The Tea Chest Challenge ~ A guest post by Moni Gilbert

I love games that use imagination, so let’s play a game.   A friend of a friend, six times removed had the opportunity to move to an island on a two year volunteer construction project a few years ago, but there was a catch…..apart from their checked baggage and their carry-on luggage, they were only allowed one tea chest of belongings to be shipped in advance.

They were given accommodation which included a table and chairs, a double bed and one set of drawers, a two seater sofa and a 14 inch tv, no DVD player.   The kitchen would have a stove/oven, basic toaster and electric jug, 2 pots and 1 frying pan, a basic dinner set and some glasses and mugs.  No dishwasher, no microwave. The laundry has a washing machine but no dryer, there is an ironing board but no iron.   No linens or duvets included.

I have decided rather than be sent to an island that has primitive or extreme conditions, I am going to send the 365’ers to Norfolk Island as the weather conditions sound quite even, the history very interesting and all rather civilised.  Norfolk Island is a small island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia, though it has much stronger ties to Australia than New Zealand. Do a quick google of general info and a search on google images and I’m sure you’ll agree that it wouldn’t be too much of a hardship to live there for two years. English is the common language although there is a local patois amongst the islanders. Population 2,302.    Supply ships arrive regularly and technology reasonably up to date. There are plenty of shops on Norfolk including a department store. I will admit that I have never been to Norfolk Island but it is definitely on my to do list.

So here is where the game begins – what would you take? You have your baggage allowance per person of two pieces at max 23 kilos each or 50.6 pounds.    You have your usual carry-on luggage which is roughly 7 kilos plus a handbag or laptop case because I am going to be kind and let you travel with the full allowance of economy rather than the budget-budget option. Plus you have your tea chest that is being shipped over which is 61x51x41cm or 24x20x16 inches.   There was no mention of weight on the tea chest and this is only an imaginary game so we won’t get too hung up over details with that.

I’m not going to put too many rules or perimeters on this game but I will remind you that you will be a volunteer for two years, so you won’t have the income to buy expensive items over there but you will have a small salary that will cover your basic living costs.

The friend of a friend who actually had this experience, struggled with this as she had a large well stocked home– but I think this will be easy for the 365’ers.   If you want to take your partner/husband/wife on this imaginary trip, of course they can come along, they can have their own luggage allowance but sorry the tea chest size doesn’t change.   You don’t have to be an imaginary volunteer construction worker, you can be an imaginary volunteer whatever it is you do worker if that has any bearing on what you would pack.

So what would you pack?

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter a pair of shoes.

Today’s Declutter Item

Here is my home decor item to be decluttered today. If I am recall correctly my husband bought me this on a trip to London once. It was very pretty and has adorned different houses and different area of those houses for many years now. However I have struggled to find a good place for it in this house so it is time to move it on to someone who might love it for some more years to come.

Framed Decor Item

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. My carry-on would have a month’s worth of meds and a couple of changes of clothes. I would also have my laptop, Kindle, and accessories. Anything else I can get there.

    • Hi Deb J
      Any thoughts on what you’d pack in the tea chest for the house?

      My daughter has just announced she would take the cat, but I don’t think the cat would appreciate several weeks in a box in the hold of a ship!

  2. I don’t think I would take anything. If I found I needed something I would get it there. My Bible and books would be on my Kindle. If I really wanted to I could take some scrapbooking stuff to make cards with but I doubt I would have time. So unless I knew I NEEDED more or the “natives” did I wouldn’t take anything else.

    • Hi Deb J – 🙂 The “natives” live in a tax free haven, so they’ll probably be better off than you and I. Here’s an idea – sheets, duvet or quilt? Towells? For me, my microwave would be a serious contender for a free trip to Norfolk! Or if I decided to manage without one, definately the toasted sandwich maker as a back up plan for meals! My crock pot would probably go too. I don’t think my laptop can play multizone dvd’s though Norfolk is the same Region as NZ, so I’d probably put in the dvd player for entertainment. Hmmm……I’m just leaving to take the kids to school so I’ll think some more in the car!

      • Moni, I figure I can get all of that stuff there if I need it. I eat pretty fresh and I don’t eat meat. A microwave would be nice but I wouldn’t NEED it and if I found I did I could see if they had them on the island. I really do like to move/travel light.

        • I also like to dress like the locals. If I’m going to be there 2 years then I want to become one of them. To me it looks like an island that would be easy to live on because of the climate. The hardest thing would be to find a place to live. Since you say that is furnished and the place is furnished with the basics I doubt there would be much I would need. I’m a pretty basic person. I don’t even mind that there isn’t a lot of online access. That would make it easier as far as I’m concerned. Download everything in the AM and when I have time answer and upload. Don’t need to be online to do that actual answering. Of course, this is with the idea that I would be physically fit enough to do this. With things as they are now I wouldn’t be able to go because I couldn’t even volunteer for things.

          • Hi Deb J – I am sending you as a volunteer craft teacher. The locals have an overwhelming need to learn scrapbooking. And by cosmic coincidence whatever type specialist you need to stay healthy, just happened to volunteer for two years too with his/her family and will be staying across the way from you. Oh I love being a Fairy God Mother!

            I love your spirit. I just read on the link that Colleen supplied that the local patois has recently become an acknowledged language by the UN – it is a mix of the seafarers English and Tahitian. Norfolk Islanders are descendants of the sailors from the mutiny on the Bounty, where the sailors wanted to return for their islander wives and then hid on to Pitcairn Island. Eventually they moved onto Norfolk Island. How cool is that for a heritage?

            Here are some of the local words:
            watawieh yourley – hello, how are you?
            kushu – good thank-you.
            kushu = I’m fine
            naawi = swimming
            tiicha = teacher
            Wan kau f’ mais bradhas s’ orf aut = My brother’s cow has got out
            Hi es kain a’ huihuiwan = He’s somewhat dirty
            Kat krors aa paedak aafta tii en wi gu sing = Cut across the paddock after tea and come for a singsong

            Of course, English is also spoken.

            And, when driving on Norfolk…….cows have right of way. I love it.

          • Moni, I’m ready to go. You have taken care of all the issues. I will take the extra suitcases and the tea chest full of scrapbook supplies. I’m enjoying this whole idea and after reading about Norfolk Island at the link I am really wishing it were a true trip. I think it would be a blast. I’d want to quickly learn to speak N’rflk too.

  3. What a nice challenge!

    I guess I start with a (very) basic wardrobe. One blazer, one jeans, one sweat pants, one 3/4 pants (I don’t go shorter than that), bathing suit, socks, underwear, a dress. Some jewelery (not much since I don’t wear them that often), 1 large bag/carry on and one smaller bag for going out. Two coats which I will be wearing (the one is a very thin coat anyway). A vest or sweater. Some t-shirts.

    Wallet, passport, driver’s license, debit card. Mobile phone. Agenda, Little Notebook, 2 pens. Photocamera that can also record film.

    As for cosmetics; sunscreen, a glass file, mascara (+ back ups), a blush-, eyeshadow- and concealer palette, lipbalm, cuticle oil and a supply of cotton pads and q tips that last a month or three. Day-, eye-, nightcream, and cleanser.

    Some DVD’s and CD’s, of films and music I enjoy regurly (or, if there is really no place, on my laptop) in a CD organizer. Laptop, headphones, external hard disk, one or 2 USB sticks, e-reader.

    And further? I’m really sorry I can’t take my bow and arrows with me. However, I think I can get creative and make my own. I think I have to say goodbye to most of my books, but since I have a e-reader, I don’t really care. I do think I take my 4 most loved school books with me (student after all, and with no weight limit) since they are a crime to get them digital. I also think I will scan old photo’s.

    Well, actually, seem to think about it, I think that if I pay extra for my luggage (very thick schoolbooks), I might not need the extra tea chest.

    (And actually, I find the accomodations quite luxury. For instance, I don’t need a DVD player since I already have a laptop!)

    • Oh, and I almost forget my medication! But that is not much. I can easily fit it into my suitcase if I want.

    • Hi Nurchamiel – guess what? There is an archery range on Norfolk! I’m not kidding, I googled it! Is it too big to go in your luggage or tea chest? I have never seen a bow and arrow in person.

      I imagine they’re not the easiest of items to get thru customs! But for fun’s sake we’ll say that it gets thru without any drama on this trip.

      My hubby would insist on taking his guitar so he’d probably either forego one of his suitcases to take the guitar or pay the excess dimension.

      • Whoa! I would certainly bring mine! It’s usually dissambled when not in use (in three parts), but I guess it probably will exceed the 61 cm. 🙁

        Anyway, if I get some small supplies, say a cord, feathers, glue, arrowtips and a little helper to glue the feathers, I could make my own bow. Plus some armprotectors, a tab and such.

        When can I move?

        • I didn’t know you were an archer. My eldest daughter is, as well.

        • Hi Nurchamiel – it would probably fit in your suitcase once dismantled. As the Fairy God Mother of this game I would say you have been granted and in the interests of bonding with the locals, I would grant you the extra piece of baggage (I assume it has its own case?). It sounds like the archery event they host is quite international.

  4. Well, I would want a bedside light, and a duvet plus covers and pillows and an iron. Presumeably I could get those there. Towels ditto.
    My clothes, few bits of jewellery and wash bag would easily fit in to my suitcase allowance.I would need to cut down on shoes -perhaps only take 4 pairs of footwear.
    I would probably buy a kindle before I left (I don’t have one now and no plans to get one) as that would sort reading needs.
    I’d want my laptop/camera/mobile: they would be in walk on luggage.

    So in the tea chest I would want:
    2 x A5 notebooks and a a few felt pens, a pen an pencil.
    Perhaps my cosy brightly coloured fleece blanket, as I do love colour and cosiness. A hot waterbottle. Some painkillers.
    A good sharp kitchen knife
    perhaps my favourite mug.
    A couple of pairs of good quality rubber gloves for washing up as I have contact dermatitis.
    A small veg steamer.
    Tea bags and a teapot. Plasters. A couple of my plastic tubs for food storage.
    A small digital radio (which I don’t currently own).
    My 2ft sq ironing mat, that folds flat, assuming no ironing board available so could iron on the table.
    A memory stick for laptop.

    I think that is it.

    Really great game Moni!

    • Hi Katharine – good thinking of a kitchen knife. I will add that to my pile. I’m also thinking my lasagne dish – its been with me since my first very tiny house where it served every purpose from a salad bowl to cooking dinner in it to baking a dessert in it – and of course the occaisional lasagne! These days I have a range of serving dishes but if I had to pick one it would be the lasagne dish.

  5. There are very few things that can’t be replaced in life: photos, wedding ring, etc. We can even put photos on flash drives for back up, so I would only take a couple of outfits to wear and some linens, possibly. The rest can be bought where you move to or do without. If people there can live without them, then why would you need them?

    • Hi Spendwisemom – I am going to declare to all that the cost of freighting the tea chest was paid for by the volunteer service. I think it is sweet that you value your wedding ring so highly. My hubby doesn’t wear his as he works in an industrial area, that is fine by me as I have an uncle who lost a finger due to it being hooked and wrenched. I wear mine maybe once or twice a week as I’m not really a ring person and I find it annoys me when I’m working at the keyboard.

      Aren’t we lucky that we live in a technology age where so many things can be digitatised. I recently got an iPod Touch so I’m still learning all the clever things it can do, but I’m really enjoying having all my music with me.

      • I love my wedding and engagement rings Moni – hand made by a local crafts person. But like you I had never worn rings before so it was quite a culture shock for my hand and sometimes I have to take it off togive my finger a rest 🙂 This is the source of much amusement for my husband, who also had never worn any jewellery before but never takes his wedidng ring off, even to go to bed. Sometimes I forget to put them on in the morning…

        • Hi Katherine – we updated/upgraded my wedding and engagement rings about 7 years ago – but I’m still not much of a ring wearer. I like to think of them as part of my ‘dress-up-to-go-out’ attire (other clothes included of course)

  6. A big thank you to Colleen for finding the lovely link to Norfolk Island – I missed that one when I was doing my initial research. I love warm weather and I love pine trees. I grew up in an area surrounded by pine plantations but unfortunately the high altitude of the area meant it was rather cold.

  7. 2 pairs running shoes
    Keen water shoes
    Running tights, tees, running socks, jersey dress, swimsuits, convertable cargo pants/shorts, tank tops w/built in shelf bra’s – pretty much clothing found at Athleta or REI
    Multi-purpose gloves
    Ipad & Ipad w/solar recharger
    North Face jacket w/ removable insert layer
    Leatherman or SOG multi-tool
    Passport, ID cards, credit cards, cash
    Coconut oil – it does everything from sunscreen, antiseptic to lotion to hair conditioner
    Combo sleeping bag+pillow
    camelback water storage
    Collapsable food storage containers/utensils
    Revolver w/extra ammo
    Snorkel, fins dive mask
    Mcrofiber bath towel & wash cloths
    Marcona almonds
    Directions to the local beer tiki bars

    • Hi Jane – sounds like you’ll fit in just perfectly on Norfolk Island. Sounds like you are up with the play on minimising living requirements to maximise fun/sports equipment.

    • Wow, you must be darker skinned than I – coconut oil helps me fry! NO revolver! We are peaceful people!

      • The revolver has me wondering, what do you need it for Jane.

        • Back in my mid-20’s I was single & living alone in Texas & decided I wanted to take my first real vacation that didn’t involve me going back home to see my folks. So I took a road trip to see the SouthWest. I had spent the day in a delightful quaint town full of family-type tourists & felt nothing but safe & never in danger. But then I went to refill my car that evening so I wouldn’t have to the following morning & could just zoom on outta town to the next touristy destination I had on my list.
          As I was pumping the gas I got approached from behind by 2 late teen/early 20’s thugs who were taunting me with verbal threats/intentions as well as physically & very inappropriately touching at me. Then one of the guys snatched my purse & they both ran off never to be seen or heard from again. Yes the cops came out but no they never caught them. I was stranded essentially & felt super vulnerable after that but vowed never again to be that defenseless.
          So I took self-defense classes & got trained in handling lots of different style guns & other hand-held weaponry. Turns out I’m a very good shot & while I hope never to find myself in a situation where I would need to defend myself again – I now feel pretty capable & very confident that I can.
          I got suckered into a false sense of security as I was vacationing in a family-oriented place full of happy people. Turns out also that there is also a lot of squelching of crime statistics in touristy towns in order to not scare off the tourists. A lot of this stuff goes “unreported” in the local media because it would shine a bad light on an otherwise “safe” place. It’s like the local reporters & local cops & chamber of commerce agree to keep that stuff on the down-low to prevent bad press. I don’t ever trust anymore that a whole town is “safe” or that “everyone here is so peaceful”.

          • I am saddened to hear your story Jane. May you never encounter such behavior again, and if you do may the gun be a big enough deterrent without having to pull the trigger. Stay safe.

          • Thank you Wendy. Yes I concur & hope to never be in another situation that would warrant needing such a defense. I much prefer a quiet little life devoid of drama!

          • Hi Jane,
            I also am sorry you were attacked in such a way. It isn’t nice to be physically handled against your will or left stranded without money etc but I also sincerely hope you never feel inclined to take another’s life for the sake of a lost handbag. What is sadder than what happened to you is the lasting legacy it has left you with. Feeling the need to carry a deadly weapon is a scar that really needs healing.

  8. Love this game (and we did it, my family, but with more than a tea chest – three years in Vanuatu! We stored all the antiques/furniture, as well as art I think, all kitchen-y stuff etc… The hardest was coming back to Aust, knowing we had most stuff, but used to what we had there…) I’ve also moved to France for a year, and so this is relevant too – sure everything can be bought there, but I was a student, so money wasn’t flowing freely (and of course, I’d rather have travelled!)

    For those who said they’d buy there – my experience is that there’s limited choice (which is fine) but the prices aren’t always what you’d expect. Colleen also said that you wouldn’t be ‘rolling in it’ (rich), so perhaps it’s better for the world if you take some items you already own, like and regularly use.

    Moni – with the right programs on your computer, this ‘zoning’ of DVDs goes out the window. (something you could change today, without worrying about Norfolk Island!)

    I’d take an iron (if my work indicated that would be needed, otherwise not)
    I’d take a set of linens, and a cotton blanket
    I’d take two towels
    I’d seriously debate on the microwave!!
    I’d take my two good knives, and a cutting board
    I’d take a good salt and pepper mill
    I’d take a big plastic salad bowl – big and light, and multi-usable
    I’d take pegs (cause… you know… the weirdest things are hard to find!)
    Thanks to Katharine, beside light FOR SURE, and some HIGH WATTAGE GLOBES (dark globes and developing world seem to go hand in hand, or at least in my experience!)
    Maybe some of my pyrex storage (for leftovers, baking, reheating etc etc)
    … this almost makes me wonder, how much of my kitchen would fit in a tea chest! once I had no crockery/glasswear
    (If this was my parents list – wine glasses, they take them on 2 week holidays!!)

    The luggage would be for clothes, small electronics, any sentimental stuff (I know I can do it!) Hand luggage would cover off on a pen or two etc. I travel with less than 20kg on a normal trip, so I know I could do it for this trip easily.

    • Excellent point Snosie! Yes why repeat buy when the freight of the tea chest is covered! I upgraded my sheets to egyptian cotton earlier this year and I wouldn’t be leaving them behind!

      Colleen’s away today recuperating and so I’m filling in, this is a good game to play with a bunch of girls with wine glasses topped up – hilarious the priorities of non-minimalists are very different to 365’ers. I only discovered on the weekend that my laptop only plays Oz & NZ region DVD’s so I will look into that. My hubby bought his dream big screen and home theatre 18 months ago and then discovered he couldn’t multi-zone the dvd player due to the something-something-something, everyone tech savvy has given it a go and the manufacturer is quite adamant that it cant be done. So we have the one in the kids room (an $69 cheap dvd player of dubious brand) that has been the saviour of our entertainment. Otherwise, we download a ‘hire’ thru iTunes and plug in the iPod.

      Vanuatu – how lovely! Have always wanted to go there too! I have a friend who is currently living in Rarotonga with their two small sons and its such a different relaxed experience for family life.

    • OOh, pegs, definitely. I am also adding my laundry bag as it is made of lovely 1950’s material by my mum, originally to store sails on our boat when I was little. Very practical, lovely to look at and a reminder of good times/people.
      Would a duvet fit in such a small tea chest was my worry, hence buying it there.
      Also added 2 x pyrex dishes, a small chopping board and a collander and my drinking water bottle.

  9. Love the idea of this. Clothes (non ironing type, probably travel clothes from eg Kathmandu) would easily fit in suitcase/s with iPad, which covers books and all computing needs. Tea chest would just have bedding and maybe mosquito net for summer….I can’t survive without good sleep! I am travelling in my caravan at the moment and it is similar really…personal possessions have to fit into a couple of very small cupboards. Hair dryer for winter is the only other thing…not for vanity but so I don’t get cold!

    • Hi Holly – sounds like you have the travelling light thing already in practice. I’d be taking my laptop as part of my carry on and my e-reader, ipod, phone and camera in my handbag. Isn’t technology great how we can take so much in such a little area?

      My son has a sleeping bag from Kathmandu which is for extreme cold but it packs down into about 20cmX15cmX15cm. Cost a lot but it was worth it when he was doing overnight dirt bike rides/camps and everything had to be carried in a backpack. I would pack that in my Tea Chest but the conditions are too warm in Norfolk for it.

    • Oh yes, the mozzie net is a AWESOME idea – and add some earplugs for me, so I can’t hear the darn things!

  10. Hi Guys
    You might like to check what is not allowed into Norfolk Island from the following link.
    I came across this link
    Happy Holidays.

  11. So, I just packed up my entire house (everything that I have used in the last year, minus furniture) into a closet. That included textbooks, as well as old schoolwork that is on it’s way out. I actually think I could take everything I use(I wouldn’t need school supplies for instance)

    Laptop, charger, external hard drive. : carryon
    (I guess I’d buy a connector so I have a use for the TV)
    Cell phone, charger : purse
    Camera, batteries, battery : purse
    Spare camera(waterproof, uses same batteries): carryon
    Microwave: in the tea chest

    Most of my casual wardrobe (most everything in that would fit in the carryon, though might squeeze some around/in the microwave)
    Half my shoes: work boots, tennies, 2-3 pairs of flats, 2 pairs of sandals, and a pair of heels. (One checked luggage, with the remaining clothes.
    A dress or two.
    Unmentionables, also in carryon.

    Other (in other checked bag, or in purse):
    fleece blanket
    I don’t own a sheet set for a double bed, so I might get one there, or I might take my full set and see how that works out.
    some kitchen utensils so I don’t have to buy them
    a teddy bear (yes, I’m 21, and yes, I have several teddy bears)
    deck of cards
    leatherman, with screwdriver/hex head/all sorts of attachments
    some snack foods
    my jewelry/makeup case
    some pens/pencils/paper/sharpies

    I could probably leave out some of that stuff, but if I had that much space, I’d take a lot – leave some room for souveniers, but take plenty. I’m a unique packer – I will use the whole allotted space, but take the smallest bag that fits everything I assuredly need. I usually pull out what I need, find the best bag to fit it, and then add a few things to fill it up unless weight is an issue. (EG, pack 4 shirts and two pairs of pants for a trip, realize there’s extra space, and then pack a few more shirts)

    After the closet packing, I’ve come to realize that I’m happy with the amount of stuff I own and use – it’s not that much really. I just need to get rid of things that I don’t use, which take up a lot of my space right now.

    • Hi Amanda – I’m glad someone else loves their microwave! I figured I could fit all sorts of things inside it. Mum got a microwave when they were new to the market – horrendously expensive I believe – and her and her friends all went off to microwave cooking classes (????? what is there to learn??????) – this was around the time I started helping in the kitchen, so this was a longside mum mastering the microwave, so its my preferred method wherever possible.

      Good idea taking a waterproof camera – my older daughter has one and it has been the best thing ever as far as cameras go. No drama if it gets wet and she’s take lots of fun photos underwater.

      • Yeah, my waterproof camera doesn’t take as good of photos as my regular one, so I keep both. The waterproof one is lighter too, so it’s definitely the “travel” one if I am not sure what I’ll be doing (camping, backpacking, etc.)

        Being a mere 21 years old, non-microwave cooking is practically unheard of to many of my friends. I regularly use a microwave and stovetop, but rarely use the actual oven. Even that though is unheard of. I live in a house with three other people, and only one of them owns a pot and cookie sheet. The others live off hot pockets and instant oatmeal. While instant food is a big part of my diet while working and attending college, I do make it a point to cook fairly often. I suppose I might also try to bring a crockpot (I own a large and small one), as I tend to make large meals, and then eat the same thing for several days. Hmmm… that may just put me over the weight limit, but I could leave out some clothing and makeup. (or pack more heavy stuff in the tea chest 😛 )

        • Hi Amanda – Snap – I have a large and small crock pot too. My sis in law has shown me recently how to make a chocolate self saucing pudding in my large crock pot – yum yum!

          • I have cherry butter (no added sugar, and from our cherry tree in the backyard) cooking in the small one right now. I love both of them, but they both have their uses. I think I would take the large one if I only had room for one, since I can make larger batches. I love the small one dearly, but I don’t use it as much.

  12. My first thought when I read this post from Moni was that I would to tell organisation running the set up to take the ironing board away and I won’t bring any clothes that require ironing ~ what a hardship that would be 🙄 😉 . Then I would only bring the linen (towels, bedding etc) and clothes I felt I would require, my laptop (providing there was internet access) and maybe a couple of baking pans and cooking utensils since there were none on the kitchen list. I would hope that that would be all I would need because unlike Deb J I would have no intention to buy stuff once I got there. This just goes to show how much on the stuff that is still in my house that, push come to shove, I really don’t require for survival. I would hope that there will be a community of us volunteers there that would together create our own entertainment and not require DVDs or the television provided.

    Now, when do we leave? 😉

    • Hi Colleen – yes it would be good to get among the locals. Yes they have broadband and all the modern conveniences we enjoy.

      🙂 We should have a 365 conference – could just see us all leaving the airport with one backpack and a laptop.

  13. I did this in 1980 with husband and two children: one year, total of 6 bags for four of us.
    I took bed linens but not towels (bought those) and basic clothes (in two sizes for little ones).
    Now, I would include rice cooker unless I could get one there, plus bed linens and probably a pillow. Clothes: shoes, swimsuit, 3 pants, 7 tops, 1 skirt, sweaters, socks, underwear, pjs. Meds: allergy for hubs, lots of sunscreen, my vitamins. Mascara and remover. Laptop, Bible. How could I live without my knitting needles? I have a small case with my collection of needles. Small sewing kit with scissors. Depending on what is available, I would take soap and shampoo that hubs isn’t allergic to. What else? Maybe a couple of spices that I use all the time and might not be available there. That’s about it. If I’m going for two years, I don’t need a lot of stuff–my focus will be on experiences.

    • Hi Willow – good thinking to include something allergy-free until you establish what you can and can’t get over there. It would buy you time if you had to look into ordering them over the internet.

      Where did you go in 1980?

      • We moved from the US to Indonesia. The first year we spent in Bandung, Java and then moved to Papua where 5 barrels of our stuff was waiting for us (since we would need everything for a household in NG). During our time in Bandung, we rented a fully furnished house–no need for dishes, pots/pans, etc.

        • Hi Willow – wow what an experience! My bro-in-law spent 4 months on PNG and said it was an eye-opener and was really surprised at what he couldn’t get over there.

  14. Another gorgeous fact about Norfolk Island ……the phone book, which obviously isn’t very big, also includes people’s nicknames! I love it!

  15. I actually moved to Japan for one year on a scholarship (so not much money) and I brought just clothes/shoes, bath towels and some photos for memories and to show to my new friends there (no digital photos in 1998). Plus some basic writing material, and my Italian-Japanese dictionaries and grammar 🙂

    The mini-apartment I was given for almost free, had a bed with a blanket, a wardrobe, a table and a chair, a bookshelf, of course kitchen and bathroom but no other item. Before leaving I knew that the previous exchange student from my Uni in Venice had left some stuff in a box for me, but no idea what it was. I found out on arrival there were enough kitchenware for my basic needs, then I bought sheets for the bed and a tv-VCR set.

    At the end of the year I had to ship back 3 big cardboard boxes full of photo albums 😛 and of books for my studies. The price of the shipment almost used up all the few money I had managed to save during the year 😛

    • Hi Sabrina – what an awesome experience – the friend of a friend six times removed that I based this game on, she came back with half a tea chest full. The closer she got to her return to NZ date, the less she replaced things and began getting rid of things to make packing easier. Plus she knew she was coming back to all her stuff that had been put in storage.

  16. How could I have missed this post?

    I just did a little experiment last week and tried to pack all my clothes just to see how many there are. Turns out they fill one suitcase (excluding shoes) – I think, if I’d move overseas with your generous allowance, I’d take one suitcase of clothes, shoes and toiletries (hairbrush, towels etc.) and in the other suitcase I’d pack my duvet, pillow and sheets (fits, tried that as well. 😉 ) and embedded in those a few favourite plates, bowls and cups (just one or two of each kind).
    That leaves the whole tea box for unnecessary things and I think, I’d take my sewing box, my sewing machine (given, it works over there as well), my clarinet and a few favourite books.

    • Hi Sanna – well done! I think you’re the only one who picked up that there are two suitcases allowed!

      • Not quite the only one 😉 I had my shoes in one and my “other” collection in the other one. I don’t have suitcases to check it, but I know that my clothes -almost- fit in a carryon (college-age-girl syndrome of a lot of clothes). Though I don’t know why I put shoes in checked and clothes in carryon, they’d fit better the other way, and I’m more likely to find clothes that fit than shoes that fit if I lose my checked bag (size 10 in mens, vs a medium size in clothing).

  17. We two minimalist Canadian gals in our 60’s have been having a ball writing back and forth about our pending trip to Norfolk island. It’s just our cup of tea chest and we know about Commonwealth travel. We agree on a couple of things outright: NO IRON, nice bedding in the carry-on, a fully loaded Kindle, a fully-loaded ipod, some sheet music, 4 pairs of shoes each — one being work boots (we are hard to fit), SPF50 long-sleeved shirts, large-brimmed cotton sunhat, everything else in silk for washability, durability and packing ease.
    We do want to know if the store carries chocolate.

    Jean and Wendy

    • Hi Jean & Wendy and welcome to 365 Less Things. If you two are going to Norfolk I am coming too. You have just the right sense of humour and I thing we’d have a blast. I like your list too, you have narrowed it down to the must haves and left out the minutia.

      I am sure the store will carry chocolate and it will be duty free. Win Win!

    • Hi Jean and Wendy – Norfolk Island definately has chocolate including all the lovely duty free ones as it is a tax haven.
      Yes good idea to preload your kindle, not all e-books are available outside the US or UK due to region license restrictions – ironically we can get the paper book but it seems some sort red-tape thing and its impossible to get around as it is monitored by your ISP. It has improved in the last 18 months that I have gone digital book but one of the first things I thought of when I thought about spending two years abroad was to load up my kobo – word would be out that all farewell gifts should be in the form of book vouchers!

  18. This is has been on my mind since I read the post last year. My twist, three kids, 4, 2, and 2 months. It is an interesting game (though I guess I get 10 checked suitcases, which is far more than enough).

    • Hi Leigh, with three small children I guess there must be days when two suitcase and running of the that desert island would sound like a better prospect. I know I felt that way at time when mine were little and I only had two. Come to think of it I still feel that way at time now and they have both left home but aren’t far away and still call on me to help them out with things. The things they ask me to do these days can be pretty interesting!!!

    • Leigh – Hi, I too was thinking about this challenge the other day (LOL) my aunty and uncle recently sold up everything and immigrated to Australia to be close to their only child. They boarded the plane with a suitcase and a cabin bag each, all their worldly possessions. I thought that was very adventurous and a little bit brave as there was a lot of red tape to get through transferring their savings, house proceeds and retirement fund/superannuation transferred but how exciting!