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What to Take With You When You Are Abandoning the Nest?

Updated on October 16, 2019
Rina Lyabaj profile image

Rina has lived in four different cities in the past five years and every move has been a hit-and-miss that contributed to this guide.

Extend your wings!

Going to study or work in another city or in another country? Planning to share a flat with friends or even strangers? Temporarily or permanently? ... Each transfer requires efficiency when packing. You have to be very aware of what you are going to need in your daily life and pack everything essential, but at the same time - avoid hoarding. Least you have more bags than space in the new closet!

Years ago, when I went to study abroad for the first time, I tried to look for a “material needs” guide for a young university student, but all I found were existentialist articles on the value of the intangible and ads for moving agencies.

Six years later and after my fourth move, I present a system born from the “hit and miss” experience that I would have loved to find back then:


How are you going to move your belongings?

Having a solid logistics plan is vital. Personally, this year I took one checked-in bag by plane, lived for a few days in a youth hostel with a kitchen while visiting possible apartments (I’ve learned from bad experience that visits are necessary to avoid trouble)... and once installed my mother sent me the rest of my things in a box by DHL.

This trick is very comfortable since, if you work (or know someone who does) for a company with a deal with a shipping service, it may end up being way cheaper than checking-in another suitcase.

However, it’s not only necessary to prioritize if you’re moving far enough to need to take the plane, bus or the train, but you may also want to put the top-priority items in the same box if you’re taking all your luggage in one go. Just so you don’t have to rummage through your mountains of stuff for a toothbrush.



I've bolded these top-priority items in the list below. Don't forget them!!

Additionally, the items in italics are those that are really just easier to buy once you arrive to your new home (as long as it's in the next few days, because every house needs them ASAP).

Your 24h needs

1. Wake Up!

  • Dental hygiene tools
  • Makeup / shaving set
  • Shower towels, shower flip-flops (in case of hostel stay)
  • Gel and shampoo
  • Moisturizer
  • Dryer and hair comb

2. Breakfast

  • Teapot / coffee maker / water heater
  • Cup, small bowl, teaspoon

3. Getting dressed

  • Day-to-day clothing: 4-7 full outfits for each season

  • Essential: Only for the current season. Also...
  • A set of emergency "today is too cold" and another of "global warming." clothes
  • A sweatshirt / light jacket
  • A backpack and a handbag/briefcase
  • Formal shoes and sporty sneakers
  • Underwear and socks for a week

4. Exercise

  • Sportswear for two days
  • Gym towels and flip-flops
  • Toiletries bag
  • Reusable bottle

5. Socialize

  • Party clothes 1-2 sets
  • "Special" clothing (for a date, lingerie ...)
  • A card / board game

6. Cooking

  • Two pans, one large and one small
  • A small pot with a lid
  • A cutting board
  • 1-2 kitchen knives
  • Tweezers
  • Colander
  • A wooden / silicone shovel
  • About 2-3 Tupperware
  • A couple of dishes
  • A large salad bowl
  • A pair of cutlery of each type
  • About 2-3 sealing pincers
  • A sponge to wash the dishes and gel
  • 2 kitchen towels (one to clean another to dry)
*Note: most of these tools are shared in student apartments, 
some come with the apartment.

7. Study/work

  • Electronics (computer, mobile, tablet, external battery, camera ...)
  • Their chargers
  • A few auxiliar usb plugs/ports
  • Stationery: one notebook, writing material, folder and organization tools…

8. Grocery run

  • Reusable shopping bag + one of frozen products (they can be used to pack things in the suitcase

9. Laundry

  • A small mesh bag for underwear
  • Stain remover, softener, detergent

10. Sleepy time

  • Your diary / a book
  • Night lamp
  • Two pajamas, one a bit thinner than the other
  • House slippers
  • Two sets of bedding. (Only one as a necessity)
  • Blanket
  • Hot water balloon (recommended)

11. EXTRA (always have a medical kit and a toolbox at hand)

  • Multitool knife
  • Vicks vaporub
  • Band-aids or plaster
  • Antacids
  • Aspirin or Ibuprofen
  • Superglue or liquid silicone
  • Duct tape
  • Replacement earphones
  • Mini sewing kit

Obviously, this is a very general list.

After including all of this don't forget to think specifically about your needs/hobbies/lifestyle and make a list of the items you need in order to safely practice them. Write them down and add them to this guide.


Some additional advise

Cleaning supplies: better to buy them once you are installed, and they are also generally shared in student apartments. You are going to need disinfectant, anti-calc, broom, mop, dust-cleaner and glass cleaner, not to mention the specific needs of each apartment.

Intimate toys: obviously I recommend taking the tools of personal happiness in the checked-in bag, in case your parents think about nosing in the later shipment, but in no case those that use batteries should go with the hand luggage, since then you’ll have to take them out and show them to the inspectors.

Decoration: If there is space I recommend taking something from home to decorate the new room, this way you will feel more homely from the beginning. A traditional frame with a picture of friends or family also will do.

© 2019 Kateryna Lyabaj


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