My girlfriend and I have currently gone through the process of moving to the Netherlands from the United States. For those of you who are new to this blog, she is Dutch and this move will be her coming back home after having spent five years in the US. As we’ve found out, you can accumulate a lot of stuff in that time. And she has of course also gotten rid of most of her stuff in the Netherlands. Like most other millennials, we love the idea of moving to another country, but along with it comes the inevitable question— what the fuck are we going to do with all of our shit?
Because this has been something we’ve been actively dealing with over the past few months, Sara (the girlfriend), insisted that I blog about. “We’ve found bits of information scattered around various blogs as well” she said. So like her to think at sharing this information to others to be of some use. She’s so nice is sickening. Love sickening. See what I did there?
I realized immediately that Sara was right. And so here I am to share hopefully useful tips about moving abroad when you’ve lived your whole life somewhere else.
Tip #1: You need to get rid of some shit.
I know that’s not what you wanted to hear. But the truth is, unless your job is paying for you to ship everything, it is just not worth it. Ask yourself, “do you really need that mug shaped like a toilet with “Shit Happens” written on it? You’ve had it since college and now you’re too old for that shit. Again, see what I did there? I’m on a roll today! And if this sounds difficult to you then know that you’re not alone. We also had a hugely difficult time with this.
When Sara and I did our first round of decisions, we did what any normal person would do. Watch Marie Kondo and wait for the joy (or lack thereof). Saar was a champ, she was getting rid of old clothes left, right, and center. I… I had a bit of a harder time with this. Like any good lesbian, I stole her clothes and was left with even more crap than before. For the record, I am **not** materialistic, but I am extremely sentimental and associate basically everything I own with a once-in-a-lifetime memory. “But I bought this shirt when I was in my ’emo-phase’! I haaave to keep it.” No, I didn’t have to. And neither do you. I have to say, the Marie Kondo method was a good start, and honestly, that’s something I can recommend to you if you weren’t a believer. If you do it and don’t tell people about it, no one has to know that you’re part of the trend!
For those of you who find that the whole Marie Kondo thing is just not your cup of tea, I can recommend a couple of other practical ways to help you decide. For clothes, ask yourself, “have I worn it more than once this season?” If the answer is no, it belongs to someone else. Or no one else if your clothes are really old and/or butt-ugly. There’s no shame to just discard what belongs in the trash anyway. Kitchen stuff is another category where you can apply the same trick. If you haven’t used something in three months, you can leave it behind. You can make one or two exceptions; I trust you to use your judgement. BUT, remember, if you don’t use something often enough, you probably don’t know it’s there, and you can’t miss something that wasn’t there in the first place! I did the same with my kitchen things. When I left for Europe, I also left behind plenty of kitchen items. Sara, who was going to move after me, asked me what I missed. As someone who claims to love all of her coffee mugs, I was surprised to respond that I honestly didn’t miss most of them. The only ones I really wanted were the mugs I got on my travels.
Tip #2: Ship the heavy stuff. And use Send My Bag to do it.
Okay, I told you to get rid of some crap, but what about the rest? I don’t know about you, but I personally have shied away from shipping services in the past. I found them to be (i) too complicated and (ii) too expensive. For me, the complicated part was that I was never sure of the part where I’m supposed to buy a box to ship stuff or find the right kind of box. I also didn’t know how much stuff I could fit. And then, if you want them to send you boxes, you have to pay a pretty penny for it. This changed when we came across Send My Bag. And I know what you’re thinking, but no, they are not sponsoring me for this! I just think their service is pretty awesome, and I want you to know about it.
So how does it work? The best part about Send My Bag is that, as the name suggests, you can simply ship your suitcase. As someone who likes to and needs to travel a lot, I do have a fair amount of suitcases of varying sizes. But I wasn’t going to be able to take everything with me, all by myself. I weigh less than 130 pounds and most of that is made up of cheese. To me, this was perfect. Especially because the one thing I did not want to compromise on much were my books. And books are HEAVY AS FUCK. So that’s what I did. I shipped three suitcases full of books (and there were even more books…)
As you can see from the picture, these don’t even have to be fancy suitcases. These are my old bags that I honestly don’t use very often anymore.
Send My Bag can ship 66 pounds from the US to the Netherlands for $145 a bag. There were cheaper services, but given the amount of weight we could ship with Send My Bag, we decided to go with this option. Economically, if you consider the weight to price ratio, it’s a pretty good deal. And to top it off, the service is extremely easy to use. Of course, if you don’t have suitcases to ship, you can also ship a box as long as it meets their requirements.
Tip#3: Paying for more suitcases is cheaper than shipping. Always. Hands down.
This point is so important that I wanted to call it out as a separate tip. Although shipping the heavy stuff is extremely useful, you do want to avoid shipping if you want to save some $$ on the move. Let’s do some quick math here. Even considering the fact that most airlines don’t include a free bag with your humble-folk (economy class) ticket anymore, adding a bag will cost you $100-$120 bucks at most. If you do it online before you fly, you’ll pay $80 or less. So even though you’ll have to lug your bags with you, this option will only cost you $80 to bring along 50 pounds of your things. Even though there are some reasonable shipping options, adding bags to your flight is by far the cheapest option.
Bonus tip, some airlines offer two types of economy tickets, one is more expensive than the other. Often, the more expensive ticket will include a bag (among other add-ons, like picking a seat). Usually the price difference is that of adding on one bag or it can even be less. And then on top of that, you get the additional benefits of a more expensive ticket. You’re welcome.