Moving Internationally?

Moving Internationally? Five Tips

Moving InternationallyAs stressful as a normal move might be, moving internationally is even worse because:

1) Everything has to fit into bags.

2) Those bags are expensive.

3) See 1 and 2.

Plus, there are the late-night fears, including: do they have Crest toothpaste there? (Yes.) Or, will I need my rain boots? (Always.)

With tips on how to pare down your lifestyle from famed minimalist Joshua Fields Millburn, here is my less-headache guide to moving internationally, inspired by my recent move from the Dominican Republic to my hometown of Southampton, New York.

1) Organize

In the digital age, electronics can get mighty confusing, so to bypass the entire issue I have one designated bag for all related equipment. Match all electronics to their appropriate chargers and throw out those pesky extra cords that seem to multiply like bunny rabbits.

Also, designate a folder for all your important documents. That way you ensure that your 2011 tax returns don’t somehow end up in your toiletries bag.

If you have some extra time, try some packing hacks, including stuffing small objects into shoes and rolling T-shirts into cylindrical shapes. However, keep a scale handy and make sure that th0se space-saving tips don’t put your bag into the oversize category. While this is typically 50 pounds, different airlines have different weight limits, so be sure to check online before.
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2) Simplify

Worried all your possessions can’t make the trip? Time to pare down.

“Moving is a great opportunity to edit your belongings,” says Joshua Fields Millburn, one-half of the duo behind the site, The Minimalist, and new book, Everything That Remains. “As a minimalist, everything I own serves a purpose or brings me joy. It is much easier to move.”

3) Books

My Achilles heel, in life and in international moves, is my book collection. I am pretty obsessive. Upon realizing that in Las Terrenas there was one, tiny English-language bookstore and no libraries, I brought 25 books down with me. It was insane.

And while I wish I could say that I have learned my lesson and would never do that again, I can’t lie. So, for those of you who want to do better than me, I would recommend moving with two or three books and then looking for new books upon arrival. This is a great option if you are moving to a larger city, as there might be a cool English-language book store that also serves as a community center to meet people.  The famed Shakespeare & Co. bookstore in Paris comes to mind.

Another option that world-traveler and author, Eliot Peper, recommends is the Kindle Paperwhite. Peper and his fiancé invested in two for their around-the-world-trip and although Peper still prefers real books, he says it was lifesaver when he was living out of a 40 liter backpack for nine months.

Since it is big investment (around $100), I would recommend signing up for a local library ebook network. If you read 10 library books on the Kindle , you have basically made up the price up of the Kindle.

4) Check All Surfaces

Have a final sweep of your home or apartment before leaving. This is a trick for hotels that my mom taught me and it works well for international moves when you might not have the opportunity to return. I am still regretting my magnet collection that I left on a fridge in Beirut, so  make sure you check all surfaces, even unlikely ones.

5) Gifts

If you have been living abroad and are moving home, you should probably bring some gifts. I like to buy gifts for family and friends two weeks before departure, in order to avoid a panicked shopping spree 12 hours before going to the airport. I look for a local product that most people use and buy that in bulk. Jam or honey are great, although they can be tough to pack. Other goods I like are coffee, nut oils, scarves or baskets.