Tag Archives: Packing

[Adulting 101] Stressless Guide to Moving States

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The last year has been an exciting, invigorating – but trying year; there were a lot of changes, a lot of gives and takes – but most of all there was growth out of the little cocoon that I called my former life, giving birth to the butterfly of now. There were step backs and set backs, but they were all but beyond necessary for the growth I’ve incurred over the last few months. You see, a writer through and through – I’ve more or less bypassed writer’s block over the past two years and have gone straight into a mental cryogenic freeze. Sure, there’s output – but it’s been bland, boring, unsentimental and void of any emotional quality I possessed. All the while – in tandem – my husband and I have been seeking the unknown in search of a better life. Until recently, I honestly hadn’t paired the two together though I understand now they’re forever tied together – moving, changing, adapting, evolving, repeating. The more we’ve moved, the more I’ve caught us shedding the layers of our former selves as we get rid of our excess baggage, both figuratively and literally.

Until this year, and aside from moving to and away from college – I’ve only had the mental capacity to imagine a move within the same city. Fast forward to now, and over the last six months, we’ve moved states – twice; and to boot, we’ve done it with five cats in tow.

The why is equally interesting, but this is (mostly) about the how: how did we seamlessly transition from a big city, to a small town and then back into a big city; how did we stay on top of the bureaucracy of moving and updating the right sources; and how did we make sure we had all our ducks in a row? By keeping an organized, open mind about our future; by making lists and listening to our parents and peers.

The House Hunt

About once a day, if not more frequently, I catch myself praising the internet; I’ve never had to look for places to live without it, and I surely can’t imagine doing that now. Moving up to Oregon, we lucked out with a family friend and didn’t have to pay much thought to being on the housing grind; needless to say, our move to Seattle was quite different. Though incredibly similar, we were finding suitable digs on a bevvy of sites from Zillow to Trulia, Redfin and Apartments.com; and thanks to phone notifications, we were virtually checking out new places every other hour. The most useful of the above for us was Zillow – with ample metrics to search on, ways to draw your search area instead of using a zip code or the polygon method, and a beautifully ergonomic way of laying out their website.

Once you have a handful of winners handy, get your schedule out and make a day or two of it. While you’re there, find a restaurant or coffee shop in the neighborhoods you’re considering to eat at and muse to yourself on if you could see yourself being a regular, stride into a bar to grab a quick drink and soak up some local lore, or take a walk around a park or through the downtown area to really get a feel for living there. However, if you can’t make it in to see the area before you move – don’t throw yourself into a lease without loving it! Airbnb for Work offers a new way to acclimate to a new city, with pre-furnished locations that can be rented for extended periods of time; which gives you the mental space to find the right place to call home.

Caution: One thing we noticed while house hunting were some Craigslist Scams, with places we’d found on Zillow or Trulia for half the market price; and we learned that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. You’ll get an email with a sob story or tale of altruism, either way it will feel so intimate that you also let your guard down. Then then’ll ask for the money via mail because they are ‘no longer‘ in the area; never ever ever ever send someone money without a formal lease and receiving your keys. Beyond paying for your background screening, money for rentals should never be exchanged until the final walk-through.

Pack It Up, Pack It In

Packing can seem overwhelming – but that’s because we can’t all be like Merlin from The Sword in the Stone. If I could just Higitus Figitus my belongings in under 3 minutes, I would have moved halfway across the world seven times by now; once again Disney is at it with the unrealistic expectations of life, but – I digress. However, with a step-mother who was a professional organizer and a childhood life that had me switching houses every week from the age of 3, one could say I’ve gotten pretty damn good at this part of the moving puzzle.

The first part is the easiest: snagging boxes. For most of your items, bankers boxes do just fine – and since lot of big box stores throw away the packaging, your can get a handful for free (but, make sure you ask!). For item specific, your local U-haul store has exactly what you need in any size you could imagine; glassware, dishware, TV boxes – you name it, they can protect it. As a general rule, the more boxes you have the easier this will be – you can prevent return trips to the store and trying to shove too much into a single box; plus, you can always return your boxes for cash, or donate them to U-haul’s free box bin. Along with the boxes, make sure you have the following: a few rolls of packing tape – it’s the brown one, and it’s twice as strong as the clear tape; a tape gun (you’re welcome); a handful of giant sharpies; and finally twine for when you’re keeping boxes in place once you’ve loaded the car / truck / whichever.

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Now that we have the boxes, we’re on to my favorite part; I like to call this ‘The Purge’. Let’s start by marinating on this: not everything you currently have needs to be taken with you, and you don’t have to keep everything that you end up taking with you. Throw a little Marie Kondo into your chaotic life and use this as an excuse to downsize and minimize your belongings into things you need, use or love. If it doesn’t fit in those categories, or as Kondo would say – if it doesn’t inspire happiness – there’s three new categories you can put it in: donate, recycle or trash.

Once you’ve whittled down your wares, it’s time to quite literally pack your shit up. There’s a familiar old adage that the ‘pen is mightier than the sword’ – and that’s doubly true when it comes to packing up your personal belongings. For every box you pack, make sure to write in clearly and in big letters on each and every side of the box; that way, it doesn’t matter how you load it, you’ll know what’s on the inside by the outside. If you want to level up your organization even more, put an itemized list on top of each box so you know what’s in it when you open it, and keep a second copy of that list on you so you know which box is which as you’re unloading on the back end.

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Spread the News

Once you find that perfect pad – tell your family, tell your friends, and then you should tell the post office so you can set up your mail forwarding. It’s incredibly simple, and their website has everything you need to get it set up. Beyond USPS, you should also alert the following institutions and businesses to turn on, turn off, or transition your user information. Car Insurance varies from state to state depending on where you live, and each state has their own sales tax; to boot, some places like Oregon have no sales tax – while Washington state doesn’t have a state income tax.

Transfer or Forward Current Services to New Location:

  • USPS
  • Insurance: Car and Renters / Home Insurance
  • Bank Accounts and Credit Cards

Stop Service at Current Location, Start New Service at New Location:

  • Gas / Power / Electricity
  • Water / Sewer / Garbage
  • Internet: Did you know that most states won’t let you bring in equipment for other states? Moving to Washington, I didn’t – and had to do a little do-see-do with XFinity to return my Oregon modem and get a new Washington one.
  • Drivers License and Registration: educate yourself on the driving rules of your new location; though they aren’t going to completely change, it’s important to be up to date on what’s happening.
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New Kid on the Block

So, now we’re here – wherever here is; but here isn’t there –  you left, uprooted yourself and have replanted yourself with grace, care, and probably a bit of ambient anxiety; because – what now?! You left creature comforts behind for broader, more colorful horizons; maybe you left family behind, a group or two of ambient friendships or maybe just a few amazing friends – either way, you spent your time investing in yourself in your last city and guess what, you developed friendships that made saying goodbye difficult. Good news, saying hello to new friendships and strangers is a lot easier than saying goodbye! Pick 3 to 5 things you enjoy doing, whether it’s going for hikes or finding craft breweries, a nightclub where you can shake that ass all night long to some groovy beats or a gym where you can join a zumba, spin or yoga class. The key is to be honest with yourself about your passions, and you’ll undoubtedly find others who share in them with you.

What are some of your tips and tricks for moving to a new state?

Let me know in the comments below!

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[Traveling Tales] Packing The Perfect Weekender Bag

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“He who would travel happily must travel light.”
―  Antoine de St. Exupery

My entire life, I’ve been inexplicably drawn to the buzz and twinkle of neon lights and the industrial landscape of the heart of the city much like a bee to honey. The hustle and bustle of determined personalities paired with the high octane energy of any metropolitan area are enough to make my heart swoon – but lately, I’ve had this indescribable itch for whimsical wanderlust and awe inspiring adventure that I just have to scratch.  When I stop and think about the last few years of my life, each and every season – or more accurately, almost each and every month – consisted of a major, multi day camping music festival in some far away location.  From driving down the Pacific Coast to gallivanting to Arizona’s Gem and Jam Festival and all the adventures in between, I now have a handy list of the best iOS apps for roadtrips and some nifty tricks to help book your fun filled getaway.

Fast forward to now, and though I feel I’ve outgrown (most of) my need for festivals, I’ve held onto my insatiable urge to delve into the depths of nature and really explore the beauty that surrounds me. Cathartic and soothing, the open road and traveling tales have slowly but surely have evolved into two of my favorite things.  Some trips end up being more well planned, while others seem to happen at the spur of the moment – but either way they’re spun, it’s finally ingrained in my brain how important having the perfect weekend bag is.  Whether you’re roughing it in the great outdoors or heading to a new metropolitan area for the weekend, I’ve found a fool proof list to pack quickly and efficiently for your impending vacation.

necessities

Wearables

Though we might not have traditional seasons in California – What is Winter, anyways? – we definitely have Fire Seasons, and each day can bring a huge swing in weather.  It’s always smart to query a site like Weather Underground or the like so you can get a more accurate scope of the upcoming forecast, just in case a surprise storm comes through.If you’re heading into the great outdoors, just remember – you’ll probably get dirty, make sure you don’t mind the clothes you bring coming back dirty as well. 

 In case of a heat wave, a swimsuit and towel are a must – and a pair of polarized or rose colored shades makes it an unbeatable trifecta. I’ve always thought it’s better to be prepared than sorry, so make sure you bring some warmer layers along for the trip – including a lightweight hoodie and a heavyweight jacket for cold spells; bonus points for mittens, a scarf , beanie – or my personal go-to: my spirit hood.   I always find it easier to layer when I have tank tops underneath, but you do you. Add in a pair of pants and either shorts or a skirt for each day, and double the amount of underwear and socks as the number of days you’re gone. (if you’re camping, potentially even triple – there’s just nothing better than a clean pair of socks and underwear after a long, sweaty day romping around in the best nature has to offer.) Last but definitely not least, make sure you have a comfortable pair of walking shoes with good tread, a pair of flip flops – and maybe a pair of boots or snow shoes to round out your footwear.  

Entertainment

Though I’m sure you’ll be heading out into the great beyond with your squad, that’s not to say you won’t find some down time – or even alone time. Beyond having ‘regular’ luggage, I try to always have a fun bag of things that I enjoy keeping near me at all times while on vacation, including a camera to capture the memories, a portable speaker to share the jams and a pair of headphones in case you just need a little lullaby to send you off to sleep for a midday siesta.  I always try to have a book on me because you never know what downtime you’ll find yourself in, but if you’re on the more artistic side – bring a journal and a set of colored pens or pencils, and get the whole gang in on some creative action.  Everyone loves toys so toss in a deck of cards, a football or volleyball (bonus points if it glows in the dark), and if you delve in the art of flow toys it’s the perfect occasion to bust out your poi, hoop or set of lights.

Toiletries

Last but certainly not least, the bathroom bag.  It’s so necessary, and chances are – if you’re like me – you always forget something important!  So, I’ve developed a top to bottom method where I literally start at the top of my head and work down to think about what I need to take.  When it comes to packing a parcel of toiletries, remember – travel sizes and sample sizes are your friends!  If you head to a motel or hotel, don’t forget to stock up! 😉

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The Short List:

Wearables: Multiply the following items of clothing by the number of days you’ll be gone

  • Tank Tops x 2
  • Hoodie
  • Jacket
  • Extra warmth: Scarf | Beanie | Spirit Hood
  • Pair of pants
  • Pair of shorts or a skirt
  • Underwear x 2
  • PJs
  • Socks x 3
  • Sneakers
  • Flip Flops
  • SpiritHood

Entertainment

  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Sunglasses
  • Deck of cards
  • Cell Phone Charger
  • Camera
  • Portable Speaker
  • Headphones
  • Passport / ID / Wallet
  • Flow Toys
  • Fun Read

Toilettries

  • Hair brush
  • Hair ties
  • Eye glasses and/or Contacts + Solution
  • Ear Plugs
  • Tissues
  • Toothpaste + Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • Face Wash
  • Wash Cloth
  • Chapstick
  • Deoderant
  • Sunscreen or Lotion with SPF
  • Prescription Medication
  • Ibuprofen
  • Bonus Points: Midol – for the guys out there, the extra kick of caffeine helps with hangovers!

One last amazing thing that I’ve recently discovered is that Google Maps can be taken offline, so if you’re conserving your phone battery or you find yourself in a desolate area without service – never fear, the directions are here!  Gas Stations are your friend, and will more often than not keep you from peeing all along the highway and marking your proverbial territory….plus, yano, snacks and stuff. Even if you don’t think you’re hungry, snag some energy bars and water – you never know when the urge will strike!

What are your tried and true roadtrip tips?

Let me know in the comments below!

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”
― Jack Kerouac ―

[The Audiofiles] Music Festival Packing Essentials

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Sleep hasn’t come easy these past few nights. Slowly but surely, we’ve been starting to pack for Lightning in a Bottle and every night I’ve been lying in bed, rehashing plans and crossing my fingers I’m not forgetting anything. Thank goodness I’ve developed into a semi pack-rat about things; after some quick thinking, I unearthed my packing list from the festival last year and with a few fell swoops I’ve developed a new, improved and rather idiot-proof list of festival essentials that you won’t want to leave home without!


Tent
If you’re camping, this is almost a ‘No-duh!’ moment. Of COURSE you want a tent, but what kind of tent? First, take into account how many people you’re camping with (if you’re small, add one – trust)) and before you make that impulse purchase that sounds too good to be true (read: it probably is), Google that shit and see how it ranks on Amazon.  We got our 3-Person Coleman tent at Big 5 on an uber discount, but Amazon as always is also amazing.

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Don’t forget your sleeping bags, some toss away pillows and second hand blankets that you’re okay getting a little trashed over the weekend.

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Different Types of Footwear
As awesome as it is to gallivant around in sandals all day, sometimes – they’re just not practical.  I always have a pair of toss-away boots on me in case the weather gets wacky – and if you’re feeling fiesty, there’s no better feeling than getting a new pair of electric or neon inspired kicks.

Bubble Guns

Fact: you can’t say the word ‘Bubble’ and be unhappy. Try it. Now again. That very feeling is the reason I looooove running around with a bubble gun at festivals! Not only are you constantly making your day with your own floating, translucent Technicolor army – but you’ll be making the weekend a prettier place for everyone.

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Try your local convenience store, CVS, Rite-Aid or Target for awesome options!

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See all that stuff you’re planning on bringing? At some festivals, you get to camp with your car which is absolutely perfect.  Others, like Lightning in a Bottle, you have to buy a separate pass for car camping and some – like myself – choose not to.  So we don’t have to break our backs lugging stuff (and people!) too and fro, we’ve invested in this handy dandy garden cart.  Check your local Home Depot or gardening stores (or, per usual – Amazon)

Water
Whether it’s a pallet of water bottles from Costco, or a refillable, personalized water jug – you should always know where your next drink of water is coming from.  Plus, if you’re the creative type – it’s always
fun customizing something you’ll be able to use at future festivals!

20140521-085934-32374804.jpgMini Supply and First Aid Kit
You never know what could go down at a music festival, and it doesn’t hurt to be prepared – snag a little first aid kit from your local convenience store and make sure you’re fully stocked with hydrogen peroxide, band aids, tums, wet wipes, ear plugs.

While you’re at it, throw in a hammer, pair of scissors and a roll of duct tape just in case; you never know what you could need!

Mini Grill
One thing I forget to think about at festivals is food, and even though there are always ample options in the food court – they can cost a pretty penny.  Which for one day, and one meal – it’s not so bad….but on day four of a festival, you might wish you’d brought some of your own snacks. Invest in one of these, pre-freeze some hamburger patties, get some ketchup, mustard and buns and have yourself a little festival tail-gate.  Plus, food is a phenomenal way to meet friends.

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Having a small bag at all times to house your little gear – like travel sized SPF, chapstick, your cell, wallet  and a camera – is 110% necessary.  Some ladies love the over the shoulder satchels, but I opt for something a little more retro and hands free.

Waterproof Camera Case
EDC week in Las Vegas last year was the first time I’d played around with a waterproof camera case, and ever since I’ve been on the prowl for one of my own. So, when we were at Big 5 the other day grabbing a tent – I couldn’t resist the impulse purchase!  Now, instead of worrying about getting sprayed with water, jumping in the pool or ruining my camera – I can get that epic shot I’ve always wanted.  I’m also bringing an extra, fully charged battery, sturdy case and a charger just in case it runs out of juice.

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Mini Flashlights
At night time, it can be hard to find your way – especially back to camp. I stocked up on little flashlights so everyone in my camp can have one – and it’ll definitely make going to the bathrooms at night a lot easier 😉

Festival Friendly Beauty Products
Model in a Bottle: You definitely don’t need much makeup during a festival, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want the option.  I absolutely SWEAR by this product – spritz it on after applying makeup for a set that’ll last through water, sweat, tears and lots of epic raving.  I’ve used this at every EDC since ’08 and my makeup’s been flawless post-ragefest.

Fenix SunscreenMost suncreens deposit a layer on your skin that the sun can still fight through, Fenix products reflect sunlight instead of absorbing – which is so much better for your skin!

Real Spray Aloe: If your sunscreen fails, it’s nice to have something as backup and spray aloe is the way to go.

Ouidad Climate Control: Frizzy, Curly, Straight – whatever you want your hair to do, it might not be so willing on Days 3 as it was on Day 1 to control itself – get a little glob of this on your hands and through your hair and you’ll be set for the entire day.

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Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to bring a towel so you can dry off quickly after galavanting through spritzing water, a quick shower or for something to catch some rays (and Zzzz’s) over the weekend.

Oh, and some good vibes and great company – but you knew that already, I’m sure 🙂 Friends might say that I’m in rare form this year – on the regular, my social schedule can get pretty packed, especially in the Summer months. Blame it on age, or being happy in love and filling my life with a world beyond festival life – but over the past year, I’ve more or less removed myself from the festival circuit. Electric Daisy Carnival, Together As One, Love Festival, How Sweet it Is, Nocturnal Wonderland – you name it, if it’s been in Southern Cali in the past 7 years I probably raved it. Gradually, my taste in music evolved and I migrated from being an open minded observer, to a full on member of this beautiful, international community of music aficionados and perpetual dream chasers.  I started the year with Sea of Dreams, and besides Lightning in a Bottle – and maybe Sun City in Texas, there’s nothing on my agenda – so I have to ask: what are your favorite music festivals and what are your must have packing essentials?