Where Am I (Going)?

How To Pack Like A Boss

September 11, 2014

So, I’m moving to Madrid in two days. And all I’m bringing with me are my carry on and my personal bag. (What you see in the picture above.)
That’s right, I’m not checking any bags.

When I moved to DC from Florida, it was the same. Nothing but a carry on and a canvas bag. So I’m pretty much an expert in this by now. My level of packing: superior.

How is this possible, you ask? How can you start over in a new country without bringing your entire life? Where are all your clothes? Are you just going to walk around naked? I mean, I know it’s Europe, but isn’t that still illegal?

I have clothes, don’t worry. No one in Madrid is going to see my naked butt on the street (at least not yet.)
Want to know how to pack like a boss? Well, just remember these two tips.

1. Be a low maintenance, clutter-free person.

Ok, so not everyone can be low maintenance, but it does help when it comes to packing. See, I don’t put much emphasis into things like clothes, shoes, hair, and makeup. I do often get complimented on my outfits and my hair, so it’s not like being low maintenance means you have to look like a slob every day. It just means you can look decent without doing the most.

Consequently, I don’t have a lot of clothes, so it wasn’t hard for me to narrow down what I wanted to bring, and what I wanted to give away. I don’t wear makeup (putting creamy colored stuff on my face is such a weird concept to me), so I don’t have to worry about filling my carry on with that crap. As for my hair, I keep it shaved and just wear a wig whenever I leave the house (if I feel like it), because laziness. So I won’t be bringing a ton of creams and oils from the beauty store. As for shoes, I think heels are the devil and I hope that they are banned one day, so I don’t wear them. They take up so much space in your suitcase anyway. Flats only for me, and I’m only bringing two pairs.

Besides that, I’ve never liked clutter, so I don’t buy a lot of things, so in general I don’t have a lot of things. This made it pretty easy to get rid of what I don’t need.

So if you’re not a low maintenance person, think like someone who is, at least when you’re packing. Do you really need all that stuff? Are your lungs going to stop working if you don’t bring that pair of shoes or that book?

2. No, you don’t need all that stuff.

You really don’t. Your destination, whether it’s Spain or elsewhere, probably has stores. At said stores, you can probably buy those things that you left behind. (Or not, because again, do you really need them?) Also, the local style of dress might be different from how you dress back home, so you may want to buy new clothes anyway, just to fit in. I’ve heard about expats regretting bringing too many clothes they have brought from home.

Although, buying the things you left behind can get expensive, and it may not be within your budget. In that case, you have to make decisions about what you can afford to leave behind. So if a good pair of boots in your size will be difficult or expensive to get in your new country, perhaps you want to bring the one you have from home. But things like t-shirts? You can find those anywhere, so don’t pack 30 of them in your suitcase.

So, get rid of your stuff. Decide what you want to bring, and then reduce that by 75%, and then cut that in half. Donate it, sell it, recycle it, send it through a portal to another dimension, whatever you must do. Trust me, you will be fine. It will be ok. They’re just things. We as humans put *so* much value in objects, when there are so many other important parts of life. You’ll survive without it, whatever that thing is that you want to bring but don’t really need. You’re moving abroad! You’re going on an exciting adventure and you will have lots of amazing experiences! Do you think it will make a difference if you don’t bring that extra pair of jeans?


If you want more info on exactly what you should and shouldn’t pack (for Auxiliares), here are some good blog posts. They’re very helpful, especially if you want to know more about things that are either difficult to find in Spain, or overpriced, like good deodorant, baking products, and makeup (if you’re into that whole slathering colored goo on your face thing.) Even though I’m not bringing much, I still made sure to bring some essentials mentioned in these blog posts.

Key Tips for Auxiliares-Packing In Spain, Young Adventuress
Packing 101, La Vida Loca
The Do’s and Don’ts of Packing, Wander The Land
Pack This, Not That (Spain Edition), A Thing For Words
Spain Packing List and Packing Tips, Travels Untranslated

Bottom line, it’s just stuff, and you’ll be ok without most of it. Only bring the things you really need, and you’ll be set.

Have you ever moved to another place or country with just a carry on and a personal bag? Is this something that would never be possible for you? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Reply Mike of Mapless Mike September 13, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Great post! I’ll be teaching in Spain this next year as well and will not be overpacking. I leave on Monday, so while I don’t have a lot of stuff to bring, I have some decisions to make about what stays and what goes. Hav a safe trip to Spain!

  • Reply Keziyah September 14, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks Mike. Good luck with packing!

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