Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tip #1 - Tote Bags

This tip applies to solo road tripping as well, now that I think about it, as a way to keep the car organized.

My first tip for women (or anyone!) who want to re-invent themselves by making a long-distance move on their own* is to bring a lot of tote bags. This is a good tip for busy people in general, I guess, but I've found it especially useful of late.

Even if you don't bring a lot of stuff with you, you'll accumulate stuff. You'll find that it's hard to live out of suitcases, without furniture, with a mattress on the floor, and without basics that you either forgot or felt you didn't need or thought you could just buy when you got there...but then once you got there, didn't want to buy all at once because holy crap is moving expensive!

Furniture, especially things with drawers, helps keep you organized. But it's expensive! It's large and difficult to move! When you first get there (wherever There is), you might be in a temporary apartment. You don't want to buy furniture that you'll have to move again!

Unless your suitcases are better than mine and have lots of little compartments, living out of a suitcase is not sustainable in the long term. It will make you batty. At least, it made me batty.

It did not have separate compartments for undergarments, socks, and other clothing. I could only layer things. And you know what, some mornings, sorting through each layer trying to find underwear, pants/skirt, a matching top, and socks is absolutely maddening. Because to get to what you want, you have to sort through each little layer after layer. If you're in a hurry, you'll end up removing things from the suitcase not so carefully. Then you'll have a mess and you'll never find that underwear easily again.

Use #1 for Tote Bags - Organize the stuff you already have.

Why can't I just use plastic grocery bags? you may say. After all, they are free!

Because they flop over. Tote bags stand up.

Another benefit of tote bags is that they are open at the top, enabling you to see inside them and know just what you have.

Use #2 for Tote Bags - Hide your mess.

While you don't have a lot of furniture and places to store things, you may find that your stuff ends up in massive, crazy piles. And then you want to have someone over to visit. Or just you want to have clear floor space so you can THINK (or walk.)
It's good to have a few free tote bags to just throw everything in. A tote bag for Miscellaneous or Etc. or To Be Sorted Later. Sometimes you just don't have time to sort and put everything away! It's okay! You're too busy working at your new job to earn money for furniture, going on blind dates or to Meetups to make friends, or exploring your new place, or going to cafes to work on your novel/resume. That's what you should be doing, not spending your whole life organizing your stuff.

Use #3 - Similar to #1 and #2, with a touch of drama.

If you ever have to move out of a place in a hurry, because it feels unsafe or you're not on a legal lease or BOTH of these things, you can throw all your stuff in tote bags like #2. And then when you're unpacking, trying to sort through this chaotic mess of stuff, the tote bags can be used to sort things, since you don't have time to put everything away all at once.
You are busy looking for work, going to Meetups and making friends, going on blind dates, going to cafes to work on your novel/resume, or exploring your new neighborhood. You don't have time to spend the one sunny day this week** unpacking and putting away everything you own. And you don't have to!

You can have a tote bag reserved for out-of-season clothing (to be put away later.) You have a tote bag reserved for in-season clothing (to be hung up later.) You can have a tote bag reserved for craft project supplies, for Things that Go in the Bathroom When I Have Time to Go in There and Arrange Things Nicely, for Things that Go in the Kitchen, for Things that Go Back in the Car, and for Things I Don't Know What to do With Yet (aka Etc/Miscellaneous/To Be Sorted Later.)

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Another good thing to have is Decorative Fabric. This can be one of those wall hanging/couch cover pieces of hippie fabric from the college decor section of a store, a tablecloth, a lovely blanket, or just a random piece of fabric. You can stack your tote bags, boxes, or just piles of crap, and cover them with "decorative fabric." That is a good way to hide mess when guests come over. They don't even look at it, unless you say to them, "Don't look under that decorative fabric!" And why would anyone say that? Because I have a big mouth and a faulty inner censor.

* Boy, I need to find a way to shorten this!
** Which may be the last sunny day in Portland until June!

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