I little while back I was emailed and asked if I accepted guest posts.
I was super flattered, and said yes, depending on what the post would be about…
Now as many of you know we have moved house recently, and since getting the keys, we haven’t stopped ‘sorting things out’. Also I got some awful cold / flu bug, a week after getting the keys, more on all of that later…. (Anyway nasty bugs are great for weight loss, but not so great for getting anything done!)
Anyway given that five or so years ago we upped sticks and moved to Malta, only to find ourselves moving a year and a half later, I really wish I had a) had an article like this to read, and b) had just sat down long enough to really think things through. Fingers crossed this piece will save a few people quite a bit of stress. There are some great pointers in there!
5 Tips for Packing When Moving Abroad
Packing is hard, and packing to move to a foreign country is especially difficult: not only do you have to think about packing up all your things, but you have to think about doing so in such a way that you minimize the amount of space you take up. You’ll only be allowed to bring so much luggage on a flight—even if you pay extra, most airlines won’t let you take more than a few suitcases with you—and international shipping can be costly. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re packing your things:
- Downsize, Downsize, Downsize
If you burden yourself with everything you own, you’re going to find yourself incredibly frustrated and/or paying exorbitant moving fees. But moving abroad can be the perfect time to redo your wardrobe or redo your home décor—rather than bringing everything abroad with you, think about selling or giving away things with less sentimental value, like clothes, and replacing them abroad. In fact, you might even end up with a better wardrobe for your new climate if you do this—your jeans may be well-loved, but you’ll be much more comfortable in thin cotton trousers in a humid, tropical climate, for example.
The thing is, you’re likely to acquire new things while living abroad anyway, even if you don’t intend to—and not just souvenirs either! The more stuff you bring with you now, the more stuff you’re going to eventually end up having.
- Think About the Type of Overseas Life You’ll Be Living
I can’t stress this point enough—what you’ll be doing overseas is going to determine how much stuff you bring with you. If you plan on moving around a lot, living in one place for a year or less at a time, you probably don’t want to bring tons of things with you. If you do this, you’re going to have to pack up all that stuff over and over again, move after move, and you’re going to be paying through the nose for shipping fees every time. Plus, have you ever tried to get through immigration checks, including security screenings, with three large suitcases and a backpack? Not fun at all.
Even if you’re planning on staying in one place long-term, you should still think carefully about the type of move you’re making—maybe you’ll be downsizing from a house in the suburbs to an apartment in the city, or maybe you’re moving abroad for a relationship and will be moving in with someone. If so, you’re likely not going to be able to fit all of your things from a house into an apartment without it looking totally cluttered, or you’re probably not going to be able to make all of your possessions mesh with those of your significant other.
- Not Everything Has to Go Now
Even the things that you want to hang on to don’t all need to go with you—at least, not at first. If you’re not planning on moving abroad permanently, it might make more sense to leave some personal mementos behind in storage for now. If you plan to come home to visit, you could leave some stuff behind now and take it with you in your airline luggage allowance on the next trip over, or have friends or family bring some things over for you when they come to visit your new place.
- Figure Out How You Want to Pack Before You Start
This can be a handy trick if you’re afraid of over packing—if you limit the amount of space you can pack into, you won’t be able to bring more than you wish to carry. Now, this can make for a very frustrating time packing since you’ll nearly always get to the end and have that just one more thing problem. However, it can also help you figure out what things you’re willing to let go of to downsize.
When you’re packing your things, you will probably want to roll up your clothes to minimize the amount of space they take up, and you might want to look into buying some airtight, vacuum-sealed bags (or use large Ziplock bags!) to really fit the most stuff into your bags that you can. Also think about ways of fitting things into all available spaces, like stuffing socks or underwear into your shoes.
- Make a Technology Checklist
Even if you’re not the list-making type of person, you might find it useful to make a list for your technology. You’ll want to make sure you research outlet adaptors and voltage converters, and it might be easier for you to grab these prior to your move, while you’re still on familiar territory at home. And you’ll want to make sure you’ve got all the necessary components for your things—devices, chargers, SD cards, external hard drives, etc.
Remember that you’ll probably want to pack your computer and other devices into your carry-on luggage, both for protection and for use along the way—no one wants to be stuck in an airport without the ability to stream Netflix! (Note that to stream shows from outside the US, you may need to set up a VPN first.) Also, if your baggage gets lost en-route, you’ll want to make sure you have your most valuable things still with you.
Although packing up your whole life to move abroad can be daunting—especially if you’re already nervous about it—but it really doesn’t need to be. You’re likely to be able to find most of the amenities from home in your new place, and if you can’t find those things, you may come to realize you don’t actually need them anyway. If you’re still worried, you might try looking at expat sites online and seeing what people miss from their old countries. But know that you’ll probably have no trouble finding the things you need to survive. You may even find many things you like better!
(I’ll put the link up for the blogger when her site comes back online.)