Moving abroad is an enriching and exciting experience: beautiful places to explore, interesting people to meet and a new community to become part of. But getting everything sorted before you make that leap of faith can be stressful and daunting.
When we moved 600 miles from Manchester to Berlin we chose to take hand luggage only. Now this option isn’t for everyone, if you need to take your Chesterfield sofa and waterbed across the ocean then this isn’t for you (obviously). Our new apartment was furnished and we had no idea how long we were going to be in our new home for, so this was an efficient and cost effective way of doing things. Your items travel with you and are instantly to hand. Packing this way also gives you the chance to minimise, breaking free of your unnecessary belongings and start a fresh. If you have family or friends with storage space willing to keep hold of some things for you then this is also a good option.
I’ve put this guide together to answer your questions on packing for the big move and taking check-in luggage only.Before You Get Stuck In
- Check the maximum baggage allowance that your airline will allow. Usually it’s two pieces per person. You can check up to three on easyJet. Personally I checked in three cases, my fiancé checked in two
- Call your a landlord ahead to see what is actually available in the rental, for example, do you need an iron or will there be one waiting? I didn’t do this and mourned the loss of that space in my case!
Minimise The Junk In Your Trunk
- Save yourself the stress of a mammoth task and start early so you can do one bit at a time. Begin with the items or rooms that you use the least. For example the spare room or trinket shelves. Leave the cleaning cupboard till last as that’s usually the last task on the list
- Be selective. This is your chance to start afresh and take only your favourite necessities with you. Enjoy the process. There is something quite wonderful about liberating yourself from the items that are no longer useful that you have amassed over the years
- Ask yourself: ‘Have I used or worn this item in the last two years?’, ‘Is it useful to me?’ If the answer is no then get rid and don’t look back
- Sell any unwanted items, Facebook and eBay were best for us. You could even host a clothes swap party, see my guide to hosting one here
- Donate items that are in a good condition. I took three carloads to the charity shop in my clear out!
- Your cases are likely be full to the brim so don’t go filling it with liquids and toiletries that could burst all over your belongings. Unused beauty products and toiletries that you don’t want can go to a local women’s shelter or homeless charity
Packing Your Cases
- Pack a weekends worth of essentials in one case so you don’t need to undo all of your hard work on the first night hunting for your toothbrush
- Spread your clothes across cases, after all if one case goes missing you don’t want to be left with 20 jumpers and no shoes
- Vac pack is your friend, believe me you’ll thank me for it when you see that faux-fur coat that just wouldn’t fit shrink to the size of a sheet of paper
- Utilise all pockets on the case including external
- Most importantly: weigh it, weigh it, weigh it! Moving abroad can be stressful and the last thing you want is a fine for your luggage being overweight. Pop it on the scales to put your mind at ease
- Add address labels to your luggage and always put a second one, with details of your flight and destination, inside- just in case
- Tie bows or markers onto cases to make them recognisable on the conveyor belt
- Pop your laptops and precious items in your hand luggage
- An unlocked suitcase could invalidate your insurance so be sure to lock everything
Things That Just Won’t Fit
- Pack a bag full of luxuries that you won’t need for a while (such as next seasons things, or decorative items) and leave it with a friend or family to bring when they visit. It’s so exciting to unpack this a few months down the line, it’s like getting a case full of gifts
- Pack any things that you want to keep but don’t have room with care. Label the boxes with a list of contents then take a photo of it to store on your phone. That way you can always ask friends to go to a specific box and get an item for you when needed
On The Day Of Your Flight
- Give yourself plenty of time and don’t check in late: even if you make it on to the flight, your luggage might not be as lucky
- Relax and enjoy the flight, this is the beginning of a wonderful adventure that you will remember for the rest of your lives!