Packing is a challenge. If you’re moving out of the country, you need to bring only the essentials and let go of anything you won’t need.

But as you start packing your things, you’ll start wondering where all those things came from. And then, you’d start thinking about which ones to bring, which ones to store in your parents’ house (if they let you), and which ones to let go.

It is tough!

There are a lot of things that are really tough to let go–the small clothes of your child, photo frames, books you love, appliances you’ve worked hard to pay for, and a million other things.

It’s not the price tag of these things that make it difficult to let go, but rather the emotional and historical value they represent in our lives.

Our things tell the story of our lives–they are the key to triggering our memories.

If you could only bring everything with you to the United States, why not? But it will be very expensive just to ship all those things from the Philippines.

So here are some tips that will help you pack or let go of your stuff.

Consider this as an opportunity to restart.

You will be letting go of old things that you don’t need anymore. This also means that you get to buy new ones for your family once you arrive in the US.

When my wife and I moved to the USA, it felt like 2011 all over we again when we got married and moved in together. We bought almost all the things we used to have–TV, mattress, tables, sofa, and more. (If you feel like it will be an expensive project, don’t worry, I’ll write about ways on how to furnish your apartment in the US without breaking the bank.)

Decide which stuff to bring with you.

Boxes, boxes everywhere!

Boxes, boxes everywhere!

Check with your airlines the amount and weight of baggage that you can bring. Most airlines grant you 2 baggage that weigh up to 50 pounds (23 kg) each. If you want to bring more than that, let me warn you–excess baggage on a flight to the US from Manila is freaking expensive!

My wife and our then 2-year old son traveled with me so that meant we could bring 6 pieces of baggage. So we decided which of our stuff to bring and made sure we didn’t go over the weight limit.

Use a set of guidelines when packing.

Keep and Bring. These will include the things you will need and use such as clothes, beddings, some utensils, photos, and other important things that you cannot part with. Since we have a 2-year old when we moved, we also packed some of his favorite toys, his Teddy Bear, and his milk bottles and paraphernalia. We also brought some utensils with us so we would have something to use for eating.

Keep and Store. These will include the things you want to keep–keepsakes, books, important papers perhaps, and other things that you just can’t bear to part with. This is also important if you don’t intend to stay in the United States for a long time.

You will need a place to store these things. If you own a house, then it’s not much of a problem–just keep it there. But you’ll need to check if your parents have space for your things and if it will not cause too much problem in their house.

Sell. If you have appliances and other things you cannot bring, consider selling them. Don’t keep them because they will most likely become obsolete after a year, and if they are used frequently, they will probably be broken anyway. Sell your TV, fridge, washing machine, and any other big items you can’t bring.

List them for sale on Facebook, Craigslist, OLX.ph, or Ebay. Obviously, you will need a few weeks before your flight so you could sell it. Remember, rush sale tends to be cheaper because you are pressed by time.

We sold this small refrigerator for P3,500 on Facebook. An hour after posting it, a friend of ours bought it.

We sold this small refrigerator for P3,500 on Facebook. An hour after posting it, a friend of ours bought it.

Give away. As much as I love books, I probably had to give away 3 or 4 boxes full of books to friends right before we flew to the US. I did have an almost complete set of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. Thankfully, a friend of mine has a brother who’s into it, so I gave it to him. I also donated almost 2 boxes of books to Ida, who in turn donated it to a library in Tacloban to help kids have access to books after the supertyphoon Haiyan.

My brother was just starting out on his own after graduating a few weeks before our flight, so he ended up inheriting our Washing Machine. He would have gotten our refrigerator as well, but he didn’t have space for it in his apartment.

If you have friends and family who need some of the stuff you cannot bring, consider giving it to them.