How to Reduce Four-Plus Years Into a Box, a Suitcase, and a Carry-On in 12 Easy Steps

You’ve got 26 days left in Colombia; here’s what you do:

    1. Rip all bootleg, copied, burned, and otherwise unoriginal CDs to your computer. No need to carry home all that plastic (and the joy of this is rediscovering old tunes and artists who hadn’t crooned from your speakers in a while…some good ol’ Donny Hathaway, anyone?).
  • Give towels and your $50 DVD player to the sweet old lady you live with. Or to the sweet old lady next door. Or to the sweet old lady who cleans the floors at your job. Either way, there’s always a sweet old lady somewhere to give something to. She can get the tube socks, too ($10 a bag at the flea market).
  • Donate Before the Mayflower (681 pages) and The Brazil Reader (544 pages) to some inquisitive English students; they’ll be grateful for the cultural insight and you’ll be grateful for the lightened luggage. If you really need those books again, that’s what is for. Do NOT donate first editions or autographed copies of anything.
  • Give plastic CD and DVD cases to the art teacher who can do something creative with the images; a collage, montage, melange, or some other artsy-fartsy but interesting crap. She can also get the old in-flight magazines and back issues of Men’s Health and Ebony (the Obama issues should get packed in the box, along with the CD carrying case that holds the actual DVDs).
  • Give I’m-too-sexy white crew-neck and V-neck t-shirts to friends at the gym, who are the only people your size in the country anyway; you can always get more at Target. They can have the tubs of Hydroxycut Hardcore, too, especially since the gubment said not to take it.
  • On that note, if it ain’t been worn more than twice in the last four years, there’s somebody else who’ll wear it tomorrow.
  • Give old curriculum circulars and blank grade sheets to your students during final exams to make paper airplanes and turn the classroom into Hartsfield-Jackson.
  • Sell the roller-blades. If you ain’t learnt by nah…
  • Re-write the scribblings on every other page of the six composition books you’ve had for years into one small notebook. Or better yet, throw them shits away. Along with all the peer-edited copies of your thesis fiction project that you’ve kept for the interminably-impending re-write.
  • You might have to make a Sophie’s choice about the porn collection.
  • Get back to me on the shoebox full of ticket stubs, museum guides, mini-maps, boarding passes, and the Cuba Offers You government tourist guide. There has to be some kind of use for all this memorabilia. And you know the Prince poster gets rolled up and packed (stuff some dress socks in that mug to retain the shape, then break out the iron when you get home!).
  • Place regrets, fears, doubts, and other assorted baggage out by the curb.

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This entry was posted in Colombia, Expat Life, getting fly, How To, Moving Overseas, South America and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to How to Reduce Four-Plus Years Into a Box, a Suitcase, and a Carry-On in 12 Easy Steps

  1. 'Drea says:

    Good luck with the paring down of possessions. I’m not going anywhere soon, but I’ve been trying to get rid of clutter. I get so overwhelmed at times that I just put the project on the shelf.I did, however, get rid of the Prince posters. :)Once I was delighted to find hardback copies of Sula, Song of Solomon and Tar Baby in a thrift store. I couldn’t believe that someone would give away such pristine copies of Morrison’s novels. I now have books all over the place, including in several closets and I see what lead that individual to the thrift store.Nice post and good advice.

  2. SDG says:

    Good stuff. Not just for travel, but for life as well. It’s all about the purge and letting go of “baggage.” Love this post.

  3. Jessica says:

    Haha love this post. It’s amazing how much crap one can accumulate no? If and when I move from Rome, I’m going to be screwed. Good luck! I look forward to reading how the transition home and then Brazil goes.

  4. Ali la Loca says:

    Uff, this is gonna be me in just under 4 month’s time! Again. Love the lifestyle but hate the packing, although I do appreciate the obligation to be a minimalist. ;)Thanks for such a great post – I’ll refer back soon enough.The market for used goods and furniture here in Moz is crazy, in particular for slightly higher-end stuff among expats. We sold all of our furniture (bought after our wedding, with the intention of taking it with us in a container until we saw the price!) within 3 days of announcing we are leaving the country.We also had a friend buy all of our books for the equivalent re-purchase price on! It’s crazy…someone already has dibs on literally everything we want to leave behind.So what are we taking, besides the few prized posessions, electronics, etc.? Our paintings. We’ve got quite the collection, and I could never leave them behind.

  5. kwerekwere says:

    wow. i’m having flashbacks of when i moved to senegal. 1) i brought my cds with me, in large part because i didn’t even own a laptop until this move. i’m not particularly enamored with them, even though i need them to work during power outages. some of the cds that i’ve bought… are now on their fourth continent of habitation. eish. most other numbers) craigslist was my friend. most of the big things went on craigslist. i actually sold the things i didn’t think i would be able to sell, and ended up freecycling most of the stuff that’s easy to sell. i look on on person’s page on crackbook, and i see the teevee that i gave her; she was moving from senegal to washington as i was moving from washington to dvd comes with you, vhs does not. i did *not* want to get caught in LSS airport with, erm, capeoira 5, or harem, or harlem homeboys. nuh-uh. [that said, i sure did get most of my stuff on dvd and they went behind a lot of my cds in their case.—–i seriously considered packing up everything and leaving south africa today: my son said he wanted to be a boarder instead of a day student at his high school. he must have seen the near-instant flicker in my eyes of “how long would it take me to sell the house and get out of dodge if he lives in res.” because 20 minutes later, he said that it was a dumb idea. heh.

  6. Fly Brother says:

    Thanks for commenting, folks.Drea: It is impressive what you can find at thrift stores and on random book shelves. I got my latest copy of The Souls of Black Folk for $3 at a small bookstore in Tallahassee. I’m passing this one to a fellow English teacher here in Colombia; my first copy went to an English teacher in Cuba.SDG: Thank you very much for your compliment. Nice profile pic, BTW.Jessica: Why oh why oh WHY would you ever move from that ridiculously photogenic adopted city of yours? Hell, you’re making me want to move there! Will definitely keep you guys posted about the upcoming transitions.A Loca: You got someone to buy your books – well done! I’m having trouble giving mine away, LOL. Unfortunately, the expat population is smaller where I am; I had better luck when I left Bogota. The hardest part for me is getting rid of some in-flight magazines I’ve collected from airlines like Copa, Cubana, TAM, and TAAG. I know I’m a geek, but the articles and photos are phenomenal. I feel you on the artwork!Kwere: LOL @ the porn titles. Craig’s List isn’t very developed in Colombia, and other than my printer and rollerblades, I’ve not much to sell. Isn’t there a way to convince the boy to live on campus, if only for the sake of his dad’s mental health?

  7. This Time Now says:

    Yes, keep travelin’ light my friend!My goal is to travel with only ONE suitcase and one carry on bag plus my laptop. That’s it. I wish that there was a way to freeze dry cocoa butter into a flat ziploc bag….Will NEVER be ashy! Ha!Felicia, This Time Now

  8. zhaleh says:

    my goal is to leave seoul with ONE suitcase. and the prince poster in my office is FA SHO coming with me~

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