How to Pack for an Indefinite Move

When I decided to move to Colombia in 2014, I knew it was extremely temporary. I did not make do a great job packing, storing and planning for what I needed to bring. When I got back, I had lost a box full of my most valuable books. I was gutted. Since I have no plans to relocate back to the United States anytime soon, I wanted to be extremely organized for this move to ensure I don’t lose anything else. Here are some steps I took to make my move to Spain smoother.  


  1. Make a purge plan – This is probably the first thing you need to do when you decide to go abroad. Make a list of everything you own and put it into the following categories: take, store, donate and give to friends (like my makeup above). When it came to things I was donating – I didn’t necessarily have a list but rather just listed “everything else” in that category. It was so helpful to have a relatively detailed list to reference and make deadlines. I knew not only exactly where each item was going but also when I would be getting rid of it. This allowed me to live in a pretty tidy space until about two weeks before I moved. 
  2. Decide the things you need to keep in your home country. I knew I needed to keep a number of things like tax documentation, scrapbooks, mementos from friends and family and very importantly all my classic Nintendos. These things were categorically irreplaceable to me and I really wanted to keep them one way or another. Eventually, most of these will be things that I will relocate to Europe as I have a more permanent position.
  3. Decide where you are going to store things being left behind. Whether this is in a dedicated storage unit or  your parents’ basement – have a plan. I also recommend investing in some water resistant totes in case there’s unexpected damage. I have two boxes at my grandma’s, one at a friend’s and my firesafe is at my sister’s house. I spread it out to not burden any one party too much. If you have someone who offers with open arms – take them at their word but don’t plan to leave things with them forever.
  4. Document everything you have in storage – I have a Google Document that has a list of everything I own in America and its location, description and which numbered box it’s in. If I decide I want to bring some things back to Europe during my next trip, I’ll be able to plan ahead.7516783456_IMG_0416
  5. What things can’t you live without which you wouldn’t traditionally board a transatlantic flight with. Listen. Don’t judge me. I wanted to bring my pillow with me as well as my favorite twin sized blanket. I am so glad every day I did this. They help my quality of life pretty significantly every day. With the help of those vacuum bags – the blanket and pillow shrunk down and were barely an inconvenience.  Also – I wanted to bring a good amount of my planner supplies with me. Sure – all of this took space but I felt strongly about bringing it. If you feel like there are things that are going to make your move, transition or quality of life better – bring them – especially if they are irreplaceable. 7516783456_IMG_0418
  6. When packing clothes – bring the stuff that is practical but also might be difficult to replace. Generally speaking, I’m either in jeans mode or dress mode. I brought most of my dresses as they are both practical for work and difficult to replace. I hate shopping so I wanted to have enough work clothes to not have to shop anytime soon. Little did I know that most Spanish teachers wear jeans to work daily. I do wish I brought more than two pairs of jeans – something about shreaded or skinny denim doesn’t scream professional to me. 7516783456_IMG_0419
  7. Get real about shoes. I looked at the climate I was moving to and then made some decisions. I brought two pairs of ankle boots (brown and black), one pair of heels (black – practical and easy to wear out dancing), a couple pairs of flat sandals and a pair of converse. Already this was HEAVY. I can’t imagine bringing any more. You can live without seven impractical, bulky pairs of shoes.

Ultimately, there is more or less nothing that I feel I should have brought with me and didn’t. I have everything I needed to be comfortable and happy but did enjoy putting together a few IKEA and Tiger shopping trips to make my house a home. What’s one weird thing you couldn’t live without? Tell me below.

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