What to put in UAB?

It seems like so much of life in the Foreign Service, at this point, is having absolutely no idea what on earth you’re doing and figuring it out as you go.

When we packed up our house in Alexandria before moving to Dhaka, we divided our stuff into three general categories: UAB (unaccompanied baggage, or air freight), HHE (household equipment, or sea freight), and storage (which is stored at a storage facility somewhere in Virginia until you come back to the US).

We got 450 lbs of UAB, and we had no idea what to put in it. And how much is 450 lbs of stuff? What does that even look like?

There’s an art to packing UAB, since HHE usually doesn’t arrive until you’ve been at post for 2 to 3 months, sometimes longer.  I truly had no idea what to put in our UAB, and I’m sure there are other first time FSOs and EFMs wondering the same thing.

We decided to fill the UAB with things we use every day.  Nate and I both love cooking, so, for us, that was mostly kitchen stuff. I started tracking what I use the most often when I’m in the kitchen and what else we generally use on a regular basis. So that was basically:

  • Bed linens
  • Pillows
  • Towels
  • Blankets
  • Favorite pots and pans (one each nonstick, stainless steel, cast iron and Dutch oven)
  • Food processor
  • Knife block plus knives
  • Favorite bakeware (cake pans, loaf pans)
  • Wii and games
  • Stovetop spoon rest
  • Salt and pepper grinders
  • Dog beds
  • Hand mixer
  • Coffee bean grinder
  • French press
  • Umbrellas
  • Printer
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Yoga mat and block
  • Binder of favorite recipes
  • Record player and LPs

We cleared everything out of the dining room, which we designated as the UAB area, and just made a huge pile of stuff on the floor. Well, the movers packed all that and we still had an extra 150 pounds, at least, to fill.  So at the last minute Nate drove back to the hotel, grabbed our 2 biggest/heaviest suitcases, and drove back home.  We started pulling clothes out of the suitcases to make room in our luggage for other stuff that we knew we’d forgotten.  In addition to our original UAB pile, we added:

  • Hangers
  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • PS3 and games
  • Glass mixing bowls
  • More pots and pans
  • Dish towels
  • Cloth napkins
  • Cookbooks
  • Wine glasses
  • Laundry basket
  • Laundry hamper
  • Boxing gloves (mine and Nate’s)

So, yeah, 450 pounds is a lot of stuff.  If I’d known we’d have more space, I would have been a little more strategic.  We wish we’d put the following in our UAB:

  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Cups
  • Silverware
  • Coffee cups
  • Cutting boards
  • Surge protectors

We got some dinnerware in our welcome kit, but there’s only 4 of everything.  As nice as it is to have plates to use, it would be really nice if there were more than 4.

Our UAB was delivered yesterday, which was, frankly, much quicker than we expected.  I thought we’d need to wait much longer than 10 days.  The delivery company had the boxes in our apartment in unpacked in less than an hour.  And nothing was broken and everything was in good shape!

Lots of random stuff waiting to be put away

Lots of random stuff waiting to be put away

I think Athena might have been even more excited than I was about the arrival of our UAB because she finally got all her dog beds (there are 4 of them).  She somehow rationed her naptime and spent at least an hour in each bed today, sometimes in more than one bed at a time.

She put these two beds together for optimum snuggles

She put these two beds together for optimum snuggles. Note the blurred wagging tail.

Nate’s glad his extra suits are here, I’m glad to have the kitchen back in place, and Athena loves having more beds than she needs.  Our apartment is finally starting to feel like home!


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