Empire State of Broke: What/How to Pack

NYC career change move adventure

It’s been a couple of weeks since I updated this (read the last post here), most of that time I’ve been curled up in bed with a horrible case of the flu. Thanks to everyone for reading this and all your positive comments and encouragement! It is so so so appreciated! If this is your first time reading this series, thank you so much for joining! You can read week one here!

This week I’m talking about what and how to pack. If you have a fully paid for corporate moving package, this post probably isn’t for you. For those of you making a big move and looking to take as little as possible, this is what you do. If you’re studying abroad or backpacking through Europe, etc you’ll also find these tips useful!

This may sound like a given, but folding every single shirt and pair of pants is a big space saver! I got a flip fold board to make sure everything was folded neatly and the same size to save extra space (these are fantastic for keeping organized too! Buy one here!). When you’re trying to pack your life into a few suitcases, every little bit of space counts.

Next I used vacuum sealable bags. Those are a lifesaver. Ziploc makes travel ones where you don’t need the vacuum and they are amazing! You can buy them from Amazon here. I love them for traveling, or storing sweaters and other seasonal clothing. I used around 10 of these bags.

All of my smaller items like tanks, undies, stockings were rolled and put in Ziploc bags to keep it organized.

Then it was a giant game of Tetris with the different bags, shoes and hair stuff and making sure my checked bag wasn’t other 50 lbs. Which it was. By 2 lbs. That was definitely the most frustrating part, since everything was packed so perfectly.

What did I bring? Mostly clothes. Everything else is simply too bulky to take right away. Decorations, souvenirs, my favorite blanket, all left behind. Thankfully, I was able to take this stuff to my parents to keep for a bit and ship later. If you don’t have that luxury, pack it in a box and mail it via FedEx. If you’re driving, you have a lot more room to work with than I did so you won’t need to be as strict as I was with packing.

I separated all of my clothes by season. Anything I would be wearing within the next 2-3 months came with, minus my bulky coats. I brought my favorite and most versatile pair of boots and left the rest behind to be shipped later. Since it’s cold here, I brought sweaters and scarves to layer with. I brought one tote bag and a crossbody purse along with some of my jewelry.

Moving is a great time to donate stuff, so a TON of my stuff was donated. Any shoes I was on the fence about, gone. Shirts I hadn’t worn in years and couldn’t see myself wearing anymore? Bye! This is the time to be really picky about your stuff. If you aren’t sure about it and don’t see potential in it, donate it. A lot of women don’t have nice workout tops or cute little peep toe flats and would be so happy to have those things. That’s how I think about it when I’m deciding what to keep and what to toss, would someone else enjoy this more than me? If so, it likely gets donated.

When you’re deciding what to take and you have limited room, think about the current season and the next couple of months. Think about what items you wore last October thru December, or May thru August.

If you forget something you need? These sites I wrote about here have AMAZING sales on everything from cleaning supplies, home decor and any clothing you could need!

When you move how do you usually do it?



NYC career change move adventure

  • ninaframbuesa

    Such useful tips, especially the flip fold board and vacuum sealable bags! I posted on minimalist packing for a move abroad a few weeks ago: http://ninaframbuesa.weebly.com/ninaframbuesa/what-to-pack-when-moving-abroad

  • Valerie CottageMakingMommy

    This is excellent advice. I have a friend who is on her way cross country now in a move.

  • Pack Your Baguios

    We’re hoping to move in a couple of years, so we’re already trying to make small dents in our clutter. It’s very freeing to get rid of “stuff”.

  • Oyinkan Ogunleye

    Oh wow how interesting! I always overpack so I don’t even know how to pack a small amount for even a weekend trip as that alone requires a duffle and maybe a small suitcase.

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Moving is the perfect opportunity to get rid of stuff! I like the idea of the Ziploc bags. I always roll all my clothes when I travel but those might come in handy. Happy moving!

  • When we moved we got rid of TONS of stuff too.

    I need to try those vacuum seal bags.

  • We used a lot of these methods when my husband and I made our last move. We gave away so much great stuff to Goodwill that we just couldn’t afford to take with us and shipped so many packages because it just didn’t make sense to make so many back and forth trips. Plus, this airtight bags really are a lifesaver aren’t they? We saved so much space with them!

  • Tara

    We recently moved out of my parents house into our own home. I have this app LetGo it has been pretty awesome and cheap because everywhere else is so expensive nowadays.

  • Great tips! I’ve heard about those vacuum bags they sound really good. I actually love sorting out myself and donating it to charity. I don’t like holding onto stuff and it makes life easier when ever going through the process of moving.

    Lennae xxx

  • kandja sylla

    These are great tips! I found myself looking for vacuum bags–they are lifesavers. Moving is a good time for me to see stuffs I haven’t used which I can giveaway or donate. Great post! xx


  • Stephanie

    I’ve gotten into trouble with the vacuum bags before. I ended up loading way too much weight into my suitcases. When I moved overseas, I found dress bags were lifesavers. The cabin crew gave me a funny look when they felt how heavy it was, but I was able to sneak a couple extra kilos that way.

    Adventure in Aussieland

  • Nicole Osburn

    I really want to get one of those folding boards for T-shirts. Packing under 50 pounds seems to be so difficult for me also. Great tips! Are you having fun in NYC?

  • Kristy

    I’ve been eyeing one of those folding boards. I think that they would help me with my OCD when it comes to perfectly folded laundry — and it would be a great tool for my kids to start helping me. Those vacuum bags are such a life saver, too!

  • I moved from NY to NC fifteen years ago and then NC to SC eight years ago. I hope to never move again. I did so very sloppily and I remember it being a pain in the you know what. I will surely remember these tips should I have to again.

  • I moved from Connecticut to Denmark with a corporate relo package and it was awesome! I think half of my shipping container was American goods I knew I couldn’t get here. I wonder what the white glove moving guys were thinking as they packed 50 jars of my favorite salsa…lol!

    I’m an ace packer though, I can get a week’s worth of stuff into my Louis Vuitton Keepall 🙂

  • When we moved from Zambia to the UK we just came with a suitcase each lol. Mum had started buying things to replace what we were leaving but I know when I am traveling across Europe vacuum bags it

  • Jessica Hughes

    Moving can be so stressful! And packing just the minimal? So difficult!

  • Censie ‘Mumby’ Sawyer

    Moving is so exhausting. We havent moved for over 8 years which has been great. All of our moves have been pretty small but it still takes a lot of planning!

  • Ashley Sapp

    Really useful tips!

  • Janine Good

    These are so much help! Moving is in the top 10 most stressful things in life and these have helped immensely!

  • I definitely purge SO much stuff each time I move. When I moved abroad, I had two giant duffel bags that had to weigh 50 lbs or less too. I definitely used vacuum-sealed bags to free up space. My one splurge on space and weight was peanut butter. You can buy peanut butter in France, but it’s hard to find, and it’s expensive. I LOVE peanut butter, so I took 3 giant jars with me!

  • Moving is always stressful. These are great tips.


  • HollyAllie Noah

    Not a fan of packing and moving. These are great tips for a stress free move.

  • FullTimeCanada

    Packing is the least enjoyable part of moving/travelling. Great tips though!

  • Casey Fossett Powers

    Uggghhh! The worst, but your tips are right on! Happy safe travels my dear!

  • Lisa Sell

    I am hopeless at packing! I’m always telling myself that I need that one thing that I always never use when I get to my destination.

    Just a thing I want to point out and it could be just me, the light coloured font you have on white is hard to read. Maybe a darker colour is needed? Just a suggestion.

  • Aisha Sylvester

    Great tips, I especially like the idea of placing small items in ziplock bags, never thought of that before!

  • Packing stinks!!! But your tips are great! Safe travels!

    Rachel | The Confused Millennial

    • sara.hernandez013@gmail.com

      It is THE worst, especially when you want to still look fashionable and not wear the same outfit everyday but you have limited space. Thanks for stopping by Rachel!

  • These are great tips! My friend and I drove cross-country when I moved to Florida in 2007, and those vacuum bags were a serious lifesaver! Separating things by season is really smart too, not that we really have seasons here, haha! And of course, shipping items is always a great idea, and gives you something to look forward to. All your old favorites become new again! Congrats on the big move!

    • sara.hernandez013@gmail.com

      Thanks for stopping by Beth! I would say you have no idea how great those vacuum bags are 😉 but really they saved me a huge headache a lot of stress. I’m a style blogger in NYC so having a lot of cute clothes with me is fairly important. I do wish I had packed my coat though! OOPS!

  • Anamika Ojha

    Some great tips shared! Before moving to the US, I gave my clothes and shoes to my girl friends. I didn’t know about Shirt Folding Board but it’s amazing. I will buy this!

  • Melissa Chee

    I’ve been curious about Ziploc bags!

  • Valerie CottageMakingMommy

    I’m praying you are over the flu. I think these tips are smart. I’m curious about the Ziploc bags too.

  • I have been wanting one of those flip boards and these are some great tips on moving. My mom was the best shirt folder ever because she worked in retail and this was without the flip board. She was a pro at it. Thanks for sharing these great tips.

  • Great Tips!! I am one of those people who seriously hates packing because I always over do it. These will hopefully help me out on my next trip to pack what I need and not so much what I think I may need..LOL