10 Things I Wish I Had (or Hadn’t) Left Behind in My Cross-Country Move

published May 4, 2018
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The best piece of advice I received when I moved from Toronto to Vancouver last year came from a family member who had more than one major move under his belt. Having experienced the anxiety of packing and the self-doubt that comes with paring down, he told me, “you’re always going to throw away stuff that you wish you kept and bring stuff that you wish you left behind.” More wisdom than straight up advice, the only hole I see in his logic is that he failed to acknowledge the third category of things: stuff that you swear you did pack but has mysteriously evaporated into thin air.

In honor of his wise words (which did indeed prove true), here are 10 things I wish had (and hadn’t) left behind in the move

(Image credit: Lindsey Kay Averill)

1. I Wish I Kept My Record Player

There are certain game-time decisions you make when you move, and for me, leaving behind my boxy record player was one of them. What did make the cut was my record collection, which is now display only until I get my act together. Unfortunately for my vinyl, “reacquire record player” just keeps getting bumped from the top of the to-do list.

2. I Wish I Left My DVDs

I don’t expect any sympathy here. In the age of Netflix, who in their right mind would insist on packing an 18-gallon tub filled to the brim with DVD cases and drive it across the entire country? It was an incredible amount of real estate to sacrifice especially considering we only took what we could stuff into a single carload. I wasn’t thinking clearly, trapped in a prison of nostalgia. If I ever move again, I vow to just take the discs.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

3. I Wish I Kept My Books

Given that (a) books are very heavy (and weight was a serious concern as we loaded up our unsuspecting sedan), and (b) the likelihood of rereading most of our collection was relatively low, keeping only our most favorite books seemed like a logical choice. Unfortunately logic can leave your shelves looking a bit lonely and leave a novella-sized hole in your heart. In future moves, I’ll leave no book behind!

4. I Wish I Left My Wine Glasses

Nothing adds unnecessary stress to a move like fragile cargo. Rather than bundling up our long stem glasses in bubble wrap and hoping for the best, we would have been better off leaving them behind with some vino-loving pals. Let’s just say there were some cabernet casualties.

(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

5. I Wish I Left My Shoes

These dust-collecting accessories were easy to rationalize when I packed my bags and I ended up keeping old runners and extra flip-flops for a handful of what-if scenarios. I should have been more ruthless with my shoe collection given that half of them give me blisters anyway.

6. I Wish I Kept My Salad Spinner

Purchasing random kitchen accessories for the second time is a uniquely joyless activity. Culinary tools like salad spinners and pepper mills seem like easy sacrifices when you’re packing, but you’ll regret being so flippant when you are forced to buy a last-minute dollar store spaghetti strainer.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

7. I Wish I Kept My Duvet

Don’t take a good duvet for granted. Our replacement comforter is unseasonably warm even in the winter months! If you have good bedding, never let go.

8. I Wish I Left My Clothes

I thought I had done an admirable job shrinking my wardrobe down but I somehow still have half a closet full of things I never wear (including more than one old Halloween costume). I like only approximately four of my shirts at any given time and I should have just gone with those.

(Image credit: Federico Paul)

9. I Wish I Kept My Art

Even though I know that there was simply not enough room in our Hyundai Elantra, I can’t help but fantasize about the day I’ll return to claim our remaining artwork from our benevolent family member’s storage room.

10. I Wish I Left My Box

Everyone has that box. You know the one. It contains loose change, a Blackberry charger, some rubber bands and a remote control that controls nothing at all. It’s the worst box there is and yet somehow mine was tenacious enough to make it across the entire country. I wish I left it behind. But you know what? I’d probably miss it if I did.

This post is part of a three-part series—you can find out more about Colleen’s move here: 5 Lessons I Learned from Moving Across the Country and 5 Things to Buy First When you Move to a New City.