How to Fit 5 Years of Your Life Into a Suitcase

I recently moved from my beloved home in France. After 5 long glorious years living as an expat, everything came to a standstill then it all came crashing down.

I had the daunting task of packing up my life and putting it in a suitcase…

This is by no means a simple task. The psychological effect of deciding to pack up and leave a place where you called home after 5 years is impactful. Even if you are excited for your next move.

So how does one fit 5 years of life into a (tiny) 20kg suitcase you may ask?

Throw it all away. Everything.


And prepare for disaster.

To top it off, I – Collector of ALL things – decided that I would eschew my option of TWO checked bags for just one. I dunno what came over me.

My dear friend, who flew over from Germany to hang out and say goodbye (#aaawww), asked if I was on some kinda “spiritual minimalism” with this “one suitcase” mantra that I was chanting the week before I left. He sat in awe confusion and wondered “wat di ass” was going on with me. I am pretty sure he decided at that very moment that I was officially the craziest. He was kind, though, as he attempted to offer me advice on the best packing strategy he used for when he’s moving to a new country. I was not having it.

I did listen to his suggestion to go have ice cream though! ©2013, Diedre McLeod

Mostly he listened and helped me sort through my belongings and emotions. Because who was I kidding? Leaving was as stressful as packing.

I embraced Minimalism and chugged along.

With that mantra, I made FOUR trips to the Charity Relais to fill up an entire charity drop-off box of clothes. I threw out 5 garbage bags of more clothes. And I enlisted the help of my waaaaay more organised friend to help me de-clutter.

travelwanderwish-the room exhibit-paris-france
Posing with award winning John Thackwray in Paris for his photography exhibition “My Room Project”, showcasing how people all across the world live, from the view of their bedrooms.

And with all of that, I STILL left an almost fully furnished apartment for the next renter.

Oy vey!

But seriously, I learnt a few things about travelling and prioritising from this packing nightmare adventure:

  1. You don’t need so much stuff.
    Really, you don’t.
    Let me be the first to say that I love my stuff. But I realised that all of it is just Noise. Do I really need a second pair of black shoes? Or a third blazer? Or the myriad of tops I almost never wear? No, I don’t. And you don’t either.
    After finally fitting everything into 2 suitcases, it was lightweight and freeing. Plus it leaves more space to buy more stuff. Kidding!

  2. Moving is so easy now!
    Packing and unpacking is now a 1 hour affair *tee-hee* Need I say more?

  3. The Experience is what really matters.
    Your memories (and a few pictures), special events, friendships formed and how they have all changed you are what really counts towards your happiness and well-being. This is all you need to fit in your suitcase.



So forget all the baggage and extra stuff…throw it all away!

Tell me, are you a “throw it all away” type of person? Or are you more likely to overpack?




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