Sunday, August 19, 2012


So how do you go about moving from DC to an island at the back end of the Aleutians? If you're moving yourself, the answer involves a trip to Target, lots of Rubbermaid totes, a drill, zip ties, and sharpies.

Fun fact: the USPS serves all communities in America, one way or another. The island has its very own post office, with delivery twice a week (or whenever the plane comes!) This means that you can ship flat rate packages just the same as you would to anywhere else, and parcel post for not much more. Amazon Prime also mostly works, though certain items that can't be sent via air are obviously excluded.

Unfortunately, with such a long way to go, the 4,542-mile journey can be a bit rough on packages, which is where totes, also known as tubs or storage bins, come in. Essentially, you pack each tote with up to 70 pounds of stuff, drill some holes, and fasten it with zip ties, like so:

In case the label falls off or the lid becomes separated, it's important to write your name and zip code on the side and lid of the tote in Sharpie. Given that our zip code has approximately 100 residents, I'm fairly certain that these totes will eventually find their way to us.

The total cost to ship the three 18-gallon totes, with weights varying from 40-60 pounds, was $126. Not too shabby, especially if you consider the baggage fees charged by airlines.

Goodbye, tote! See you in a little while!

The very friendly postal worker predicted three weeks; I'll believe it when I see it. I do have the confirmation receipts and will start tracking in a few weeks. It's going to be extra fun when they arrive, because I was in such a packing frenzy that I don't really remember what went in each one.

The other part of the equation involves luggage and the complicated calculus of food vs. clothing. General wisdom is to ship most of your clothing and pack your suitcases with food, which makes a lot of sense when a half gallon of milk costs $7. More on that later!

And now I have the UPS logistics song stuck in my head...

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