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4 tips on packing your suitcase for moving abroad

Moving abroad is so stressful! Especially when you need to pack your whole life in a 23 kg suitcase. I have spent the last couple of weeks sorting through memories, favourite dresses, unread books and lovely knick knacks in the hope some of it would fit into my suitcase. And still, I have too much shit! So how do you pack a suitcase when moving abroad? How do you fit your whole life in one suitcase?

How to sort your belongings when moving abroad

I have never been amazing at throwing away my belongings. I will always find a reason to keep hold of something. No, I am not a hoarder – but I am very sentimental, and almost everything has memories or emotions attached to it. So this was actually very hard for me!

First of all, I made a 4-week plan. This 4-week plan corresponded with the 4 weeks until we would have to move out of our house. In the month and a half between moving out and moving to Dubai we would stay with my husband’s parents in the New Forest, and my parents in Belgium. First of all, we wanted to sort through everything in the house. We did this room-by-room. First I went through my office, then through the second bedroom, we went through the books in the living room the clothes in our wardrobes – you get my drift. Everything that needed to be sold on the bootsale went into bags in one corner of the second bedroom – everything to our parents in another and everything we wanted to take to Dubai was put with our suitcases.

As I said before: sorting through everything was harder than I could have imagined. But my husband is the total opposite of me when it comes to his ability to throw away stuff. So that was actually a big help. I would recommend asking someone with that same mindset to help you clear your house. It will literally make things so much easier! I have no idea what I would have done without him!

4 tips on packing your suitcase when moving abroad

Why you should not ship your furniture abroad.

My best friend moved to Curacao when she was 16. Her father had moved to the Caribbean island to open up a dive school. He decided ship his furniture from Belgium to Curacao. Big mistake! It was not only incredibly expensive, furniture also has to fit in your house. You do not buy a house to fit around your furniture, you buy furniture to fit into your house. So they had to throw away a lot of furniture and buy new pieces anyway. That is a lot of money through the drain.

A lot of countries nowadays have an Ikea. Even when moving to for instance, Myanmar – where there is NO Ikea, you will be able to shop Ikea online OR there will be local alternatives. There is literally no use in shipping over your furniture – except of course if it is your comfortable Corbusier LC4 😉 (although it might actually be cheaper to buy a new one!)

Instead you can donate your furniture to charities such as Ellenor and British Heart Foundation. They will come and pick up your donations and will then sell it on to raise money for their charity.

Be sure to keep warm clothes with family members

you will probably be visiting family members over Christmas – no? Well, if you are moving abroad to somewhere warm, it is important to keep warm clothes with family members so you won’t freeze to death over your little Christmas holiday.

Simply put them in a vacuum bag (more about these later on) and hand them over to your family. Definitely keep long trousers, sweaters, T shirts, Jackets – and If you come from a 40 degree Celsius environment like Dubai, you might even want to put in some thermal underwear.

travelling abroad packing suitcase

What vacuum bags to buy when moving abroad.

I love using vacuum bags. You put in your clothes and you suck out the air from the bag with your vacuum. The big pile of clothes shrinks down considerably, making it easier to pack your belongings in your suitcase.

My husband’s grandmother told me Poundland sold vacuum bags. I visited all three Poundland shops in town and ultimately found these vacuum bags. Now – here is the thing. I went for the Poundland vacuum bags because – indeed: they were cheap. But they are also very useless.

You see: there are two kinds of vacuum bags. Firs you have the roll up vacuum bags. You do not need to use a hoover, you just get out the air by rolling up the bags and the clothes inside them. I was not impressed with the result: but hey… I never used vacuum bags before. How was I to know what to expect from a vacuum bag.

But it just did not sit right with me: the pile of clothes in the vacuum bag was just as large as when I put it in. Just a bit more dishevelled because of the rolling. I looked up a video review of the more expensive vacuum bags – the ones where you suck out the air with your vacuum. I do not think I was ever this quick to order anything online! I literally ordered a big pack of vacuum bags in bed ( I had just woken up).

Lo and behold: the pile of clothes in my suitcase went down from almost full (with the poundland bags) to less than half full (with the real vacuum bags).


Moving abroad is overwhelming, stressful and it wears you out. But there will always be great tips, tricks and tools to make your life easier. Declutter your life and pack your suitcase only with essentials. Don’t forget that unless you are moving to Antarctica: you will probably be able to get whatever little cream or book you might want to pack.

4 tips on packing your suitcase when moving abroad

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