At 22 years old, I moved from Los Angeles to New York by plane. The journey took nine hours, and I squeezed as many of my belongings as I could into three suitcases.
The summer after I graduated from the University of Southern California, I decided to move from my hometown of Los Angeles to New York City. I filled three suitcases and a carry-on with clothes, shoes, toiletries, and personal items.
Overall, I think I did a decent job packing for the move, but there are some things I would have done differently. Since this was my first out-of-state move, I had no idea what to expect and was shocked by how necessary some items proved to be.
I learned a lot throughout the process, especially the importance of organized, thoughtful packing.
Here are four items I regret leaving behind and four I’m glad I brought with me on my cross-country move from Los Angeles to New York.
But there were some possessions I regret not bringing with me. I wish I had packed more decorative pieces, like posters and photos, to brighten up the stark white walls in my new apartment.
Since the space I had in my suitcases was limited, decorative pieces were the last thing on my mind while packing. I knew I’d ship some pieces from my Los Angeles apartment later, but I wish I had tried to fit some posters and decor items in my carry-on bag.
When I got to New York, unpacking and settling in was a huge relief. But the move didn’t have a satisfying end since my walls and furniture were bare for so long. The little decor I did bring couldn’t be hung up immediately since I still had to buy more artwork and frames.
If I could do it again, I would prioritize packing decorative pieces from my previous room in LA.
I was also annoyed that I didn’t bring my umbrella after being forced to buy one during one of New York’s summer rains.
While packing for the move, my umbrella was the last thing in my suitcase and the first thing I took out. After weighing my bags, I realized I had to shed a few items, and my umbrella didn’t make the cut.
After I landed in New York in late August, a summer storm set in, and I was forced to purchase a $20 umbrella from my local Target.
Since umbrellas don’t take up too much space in a suitcase, I suggest bringing one on a cross-country move to avoid wasting money on a repurchase.
In Los Angeles, I used foldable closet organizers from Ikea to make the most of my apartment’s limited drawer space, but I regrettably forgot to bring them to New York.
I used containers and dividers from Ikea in my college dorm to organize my drawer space, and I kept most of those organizers all four years and stored them for safekeeping.
Since New York is known for its limited closet space, I purchased an Ikea bed with drawers. I’m thankful for the extra space, but I wish I had remembered to bring the drawer organizers I used in the past.
When I unpacked all my t-shirts, pants, and sweaters, I realized I didn’t leave room for underclothes anywhere. I find closet organizers bring order to an otherwise stressful process, and they are something I’m going to repurchase soon.
When I got to New York, I had to repurchase all the expensive hair products I could have brought from home, which cost me over $200.
I figured saving space in my checked baggage was essential for my cross-country move. But there are certain beauty products I wish I had packed in my suitcase for money-saving purposes.
Having to buy all new hair products, along with other toiletries, was a much higher cost than I expected. Between Target and CVS, I spent over $200 buying all the new hair products and accessories I had left home.
If I could do it again, I would have found space for these items in my checked baggage.
Though I left some essential items behind, I also appreciated some things I brought with me more than I expected. For instance, given New York’s grime, I’m grateful I brought the house shoes I almost tossed.
Before I left Los Angeles, I donated clothes and shoes to lighten the load. I almost got rid of my old Birkenstock sandals, but I decided to keep them for indoor wear at the last minute.
After the move, I was so grateful to have house shoes to change into after long days of walking around New York. I learned quickly that the last thing you want to track into your apartment is the city’s dirt and grime.
I’m so glad I stuck my water bottle in my carry-on, especially since it was the only thing I had to drink out of when I moved into my apartment.
Even though I planned on buying all new glassware once I got to New York, packing my water bottle proved to be a game changer.
When I travel, I like to bring a reusable water bottle, so fitting the bottle in my carry-on came as second nature while packing for the move.
When I arrived in NYC in August, it was hot and humid, so drinking water on the go was essential. Since my roommates and I had limited glassware in our first couple of weeks, my water bottle became a staple both inside and outside of my apartment.
Fitting my tote bags in my suitcases was the right move since they became a convenient style necessity that I underestimated while packing.
Regarding packing my suitcase, bags like totes and fanny packs weren’t a massive priority. But they didn’t take up much room, so I tossed a couple in there.
In the first weeks of my move, I realized how valuable a tote bag or fanny pack could be in a city like New York. I use these bags nearly every day to go shopping at the grocery store or carry things during a long walk. Apart from being functional, I also find them to be stylish.
Though it may have gone against conventional wisdom and weighed down my carry-on, fitting my journals and books in my suitcase was worth the hassle.
I was very selective while packing my carry-on bag because of its smaller size. But certain books and journals were nonnegotiable for me, no matter how much space they took up.
As an avid writer and note-taker, my journal proved to be a saving grace in the hustle and bustle of the big move. Taking time to journal and read throughout all the chaos was the best thing for my mental health, and I’m glad I was able to prioritize these items in the packing process.
I learned that, during a big move, it’s just as essential to make space for the things that will bring you peace of mind as it is to save space — or maybe more.