Fitting my life into a suitcase- part 1

This is the first in a series of posts sharing how I have consolidated my belongings to fit into a suitcase and carry-on bag to move overseas. If you’re just starting to simplify all your belongings in preparation for a big move, or even if you’re channelling your inner minimalist, this series will show you the little steps I have taken to consolidate everything over time.

The initial thought of fitting my life into a suitcase and carry-on bag induced some serious anxiety. But that quickly turned to gratitude because this whole process has made me realise how I love to spend my time and what things I need to make that happen in a new country. Spoiler alert, you don't need as many things as you think you need.

I was keen to get started so I began the mammoth task at hand around 10 months out. While this might seem like a long lead time, I wanted to give myself plenty of time to gradually minimise all the things I have accumulated. I’ve enjoyed working at this over time, spending an hour or two each week, if needed, to take stock of everything in my wardrobes and see what could be sold, re-purposed or donated each time.

Sometimes I could fill a couple of bags at once and at other times I wouldn’t get rid of a thing. If I wasn’t sure about items, they would go into a maybe pile and be stored in a cupboard until my next round of minimising. If I hadn’t missed or needed the maybe pile items until the next time I was getting rid of things, then it went too. I kept the process as simple and manageable as possible to stay consistent in working towards my goal of fitting everything between a suitcase and carry-on bag.

Clothes

If it didn’t fit, hadn’t been worn in the past 12 months or didn’t make me feel my best, it was time to go. No more keeping clothes because they will fit much better once I’ve started going to gym more, or because it’ll be perfect if we get invited to a fancy dress party soon. 

In order not to overwhelm myself too much in the process I focused on one area of my wardrobe at a time. The first focus was all those gorgeous corporate work outfits I had bought thinking they might look good for a formal meeting or a special presentation.

But the truth is, business attire in Queensland is not overly formal and special presentation type situations at work were sporadic for me. Did I really need eight uncomfortably tailored cap sleeve corporate dresses? No.

I found inspiration from being honest about how the bulk of my work days were spent—working at a desk and the occasional client meeting—compared to how I envisioned my work days in Toronto, in a more creative environment with a casual culture. I carefully picked a couple of my more formal corporate outfits for my current job and sold or donated the remaining items. I was feeling more conviction in myself already, and excited about the additional travel funds selling my clothes would generate.

Selling

I listed barely worn work dresses, skirts and jackets on Gumtree and Ebay. After a few weeks of listing items I quickly realised corporate attire sells much quicker on Ebay than on Gumtree, at least my things did anyway. Although you have to deal with the annoying seller fees and PayPal fees (if that’s your preferred payment method) on Ebay, the quick sales and new found space in my wardrobe was worth it.

For each listing, I took two to three photos of each item on a hanger and hung it from a photo hook on a wall at home. I listed the item’s brand, size and barely worn (when applicable) in the heading to attract suitable buyers from the outset.

In the item’s description, I included some short text describing things like the position of zippers, colour, number of times worn, my height and where the hem line finished (particularly important for workwear). I made sure the item descriptions answered any questions I would have if I were purchasing pre-loved workwear to save time for myself and buyers.

The result

After about two months I whittled down my workwear to what I feel most comfortable and productive in — my favourite few pairs of pants, some blouses, a formal jacket and formal skirt. I felt so productive knowing I was now going to wear all my work clothes because they were items that made me feel great and worked with my everyday schedule.

Next in this series I’ll share how I have tackled the rest of my wardrobe and the random items that I’ve accumulated over the years, my practice packing adventures and how I eventually packed for travel across multiple seasons and an overseas move.