How to Return Overseas from Furlough (in 55 easy steps)

  1. Purchase plane tickets.
  2. Signup for the 30 day free amazon prime membership.
  3. Pull out suitcases.
  4. Give yourself a pep talk: You can do this.
  5. Make the “I promise to still love you at the end of this” pact with your spouse and children.
  6. Ask children to compile their most special belongings for packing.
  7. Check the packing list you wrote pre-furlough. Trust yourself. You really do need that much foot powder.
  8. Designate special packing area.
  9. Instruct family members to place items they wish to bring in the designated area.
  10. Re-check airline baggage allowance.
  11. Take a deep breath.
  12. Eat a slice of cheese cake. After all, you won’t have cheese cake for two years.
  13. Begin placing items in suitcases.
  14. Wonder: Why are there six nerf guns in the designated packing area?
  15. Tell son to pick one nerf gun.
  16. Console devastated son.
  17. Tell son to pick two nerf guns and promise to try for three if space allows.
  18. Feel incredibly guilty for depriving your child of a “normal” childhood.
  19. Eat a Mars chocolate bar. After all, you won’t have Mars bars for two years.
  20. Buy sporting equipment you may or may not need so you can take advantage of the free sports equipment luggage allowance.
  21. Pack vitamins and home schooling books in the box with your sporting goods.
  22. Ask your spouse to sort through their clothing.
  23. Sort your clothing.
  24. Sort your children’s clothing.
  25. Irritate your spouse by asking them to sort their clothing again as you can’t possibly allocate suitcase space to 7 pairs of trousers.
  26. Become irritated by your spouse’s rebuttal of, “Well what do you need all those shoes for?”
  27. Take a nap.
  28. Make a fancy flavored coffee. After all, you won’t have fancy coffee again for 2 years.
  29. Pack spouse’s 7 pairs of trousers as you absolutely need those shoes.
  30. Open door to unexpected visitor.
  31. Internally panic over visitor’s goodbye gifts to your children.
  32. Change subject when in front of gift giving visitor your child eagerly asks, “Can we pleeeeeeaase bring it with us?”
  33. Place last item in suitcase #1 and zip closed.
  34. Congratulate yourself on successfully achieving a perfectly packed suitcase with .5kilos spare as an airport scale discrepancy buffer.
  35. Eat celebratory cheese cake. Same reason applies as to the previous cheese cake.
  36. Order new bedding online.
  37. Order pecans.
  38. Order duck tape.
  39. And Christmas stockings.
  40. And bug bite cream.
  41. And dental floss.
  42. Give passionate justification for pecan purchase to spouse who does not care for pecans.
  43. Eat another Mars bar. You didn’t like how testy your spouse got over the pecans.
  44. Place final items in suitcase #2.
  45. Congratulate yourself on another perfectly packed suitcases and the spare .5kilo airport scale discrepancy buffer.
  46. Eat celebratory cheese cake. Tell yourself you’ll diet again overseas.
  47. You are 48hours pre-takeoff. Give up any sort of responsible parenting and let children watch cartoons all day.
  48. Place final items in suitcases #3 and #4.
  49. Congratulate yourself on perfectly packed suitcases with 24hours to spare.
  50. Enjoy a peaceful night sleep, secure in your super packing capabilities.
  51. 8 hours pre-takeoff: Cry real tears as your spouse and children bring their “Oh wait! I forgot this…and this…and this…” items to the previously empty designated packing area.
  52. Attempt to ignore intrusive items. Maybe they’ll disappear if you just don’t look at them.
  53. Console yourself with cheese cake.
  54. 4 hours pre-takeoff: You are out of time. Haphazardly stuff additional items into previously perfectly packed suitcases.
  55. 3 hours pre-takeoff: Leave for airport praying for an airport scale miracle.


At the time of this writing, my family is 24 hours pre-takeoff. We’ve given up responsible parenting in favor of all day Ninjago and Peppa Pig re-runs. Our 4 suitcases are perfectly packed… or so I think.

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Anisha Hopkinson

Anisha was born to Chilean and Texan parents, first tasted missions in Mexico, fell in love with an Englishman in Africa, and now lives in Indonesia. She journals about cross-cultural life, helping people, and loving Jesus on

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