, wintering in St. John is not a vacation for us. We’ll be setting up a bit of a home there, as well as our mobile office. We will be continuing to work, afterall. In fact, we now have more software development contract work on our plate than at any other time in our nomadic history, as well as two iPhone apps we’re far behind on getting out. A big appeal to this adventure is having someplace awesome to stay put for a few months as we focus on work.
Some of the logistical considerations that make packing light a challenge:
- The place we’re renting has a mattress, an uncovered couch, a dresser, two chairs, a stove, a refrigerator, washer/dryer and full bath. Nothing else. No pillows. No linens. No pots, pans or dishes.
- Our flight will be arriving just as businesses are shutting down, eliminating the flexibility of making a shopping run for our first night in. At the very least, we’ll need to bring something to use for bedding, eating and Kiki’s essentials to get us through the first day or so. And, honestly – our priority our first day on the island is getting essential internet connectivity chugging along – not ferrying back to St. Thomas to buy towels.
- With only 4500 people on the island of St. John, there are only a couple of small markets for general shopping. All major shopping is done on St. Thomas (a cross island drive and a 20 minute ferry ride away), and that is apparently even a bit sparse. Our local contacts have warned us that if we absolutely want it, you better bring it with you – or ship it over. We want to find the a nice balance between having stuff we’re familiar with, and living a bit local.
- While we can mail stuff to the island for US domestic postage rates reasonably affordably (and already have a mailing address set up there, as we won’t have mail service at our house) – it is significantly slower. As we’re already parred down fairly well, we lack redundancy of things like towels, plates, linens, etc. There’s little stuff that we would deem essential enough to ship over that we don’t need between now and when we fly over. And we’d have to ship basically now for it to arrive when we do.
- We don’t want to irresponsibility over purchase stuff. If we can reasonably pack it over with us and bring it back, it seems like a good trade-off. And will help us feel a little more at-home to be eating off our own (lightweight) plates, or sleeping in our own sheets – for example. And there are some things we’re coordinating with our friend/sub-landlord that we’ll plan to obtain on island that she’ll be able to utilize once she takes over later next year.
So.. there you have it. The goal we’re setting for ourselves. We fly over on Sunday, November 7th. Until then will be spent getting everything in order, a work related trip, getting lots done, visiting with family & friends and hopefully some sleep. The pace ahead reminds me a bit of getting ready to hit the road full time again!