Moving to Valencia – Geez I Wish I’d Packed That

In by Susan4 Comments


Our shipment of household goods was estimated to be in Valencia within 6-12 weeks of our August 2nd pick-up. Since we had a detour to Wisconsin and weren’t going to be arriving for 5 weeks ourselves, we thought we could easily get by with just a carry on and a suitcase apiece. We’ve already been in Valencia for five weeks and It turns out our stuff won’t arrive for another month -- at best.

In the meantime, we’re making do.

Where We Went Right

We packed summer clothes for our five weeks in Wisconsin and our first couple of weeks in Valencia. Until today, it’s been warm. But, sandals aren’t going to cut it much longer.

We have our mini Bose speaker for music, our kindles, and laptop. That’s all the entertainment equipment we ever needed. Check.

We stuffed two towels and a bar of soap in our suitcase at the last minute. That was a good move. We didn’t get in until 1 a.m. after spending hours and hours in Barcelona trying to get Lizzie and the cats out of customs. It was nice to wash the worry and exhaustion of our journey off the next morning.

I also packed a picnic knife and a tiny bar sized cutting board. We’ve used those to prep every home meal in the last month.

And for the pets – nail trimmers, furminator, shampoo, and first aid supplies. Check!

Where We Went Wrong

 We shipped instead of carried our wine opener. How smart was that? In Spain a bottle of wine cost less than an opener. Did we really think we’d forgo vino tinto for weeks on end? Now we’ll have two openers. Of course, with wine so cheap we may wear one out.

Even dumber, we shipped the four pack of European electrical plug adapters we bought just before this trip. Jamie is still kicking himself over that one. He remembers wrapping them up and stuffing them into some box or another. By the time they arrive, we won’t even need them.

Two plastic sporks from REI worked well on our last bike tour. They just don’t cut it when you’re trying to live like you’re at home. One broke as I was dishing up ice cream. The other one melted when Jamie was turning pimientos de Padrón in the only pan we have just now, the paella pan someone left behind.

We tried plastic forks and spoons from the grocery store and then finally broke down and bought a cheap set of flatware for 4. Also some cooking utensils after friends lent us a steamer pot useful for our vegetables, rice, and quinoa.

Last week I missed a party because the weather changed and all I have are summer clothes. Well, I could have gone, but brrr.

What We Planned to Purchase

On day one we purchased some necessities: kitchen things like dish towels, potholders, glasses, a trash can, cleaning products, and sheets. Actually, our relocation agent purchased the set of sheets as well as a litter box and litter (arena de gatos) and left them in our apartment before we arrived. After 24 hours in transit, Emmie and the boys really appreciated that!

Later shopping trips included mattress covers, duvet and duvet covers, bath mats, shower curtains, tub mats, an electric kettle, solar LED lights, a shopping trolley, and more pet supplies. We’ve done a lot of shopping at el Corte Inglés and we’re now prime members.

Some things are surprisingly expensive - like 24 euros for a $3.99 dish drainer. Some things are quite reasonable like 55 euros for a duvet cover.

I told Jamie it felt like we were 18,  just married and moving out on our own for the first time.

Unexpected & Urgent

We wound up needing a vet appointment right away for Zander cat and had nothing but the heavy-duty airline crate. Try carrying that to the vet! Jamie did more than try but he said he was not doing it for the follow-up appointment. A beautiful blue soft-sided carrier set us back another 40 euros. And we still have 5 gorgeous super-duty airline crates. One has become TJ’s favorite hide-out. Anyone interested in the other four?

All in all, we packed a lot into our luggage. In hindsight, there is one thing we should not have packed. We over purchased canned dog food before we left so we threw 3 cans into our carry-on. Those were flagged at security x-ray and we thought we were going to lose them – another $10.00 loss. But, they waived them on through. Later, Jamie and I mused about the pull-tab on the top of the can and wondered if they even considered what an edge-weapon that would be?

Jamie has a niece who’s an executive in Homeland Security. I think I’ll mention it to her. Besides, canned food is too danged heavy for words. I know because I was doing the carrying.

Susan Carey retired in 2017 after a long business career.  She writes about her experiences as a vagabond in Europe.  Susan shares her gentle life with her husband, Jamie.


  1. Haha. This blog entry is hilarious. We had an “office suitcase” that was over the weight limit. I looked in there and saw a stapler and all kinds of things that we could buy in Spain. I used to backpack a lot so I know how to travel light but Allan is a city boy and it’s kind of funny. Unless the stapler has sentimental value like it has David Bowie’s signature on it, the “I might need that” is not a good idea. We have a friend who said she kept overpacking and had to remind herself that it’s not like she’s going to be in the middle of a jungle. Maybe “If I need it, I’ll buy it there” would be better. It’s kind of a dilemma because it seems wasteful to keep buying things when consumerism is already a problem, but I try to balance things out by making sure to give things away instead of throwing it away. So, it’s at least getting recycled.

    1. Author

      Hi Anna,
      I know how much easier it is just to pack everything. Packing light takes effort. You have to really think through things. And when it’s not a vacation but your life, it’s even harder to whittle things down. A friend who ended up with many of my kitchen things, books, CD’s, etc. just visited and said she’s reminded of me every morning when she puts her blueberries in my former bowl. That was nice to know.

  2. Susan, so good to see you following your dreams. Your lifestyle is an inspiration and I’m enjoying the interesting information. Gene sends his best regards to you. Wishing you continued health and happiness. Diana

    1. Author

      Good to hear from you too, Diana. I hope you’re having a good life. Maybe you’re retired now too? We follow a lot of blogs to pick up tips from other international expats. We just hope our blog will help someone along the way (eventually, when we write more).

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