Moving to Bali: What’s in our bags?

We  did it! We’ve sold all of our stuff and have done the final packing of our bags for tonight’s journey to the other side of the world, literally. We are moving to Bali to use as a home base to start exploring Asia. We’ve spent the last four weeks traveling through Mexico, flying out of Cancun to Denver, selling our stuff that has been in storage, visiting friends, flying to Chicago to visit family and now we are ready. We’re exhausted. Four weeks without our ‘home base’ is a long time for us. We’ve had fun, drama and lots of first time experiences. More on that in future posts.

We’ve pared our things down to 2 suitcases and 2 carry-ons. Then we came to Chicago where G & Miss I were bombarded with new clothes and toys from their Grandmas and friends (they also received some cash, so I’m not complaining). But, we did have to purchase another carry-on to fit all their new wares, so the new number is 2 suitcases and 3 carry-ons. My children are going to look adorable in their new clothes and they’re going to have fun with the Lego sets, so I’m okay with the extra suitcase. Plus, now we have 2 matchy-matchy really cool red spinner carry-ons for when we do long weekend excursions within Asia.

I thought you’d be interested in what fills our suitcases and how we pack for a move half-way across the world. But first, a word on luggage.

Advice on Luggage

Mr. King has wanted new luggage since we were bequeathed our old set from a neighbor in Colorado. Turns out she must not like us at all because they were the most cumbersome, hard to pack black cloth beasts on wheels. But they sort of worked and I didn’t want to get a new set since they functioned. The wheels didn’t work and even if they did, the narrowness and height of the suitcases just made them tip over.

So, when I went out to check on the garage sale we were having to sell all of our stuff I wasn’t surprised to find our old suitcases sitting there marked for $20 for the set of 3. We sold them and went shopping for new ones.

Enter the new Samsonite Spinner suitcases. They are light, have 4 wheels and move with the push of a 2 year old hand. They don’t fall over when standing and are easy to push or pull. They are one of those purchases where once you’ve paid for it, you are so glad you own them. Like upgrading from a Chevy to a Lexus, both function to transport you from one place to another, but the experience is so different. The Spinners are expensive retail, but if you look for discounts, you’ll find them. We feel like we just won the suitcase lottery at TJ Maxx and were doing a “less than half price” happy dance pushing our 3 suitcases out the door for less than $275.

Our swanky new wheels

Our swanky new wheels

Compartmentalize Everything

Packing Clothes

Clothes take up a majority of our luggage. We really don’t need much since we live in tropical climates, but we do enjoy a little variety in our wardrobe. For a move, we pack our clothes in vacuum seal bags that compress them so we can fit more in. We have to be careful of weight limits. The compression bags work so well, there are times where we’ve gone well over the weight limit allowed and had to repack at the airport.

Usually for excursion trips we pack our clothes in mesh packing cubes. Each of us has one travel cube and whatever you can stuff into it, you can take on the trip. The cubes make packing and unpacking really easy. They help organize the suitcase and help keep it from becoming one jumbled mess of clothes. When we arrive at our destination, we just take the cube out and put it in the dresser. Easy as that and unpacking is finished!

Mesh packing cubes keep the insides of our luggage organized

Mesh packing cubes keep the insides of our luggage organized

What else is in our luggage?


Why do shoes take up so much room? I don’t have any tips on shoes…we just stuff them in whatever space we have left. I have paired down the number of flipflops I own, but just cannot rid myself of my bulky hiking shoes.


My MacBook Pro and Kindle, Mr. King’s MacAir and the childrens iPad go into our carry-on luggage. The iPad gets stowed into my Quick Grab Bag (see below) so that I don’t have much trouble getting to it when I need it, which I think I will for a 30 hour journey to Bali.


I have a Kindle, but there are some books that I just started reading, The Ringing Cedars of Russia series, that are not available on Kindle. They are a wonderful series that challenges conventional thought about human nature, spirituality and ways of living and I can’t bear to part with them, just yet. They are a lot of weight, but worth it for me to take along right now. Mr. King doesn’t understand, but he also doesn’t read much. (Can you give him a hard time about that? Please.)

Hygiene & Grooming Products

When packing to travel, I swear at the fact that I have soft contacts that come with a disinfecting ‘system’ that is heavy and cumbersome. I will get lasik, I will get lasik one day, I will, I will, I will. Otherwise, we are pretty simple on personal care products. I don’t have much makeup, or hair and nail products. Mr. King has an electric razor, our special no-fluoride Toms toothpaste with toothbrushes rounds out our products.


The kids were gifted a few Lego sets, books and other toys that we now have to take along. (Thus the extra carry-on size luggage we bought).

Odds & Ends

I have 2 kitchen utensils: a microplane and my julianne peeler that I’m taking with me. I sold all of my kitchen stuff in Belize and am hoping that Bali has really good quality knives for me to use OR a really good quality full time chef I can hire.

Have a Quick Grab Bag

You do not want to be fumbling around, twisting your body in the 2 sq ft of space designated to you to find things that provide a quick relief to you or your children. I always have my little day pack available under the seat that has items that bring contentment and peace immediately.

  • 2 lbs of Pretzel M & Ms for me, Mama.
  • Lifesaver Gummy Candies and Swedish fish for my children during takeoff and landing (for their little ears)
  • iPad within a one zipper reach with NEW apps loaded onto it to keep it interesting
  • 2 sarongs to use as blankets or pillows
  • Diapers for Miss I. She’s nearly 100% potty trained, but I don’t take chances on flights. Also an extra set of clothes for her, just in case.
  • My notebook, so I can write down any genius ideas that come to my mind at 36,000 feet altitude.
Pretzel M&Ms...a gift to the sweet/salty/chocolately cravings.

Pretzel M&Ms...a gift to the sweet/salty/chocolately cravings.

We’re ready for our 30 hour journey to our new home in Bali, Indonesia. We fly from Chicago to LA to Hong Kong to Bali.

Packing for Bali

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8 Responses to “Moving to Bali: What’s in our bags?”

  1. Living Outside of the Box June 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    Seriously?! Pretzel M&M’s?! I’ve never heard of such a thing!!
    Have a fantastic flight and we can’t wait to hear about your adventures in Bali!!!

  2. Brianna June 7, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Wow, and I felt proud of the 4 hour flight to mexico we did with an almost-2-yr-old this past fall.

    My husband and I are looking to move to Peru or Ecuador in about a year (when I finish school for the second time) The kids will be three and one at that point so I would LOVE to hear how your much longer flight goes.

  3. Jennifer Pearce June 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    I think I’ve already expressed my feelings to you about how much I like your new luggage. We may have to find ourselves some soon. I really like those mesh packing cubes for your individual excursion wardrobes. What a great idea to use the gummy lifesavers and swedish fish for the take offs and landings for the kiddos. We are all getting so excited to see you tomorrow. Emily and Marie have been diligently counting down the days. 🙂

  4. Erin June 7, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

    Great blog, very similar to our bags. Except we have one whole carry on devoted to our laptops, ipad, hard drives, etc.

    Food is so cheap in Bali you probably wont cook. The only thing I eat at home is breakfast ceral. You can get a whole meal delivered for 4 people to your house for less than $10, or simply go out. A peeler is so funny, then again I bought a whole bag of makeup which Ive never worn lol.

    Id like to try me some of those pretzel m&ms mmmmm

  5. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family June 8, 2012 at 3:50 am #

    I think you’ll love Bali. The Balinese are warm and so friendly. The food is cheap but I didn’t find it to be that good a quality though. I’d say your julienne peeler will come in good use!

    We love our packing cubes too! Doesn’t it make life so much easier? No more questions about “where’s my this, where’s my that”. I still need to work on parring down our toiletries. We seem to take way to much “just in case” stuff.

    Enjoy your flight!

  6. Lisa Wood June 8, 2012 at 5:28 am #

    I love the idea of your packing cubes – makes it so much easier for when you reach Bali.
    Love the idea of setting up base in Bali and travelling – perfect!
    Congratulations on selling everything.

  7. Mary June 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    Hmm, I think the packing cubes need to be added to our packing list. I am so sick of fumbling through the mess of clothes and since we don’t really unpack I fight with it constantly. Thanks for the tip!

    Pretzel M+M’s? When, how, and why oh why??:) Good luck on the flight and I can’t wait to hear more about Bali!

  8. Terence June 18, 2012 at 3:29 am #

    if you ever make it to Singapore, drop me a mail! Would love to meet your family to hear about your travel stories, and meet your lovely children!



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