How to pack (and live out of) a suitcase during a move

Carolyn, a reader of The Lovely Side and the blogger behind her own blog At Least I Will, commented on my recent post Top 10 Must-Haves for Packing with an ingenious packing/moving tip.

"I would also add to this list a suitcase/overnight bag for all the essentials you need the day/night you move in. No one should be tortured with trying to find toilet paper, contact solution, and pajamas after a long day of moving." - Carolyn, At Least I Will

I've mentioned creating a handy box for anything you might need quick access to – leaving this box open for the duration of your packing, sealing it up last, and opening it first in the new place. Carolyn's idea takes this a step further. I'll be adapting her idea for my packing process and taking it a step further to get me by in the weeks up until my move and the days shortly after.

A quick note before I begin: This suitcase idea is strictly for what you need to get dressed, get ready, and get around in general. You might want a basic leave-open, seal-later box for other items you'll need handy first in the new place (a couple sets of silverware, a few plates, some plastic cups, etc.). 

Here's what to do:

1. Grab Your Suitcase or Overnight Bag
Leave this somewhere easily accessible. Based on what you're going to fill it with, your bedroom or bathroom would be ideal.

2. Narrow Down Your Must-Have Essentials
These will be different for everyone, but they are your absolute essentials. Contact solution, contacts case, glasses, a basic bar of soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, any medications, a comb, and a roll of toilet paper. Try to condense anything you can – like a cheap shampoo/conditioner 2-in-1 to get you by, and a simple bar of soap rather than a bunch of bathing products.

3. Selectively Choose Some Luxury Items
Now, pick some things that you'd rather not get by with – but only one of each. A hair styling product, dry shampoo, razor, body wash and loofah (the body wash can double as shaving cream), body lotion, and your absolute bare minimum of makeup. Pick out a daily look you can accomplish with the least cosmetics: a foundation, a blush and brush, a shadow crayon/liner, a tube of mascara, and a goes-with-everything lip color. One of each. Nothing more. You'll thank yourself later.

4. Pick Out Your Outfits for One Week
No matter how far out your move is, if you're preparing now you should do this now. Pick out clothing that will get you by for 7 days. First, pick out enough underwear and two bars (one sport, one everyday). Next, choose two pairs of shoes (one for work, one for weekends). Throw in one pair of pajamas. Then, select a work wardrobe: two pairs of pants, five business casual tops, and a versatile cardigan or jacket. Then, select a weekend wardrobe: one pair of jeans, three different types of comfy tops. (For me, it'd be a chambray top, t-shirt, and hoodie.) You can re-wear the pants and jeans several times before washing. The rest of the stuff can be washed on the weekends as needed. Optional: You can add in a few pieces of jewelry or a couple accessories like scarves, but don't go overboard. Also, depending on where you live and what season it is, include a coat. Just be reasonable.

5. Pack Everything Else – Yes, Everything
In theory, you'd be able to live out of this suitcase during the weeks up to your move. Pack the rest of your hair products, bath and body supplies, and makeup. Pack the rest of your clothes and shoes. It's about living with the bare minimum until your move so that you can pack as much as possible and have all your essentials in one place should you need easy access to them.

Obviously this may vary from person to person. But try to stay as minimal as possible. It'll make your move easier in the long run.

I'm going to start packing my "moving suitcase" tonight. Have a lovely evening!

P.S. Check out Carolyn's corresponding post The Ten Rules of Having Your Friends Help You Move

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