Units and Measures

Jean found our UAB* (Unaccompanied Air Baggage) list yesterday, scratched onto an 8 1/2″ x 11″ lined sheet of paper. After 16 months in Nepal, some of it holds up. This being our first post, you’ll forgive some naiveté.
*UAB is air freight that follows the employee (Jean, the Foreign Service Officer) and is alloted 150 pounds to her, 100 pounds to me, the spouse, 50 pounds to each additional person, giving us a total of some 400 pounds allowance. This could be wildly inaccurate, so see the FAM for details.

  • Clothes (that fit now)
  • regular everyday dishes, flatware, glasses
  • spices/oils/vinegars, etc
  • sheets/towels/pillows,etc
  • pots,pans,dish drain
  • toiletries
  • candles
  • cookbooks
  • ice cube trays
  • cleaning caddy and sponges
  • transformer
  • toolkit
  • toys

Clothes that fit now. Yep, your UAB might not arrive for a few weeks, but you certainly don’t want your clothes in your HHE (household effects/household goods) which might not arrive for months. Even then, if you’re close to the turn of a season, you might want to pack some out-of-season clothes.

Toys. Your kids need to play with stuff.

What were we thinking?
Dishes, sheets, towels, pots, pans, dish drain, ice cube trays, etc. These are all provided as part of the welcome kit (which one gets here as part of your “welcome to post” on loan until your HHE arrives, may differ slightly from post to post)
*The transformer should have been avoided entirely, and actually was (Kathy and Bob gave us two, that we are pretty sure are in storage!) and it’s a good thing, since we get a few with the house.
Oils and vinegars are available here at post, we should have just skipped that.
Candles. Why on earth did we pack candles?
Cleaning Caddy and sponges. It was our hope that we would school our Didi (maid) in the ways of using washable sponges, and Shaklee cleaning products. To this day, she refuses to use a sponge mop, instead swabbing the decks with the string mop, doesn’t use our sponges, and can’t tell the difference between one spray cleaner for general cleaning and one for glass. Not that she can see dust anyway. Resistance is futile, oh expat.

Skip UAB, these should have been in our luggage
Spices. Sure there are decent spices here, but being a Penzey’s nut, you just can’t replicate the Fajita seasoning with a $3 packet of McCormick spices from the commissary. We live for our spices.
Toiletries. We should have taken a measure more in our luggage than just travel-sized toothpaste and shampoo. We had to buy all new stuff and then our UAB showed up after we’d run out and spent money on clove-flavored toothpaste.
Cookbooks. Should have packed our two most favorite. Food is a comfort thing.
Toolkit. Get the cordless drill in there. And a hammer. And a screwdriver. And duct tape.

To do it again

  • more clothes for adults. Kids don’t have to go to dinner parties a week after arriving
  • Laptop (sell the desktop before leaving this post)
  • Projector (sell the large LCD TV before leaving this post)
  • a novel or two (or just go eBook)


  • Movie screen (to go with above projector, a wall will do for a few weeks)
  • multi-season kids’ clothes
  • multi-season adult clothes

Somehow all that needs to be 400 pounds or less. And then there’s our HHE, for which we get a 7200* pound allowance. (*this year, State added a 2,000 pound allowance for packing materials, as paper, bubble wrap, wooden crating and metal banding can add up quick!) That’s right, nearly four (4) tons! An insane amount you say? Even after deciding the majority of our furniture, the heaviest of our things by far, were to go to storage, we managed to be overweight and had to make game-time decisions on which line item on the chicken scratched bill of lading marked “misc” would go to storage.
How consumerist, how hoarding, how on earth can anyone actually possess that much stuff? Here’s a start:
(rough estimates)

  • Clothes, linens: ~1000 pounds.
  • Books:~1500 pounds
  • pots, pans, flatware: ~700 pounds
  • computer, DVDs, TV, electronics: ~500 pounds
  • sewing machine, fabric, accessories: ~500 pounds
  • tools, car ramps, bikes, sports equipment, camping equipment: ~1000 pounds
  • filing cabinet papers: ~200 pounds
  • toys (including my star wars stuff, yes): ~500 pounds
  • dishes, glassware: ~800 pounds
  • beer brewing: ~300 pounds
  • misc: ~200 pounds

That’s 7200 pounds. Some items might be a couple hundred pounds off, but these are rough estimates. Kinda crazy.

And so with each thing that comes into the house (tibetan style furniture: 100 pounds) we have to think where the tradeoff will be (donated books to Embassy: 100 pounds) and if we can get down low enough to get our trampoline out of storage for Zimbabwe 🙂

One Reply to “Units and Measures”

  1. I love this post! 1st post has so many lessons learned attached – adult clothes, I mad the same mistake 🙂

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