Aug 26, 2009

The woes of improper packing

I've relocated several times in my life. Many things have varied from move to move: the impetus for leaving a dwelling, travel method and duration, and desired final location for these upheavals. Two things have not. One - my current home was always way dustier than I had previously believed. Two - as mentioned above, I always had a final destination. Sure, sometimes it took me a while to get there. I often planned a trip between abodes. But there was always an intention to end up somewhere for some extended length of time. Knowing this made packing a little easier.

Take, for instance, when I went to Whitehorse for the summer. I fully intended on spending three or four months there, then picking somewhere in Canada to move for the winter. With this information I was able to pack what was needed for up North (mainly clothes and books and my laptop), and leave the rest of my belongings in my dad's garage, to be transfered to my new location on a future date.

I think most people move like this, and approach packing in the same way. We categorize our belongings by room, with sub-categories for item types. Our boxes read Living Room - Books, Kitchen - Pots & Pans, Bedroom - Pictures. Then, towards the end, it falls apart a bit as we end up with random items that were forgotten or can't be easily categorized. So we have several boxes that either try to explain the content (Hammer, Chili Lights, Mittens & Waffle Iron) or just say Misc.

This system works really well when your intent is to move into a new home. But if you don't have any plans to do so, if you're trying to avoid settling and are spending your time couch surfing and house sitting and flitting around like a lazy prat with your tidily packed belongings sitting in storage, then this system really sucks.

Because I want things. Random things that I didn't need in Ecuador, so into a box they went. But now I'm back and unemployed with lots of time on my hands, and I want my stuff. The good stuff. But of course, it's spread out over a million boxes in my cramped storage unit.

I suppose the good thing in this situation is that, being unemployed, I can't say I don't have time to root through the damn thing to retrieve my beloved crap. This is exactly what I did the other day. It took a few hours and more stubbed toes (note to self, do not wear sandals when hauling boxes and furniture about) but I managed to find most of my missed belongings. And since I love lists (no Andrea, not more than you love them), I will now tell you in list form what I missed so desperately.
  • 2 favourite cook books
  • My spices
  • Spice grinder
  • Eli (very cute stuffed monkey)
  • Chef's knife
  • Flipflops
  • Phone charger
  • Camera software
  • Camping gear
  • Sundry bathroom items
  • Multi vitamins
  • Running shoes
  • Sewing machines and supplies
  • Umbrella
  • Tequila
  • 3 or 4 books I'd bought but hadn't read yet (not found)
My hard learned lesson can hopefully become good advice for you, gentle reader. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, where you need to pack and will be living near your boxed stuff for an unknown quantity of time, consider re-categorizing before you pack. Don't group items based on whether they physically look similar or usually live in the same room. Sort based on frequency of use and value.
  1. Things that you rarely use and have little value can be chucked (Surprisingly, this was about half of my belongings).
  2. Things that you rarely use but have high value (either monetarily or sentimentally) can be packed tight and shoved in the back, hard to reach corners of your storage unit. For me, this includes my read books (unread books belong in category 4, see below), pictures, blue kitchen table, and all stuffies except Eli.
  3. Things that are used a lot but have a low value come next. Keep them relatively easy to reach and well labelled. I should have included my kitchen equipment here. Instead it was carefully stowed at the bottom, in the back, with horrible labels like Kitchen - Misc. This made me hate myself, just a little.
  4. And last, your junk that is of high use and high value go right at the front (see above list). No point in even closing these boxes; you'll be in and out of them more times than a North American tourist in a South American bathroom.

1 comment:

Matt said...

This is just brilliant.

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