Why did I pack THAT?

In Packing, Personal stories by Carole Hallett Mobbs4 Comments

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Packing for an overseas relocation

When researching this article, I received some excellent and amusing comments on Twitter and Facebook about items that really should not have been packed for an overseas relocation.

I decided to use the fun we had to illustrate a potential problem when using a packing service.

These professional packers are an invaluable team to have when you move house, whether it’s overseas or not. They save time and they save energy, and the insurance costs are lower. But… if items are not nailed down or out of the house, they will get packed.

I devised a method that worked for my last move: I printed out a load of ‘no entry’ signs and stuck them very securely on everything that wasn’t to be taken. Feel free to use mine! Click here to download.

I mentioned in my article on my first move abroad about the speed at which these professional packers move, and how mishaps can happen if you aren’t on the ball.

They literally pack everything. And I mean everything. Here are some examples:

Was there anything you packed that you shouldn’t have when you relocated overseas?

Megan: We had movers that carefully packed and wrapped the kitchen trash can with the trash still inside. That was…unpleasant!


Clara: The removable handle for the grill pan. Useful, that.


Judy: We left the vacuum cleaner in storage because it was the wrong voltage, but took the hose by mistake. Thinking we would need it when we returned, we lugged it to Dubai, then Cairo and back to Dubai. Each time struggling to find a home for it in our rented apartments. When we finally got home we found the vacuum cleaner was broken … so we threw it out. *sigh*.


Claire: A friend of mine told me that on her packing day some old friends popped round to say goodbye and the packers accidentally packed their umbrellas. She ended up having to post them back.


Rachel: My packers packed all the instruction manuals for the (rented) house I was living in, plus some fiddly bits that belonged with the hob…. I don’t think I ever posted them back, oops!


Claire: We’ve accidentally packed a few small things like remote controls for the TV my son was keeping in the UK. But I am still missing a laundry basket full of clothes and a peg bag that vanished after I brought it in from the line on packing day. We think the packers may have put it in with a chair that they thought we wanted to pack. We just prevented them from putting it on the truck – it was wrapped in cardboard and we put it in storage without unwrapping it. I am still hoping to be reunited with my favourite pistachio coloured denim jacket at some point…


And one I’ve heard via a friend: In Japan you keep an earthquake emergency kit in a cupboard. This kit includes a couple of enormous containers of water… yes, the packers packed them. Can you imagine how much expense several gallons of water added to the international removals’ bill?

It’s not just the packers who cause us to lug strange items around the world…

Farrah: My husband is so funny. I warned him time and time again not to make the same mistake when we moved here like he did when we moved from MI to SC (he accidentally brought a HUGE box destined for the Salvation Army instead of donating). Well. He did it again. This time in our air freight there were boxes and boxes of papers, junk and other misc. things that were to be thrown out, put in our storage unit or donated. With only a limited amount of weight to bring – you can imagine my dismay at discovering these boxes. All in all, a good laugh – and lesson learned. I have got to be the one to do the final inspection from here on out.


Expatmammy: Unfortunately husband supervised the movers so EVERYTHING came with us. He’s a hoarder doesn’t throw away anything. We even brought a spider from Wales to Dubai!


Of course, It’s not always husbands who get carried away with the packing.

In my case, I thought it was vital to take my collection of rocks from the UK to Japan. Yes, I know – a bit weird having a rock collection; what can I say? Even weirder to take them across the world with me when I move, though! The majority of them are now in storage in the UK. Honest!

Do you have any ‘packing mishaps’ to share? I would love to hear about them in the comments below.



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  1. Good to know I’m not the only adult with a rock collection 😉
    We left our electrical items behind in the UK when we moved to Canada due to the voltage difference. The liquidiser stayed home but the jug ended up here with us. I’m sure it’ll get broken before it’s reunited with its base *sigh*

    1. Hah! Glad I’m not alone with my ever-growing rocks! Yes, I have acquired a couple more over the past week…
      Our container of stuff hasn’t arrived yet, so I’ve no idea what rubbish I’ve packed this time! Something to look forward to.

  2. Our movers packed the landlord’s washing machine from our rental apartment, despite it being covered in stickers which said “do not move” in every language. We only realised when they unloaded it at our new place. They were not happy when the answer to the question “where do you want this?” was “back at our old place”!

    1. Oh no! That’s a BIG problem!
      I shall go with my ‘no entry’ symbols again this time around – they seem to be recognised in every language 😉

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