Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Student Nomad Tips: Packing Like a Champ

Of the many things I thought I'd learn in college, I never thought that being able to pack up months of my life in a compact car would be one of them. For as long as I can remember I've been totally fascinated with playing "house", so coming to college was a great chance to deck out a dorm room or apartment with fun furniture, artwork, and who knows what else. What I didn't realize during these daydreams about that really awesome apartment was that if I wanted to have lots of stuff, I had to pick it up and shove it up stairs, through doorways and end up dropping it on myself or the unsuspecting people I asked to help me move. Now that I've thoroughly dented every wall in town along with my fingers, toes, shins, etc. I've begun to learn the beauty of minimizing and prioritizing. It is from these two points that I begin my tutorial on how to pack like a true champion student nomad.

The first step to packing like a student nomad is to prioritize like one. Like with any engineering problem, you have constraints and variables. In this case, the amount of space you have available to move all of your stuff is a constraint. This may be as little as a few suitcases for airline travelers or as much as a large vehicle or moving truck for others. It is important to realize your boundaries. Yes, you need room to see out your back window and move around during driving. If bags are falling on you when you turn, please re-think your packing strategy. In this case, what you choose to take along is your variable.

Here a few things you may want to think about always packing:
  • Emergency Kit: Include flashlight, water, blanket, jumper cables, First Aid Kit etc. If anything goes wrong, it's better that you are prepared.
  • Cell Phone Charger: Pretty self-explanatory. Dead phone = no help.
  • Directions/Contact Information for your destination(s).
  • Anything you will not be able to get where you are going or things that you would have a lot of difficult getting. For example, in parts of Europe, certain cold medications that are Over-the-Counter in the U.S. require a prescription. Do your research if you're moving somewhere where your everyday essentials may not be available. Figure out a way to bring them with you, or consider adapting.
  • A good luck charm. Why not? Keep it small and avoid perishables.

Another aspect of prioritizing is dividing things up by what you definitely need and what you may need. You would be surprised how much you could eliminate from packing for relocation by taking away the things you may need. Besides keeping around toiletries you will use en route to your new destination, you do not really need any additional toiletries. For an avid hair product consumer such as myself, leaving behind a slough of toiletries could save me space in an entire tote bag. You can carry over this mentality to other items. If you are really strapped for space, only take the bare essentials. If you can buy new things when you arrive at your new location, this will save you plenty of space that can be used for the items you will definitely need...like clothes, essential electronics, and you handy dandy good luck charm.

The second step to student nomad packing success is to minimize. Once you figure out the things that you absolutely need to relocate, condense them. Instead of taking five photo albums of your family/friends/dog, set your screen saver to scan through your pictures and call it a day. This step is really about tapping into your inner laziness. If you really don't want to move that big, pointy object hundreds of miles only to drop it on yourself and require your first aid kit, don't bring it. Your back with thank you.

Helpful Small Car Tip: If your car is small with oddly shaped places to pack your stuff in (small trunk, back seats, etc.) consider packing things like clothes in duffel bags or trash bags since they conform to the space they are being packed into. While putting everything into boxes seems logical, it could actual waste a whole lot of space.

Beyond the slightly obvious hints and tips for living minimally in order to make moving easier, one of the best things to keep in mind while relocating is to have an open mind. There's a solid chance that you're not going to fall in love with your new location immediately. If you do, you are one lucky person and I sincerely hope that you continue to enjoy your new environment. For anyone who has not relocated on their own before, be prepared for some culture shock. It's important to recognize that it usually takes 2-4 weeks to really start adjusting to a new environment. Try not to write off your new location right away just because it doesn't feel quite right. Sometimes the differences in a new location are the things you will miss most when you leave to return home.

If you have any more questions about relocation, please feel free to send them to be at SpartanJobSeeker@gmail.com.

Good Luck!

-Eva McSpartan

1 comment:

  1. Another great packing tip is putting your clothes/towels/pillows in Space Bags. They really do work miracles and worth the $20.