Packing

Bring Less. It’s easier.

All other variables go out the window (how many people you’re traveling with, your destination, your vehicle) in the face of this rule.

Simplify the process by bringing less. It’s not just important to be physically lighter, but you want to be as emotionally light as possible. The less you bring, the less you have to worry about.

Letting things go seems scary if you can’t imagine yourself without the furnishings surrounding you as you read this. After all, they’ve been there for the last 20-plus years. But most things can be repurchased or replaced. So minimize.

How to Minimize

Go through your belongings. Sort everything into three piles: Bring, Store, Toss. Take your time with this process. It may take a few rounds to strip down to the essentials.

Be ruthless.

The smaller your vehicle, the better — space limitations force you to leave things behind.

Use the Six Months Guideline

If you haven’t looked at it or used it in six months, Store or (preferably) Toss. This will include a great deal from your college days, so try not to spend too much time reminiscing: posters, shot glasses, etc.

If you’re only keeping it out of sentiment, toss it. If this is really breaking you up inside, take a picture before you do.

Resist the urge to Store everything.
Computer CD’s, music CD’s, if you can’t get it online, save it on your computer, then back up your hard drive. Get rid of hard copies

Start early.

Start small: clean out this drawer, or that book shelf. This part of the desk, those pile of papers, that section of the closet.

Take a short break after 15 minutes. It’s emotional work.

In a month, you’ll eliminate a majority of the inessentials.

Examine your Store and Toss piles: can you donate anything, or sell them on Craigslist or eBay?

Find storage for your Store belongings, like someone’s basement (or rent storage place if you’re desperate.)

Reexamine the bring pile: do you really need it all?

The answer will probably be “no” the first few rounds. Start the process over again.

Sticking Points

Furniture

Don’t get hung up on not having furniture when you arrive. First, moving furniture is time and labor intensive.

Second, who knows if you’ll need it? You might crash with a friend. You may rent a furnished apartment. Or, you can always Craigslist sofas, bed frames, dressers.  The furniture situation will sort itself out.

“When we decided to start for real, I slept on my sister’s floor for 9 months, eating not much more than cereal, plain white bread, and salads… Rent was a few hundred backs, paid for by selling everything I owned in LA, keeping 5 days of clothes and not much else. I bought an air bed but had no table…”
David Horvath

It’s an extreme, but it shows what can be done if you want something bad enough.

CD’s/DVD’s

Get an iPod. If movies are important, subscribe to Netflix. You can ship out your movie collection later.

Books

If you haven’t picked it up in a year, donate it to your local library or give it away. If you can’t bear the thought, box them up or find someone else’s shelf space. Bring only the bare essentials to your work, not something for the coffee table (that you’ll find on Craigslist.)  Bring books that have been dog eared and bookmarked and highlighted – those are the books you’re going to use.

Or buy a Kindle.

Shoes

Shoes are tough. You got trainers, gym sneakers, dress shoes, sandals, boat shoes, athletic cleats, rock climbing shoes, boots… and that’s just the start.I managed to hone it down to four pairs: trainers, sneakers, dress, and sandals.

Clothes

Strip your closet down to the essentials. Also difficult, but try to cut down as much as possible. Again, you can always ship out what you don’t bring later. Click here for a more in-depth look at minimizing your wardrobe.

Sorting through the material things in your life is time consuming, and it’s only the beginning. For a great guide and some motivation, read Leo Babauta’s how to minimize in small steps.

I touch more on the specifics of packing in Packing for the Road. And after the jump, you can check out my Complete Packing List.

Your Network
This is really not the place to talk about networking, so I’ll just touch on it quickly.

It’s a good idea to get a list of people you know (or know someone you know) who’d be happy to get a cup of coffee and talk to you about your new city. Los Angeles can seem very big. It can seem lonely. So having a few people you can reach out to when you arrive is a great idea to help you hit the ground running.

Commit

Create a plan of attack: what are you going to do when you arrive? The obvious two objectives are finding resident and employment, but that won’t take all day.

If you’re an artist – writer, photographer, director, actor, painter – commit to continuing the work on your craft. Twyla Tharp said her body knew when she took a day off from dancing:

“When you walk away from your craft, even for a little while, your skill begins to diminish.”

Stay committed to whatever daily goal you have for producing.

Miscellaneous

Here’s a list of to-do’s before you move:

  • Schedule appointments with all your medical professionals before you leave. If you have health issues, better to find out now than when you’re on your own. This means doctor, dentist, orthodontist, dermatologist, chiropractor, and anyone you see on a yearly basis.
  • Be aware of your financial situation. Rule of thumb is three times your monthly expenses (health insurance, car insurance, rent, gas, cell phone, food, and miscellaneous expenses) but as I mentioned earlier, this reflects your risk tolerance.Some people wouldn’t be comfortable without a minimum of a six-month buffer. And I know people who’ve done it with less than three months.
  • Put your tax documents for the last three years in a folder and bring them with you. Create electronic copies of everything, and then back those up.
  • Online banking has made money management more convenient than ever. Still, transactions can take longer than desired, and/or you may not have access to the web. Give someone you trust access to your bank account, in case you need to move money around quickly: a parent, a good friend, someone easily accessible.
  • Unsubscribe to newsletters or magazines you no longer read.
  • Make someone responsible for your mail, until you’ve notified everyone of your new address.
  • Who are the first three people you’re going to call to get coffee or lunch when you arrive?
  • Make a list of the touristy stuff you want to do. A city’s novelty wears off quickly, so explore it with fresh eyes while you can.
  • Go to your local library. Get a card.
  • Look out for any MeetUps of your interest.
  • Plan to subscribe to the local papers and your trade magazine.
  • Make a list of the “spots” you must uncover: coffee shop, farmer’s market, Asian supermarket, chain grocery store, beach, and pub.
  • Use Craigslist to keep tabs on employment opportunities and on big ticket items – namely, furniture.

Goodbyes

Start saying goodbye. Visit friends and family.

Handwritten goodbye and thank-you notes are always classy, but unfortunately, we don’t find time for them in these run-and-gun, Tweet and gChat days. Making time to do so goes a long way towards obtaining closure before starting your life in a new city.

  • Who’s been particularly influential in your childhood? Think of the teachers, parents of your friends, or coaches.
  • Who gave you rides to soccer games when your parents were unavailable?
  • Who encouraged you?
  • Whose influence made you into who you are today?
  • Who is someone you aspire to be like as you continue to grow and develop?

The very least you owe these people is a note telling them how important they were in your life.

Continue to Post 4: Planning the Road Trip

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Photo Credit: Do8y

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