Thursday, August 9, 2012

The woes of packing as an international teacher

The Mister and I are returning to Kuwait very soon (!!), which means our thoughts are filled with packing and airline baggage policies.  Add to that the fact that we are dealing with drama surrounding the Mister's passport (lesson learned: Don't trust the USPS with important documents that need to be returned urgently), and you can get an idea of how low my anxiety level has been for the past few weeks.

Not helping: this is what our bedroom has looked like for most of the summer. Actually, this is pretty clean compared to what it looked like a few days ago. ::sigh::

We moved most of our stuff up to Kuwait when we finished our tenure in Saudi Arabia. That means that a lot of the necessities are already there and ready to be unpacked. I'm really excited about that because it means we are able to bring a lot of fun things with us on our return flight. Souvenirs, artwork bought in Italy, fun decorations for the house, and lots of new teacher clothes are going to make the trip with us back to the land of sand and sun. So why all the headache?


I try to think like a business person. I understand that baggage handler unions and rising fuel costs prevent the airlines from giving passengers free rein when it comes to cramming their suitcases to the max. I don't mind paying excess baggage fees; they're a LOT less expensive than shipping costs. What bothers me is the fact that I'm not really sure how much I'm going to have to pay until I actually show up at the airport.

Here's the story:

Back in June I called the airline to find out just how much we were going to have to pay. The representative was very annoyed that I had given up on scouring their extremely confusing website in favor of talking to a human being and discussing my complex situation.

Based on the information the airline representative gave me in June, I calculated that our baggage fees were going to be about $500 for all our stuff. Not too terribly bad, especially when you consider that our new school will reimburse us for up to $700 in baggage fees per person. I was pretty stoked. We'd budgeted $1000 for the baggage fees, so as long as I gave myself $200 wiggle room, I'd still be under our budget, right!? More shopping for me!!

Fast forward to yesterday when I was double checking and noticed that the baggage information pages on the website had changed. So I called again. Spoke with another annoyed representative who told me that the baggage fees would now add up to TWELVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!! Whaaaat!?

We had to regroup. We culled back through all our baggage, eliminated some of the creature comforts that we didn't really need, and weighed everything. The way I figure it, we have two options:

Pack everything chock-a-block full and deal with the overweight, over size baggage fees (that would be about $1200) and only take 1 big suitcase, 1 trunk, 1 carry on, and 1 duffle bag.

Here's the trunk. We bought it at the beginning of the summer thinking that we had a 100 lb max limit that would cost just $400 to take on the plane with us. Turns out that if we pack it to 100 lb, this once piece would cost us $700.

Option number two is to pack things to within the 70 lb limit, still pay overweight fees on some bags, and take 2 big suitcases (that are only about 75% full), the trunk (only about 50% full, but the storage will be great in Kuwait), 1 medium suitcase, 1 carry on, and 1 duffle. If all my information is correct, all that luggage will cost us $800.

This is what the medium suitcase looks like right now...and we only have 1 small load of laundry that hasn't been packed yet.

This whole situation is so ridiculous! I understand that the baggage handlers don't want to get sneak attacked by a random 100 lb suitcase, and I agree that they should be compensated for schlepping my heavy stuff...but seven hundred dollars for 1 not-that-big piece of baggage!? Seriously!?

Alright. Rant complete. Back to stressing about visas instead.

Vicariously yours,


  1. Hi Amber, I hope you're well. I'm writing on behalf of Marie Claire magazine in the UK and I'm keen to speak to you about a story we're running. Please could you email me on
    Thank you, Anna Saunders

  2. This just made my head hurt! Better you then me because I would just be in the fetal position crying at the concept of logistical packing.