Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Planning Your Move: Spreadsheets, Time Machines, and Lime Skittles

With only three weeks until term begins and the annual “great lease renewal” of Boston September 1st, if you have yet to plan how you are moving yourself and belongings to your new apartment, the time has come. I moved to the city cross-country from Texas in early August and so, with 1,839 miles and nearly thirty hours in a Kia Niro hybrid worth of experience, here are a few suggestions I have about how to prepare for your move if you, like me, need to cover a long distance: 

  1. Utilize Google Sheets. There are many variables when planning a move so instead of relying on your potentially-running-on-overdrive-thanks-to-all-the-change brain to remember everything, start keeping track in Google Sheets. You can use formulas to tally costs, project budgets, make checklists, and organize it on separate tabs. It’s also a great opportunity to brush up on your Excel/GSuite skills. If you need more help, check out the resources provided from Simmons in the Technology Competencies Guidelines which was emailed out to students in mid-June. 
  2. Choose your mode of transport wisely. From bouncing around for three days on a hard seat in a 12-mile-to-the-gallon-gas-guzzling U-Haul to paying a company to transport a not-quite-water-tight crate while still needing to transport myself to Boston to shipping everything and flying to driving-and-buying once I arrived, I reviewed all the options for how to get myself and my belongings to my new home city. By comparing these options on my spreadsheet, I found a balance between costs of money, time, and mind that worked best for me. I realized that if I packed all of my belongings except furniture into my family’s car, paid for four nights of hotels (two there and two back for the family that drove with me), food on the road, and parking in Boston, it would still only be half the cost of the next most affordable option. This then left me with enough money to purchase the basic furniture I could not fit in my car. (There’s an IKEA in Stoughton and a trove of excellent secondhand and thrift shops throughout Boston.) Since I grew up taking ten-hour road trips multiple times a year to visit family, the “cost” of the time on the road was one I was willing to pay. This travel mode worked best for me, but I only figured that out by researching, pricing, and comparing every possible method – I even checked out Amtrak trains. Take an afternoon now to find what works best for you and your budget. 
  3. Book your hotel rooms today. Better yet, build a time machine and go back three months to book them. Even in June some hotels were sold out for the dates I needed. Don’t blow your budget by not planning or force yourself into the sad march along the highway until you find a hotel with a vacancy. 
  4. Explore America. While the idea of exploring (or any other type of stopping for non-essentials) may sound counter-productive when you have many miles to cover, I encourage you to still make time to visit an historical site or natural landmark as part of your journey. Traveling through New England? Pick an American Revolutionary War site or memorial. Traveling through the mid-Atlantic or South? Stroll through a state national forest. Even better, visit a Native American site. Especially if you are driving through Georgia, there are so many fascinating places to better educate yourself about the people who first lived on this continent. Traveling through the Southwest? Again, visit a Native American site. Traveling through the Midwest? Find a gorgeous lake to walk around. I planned my stop for Ohio to visit Serpent Mound, a massive earthwork in the shape of a coiled serpent constructed sometime between 300 BC and 1500 AD (radiocarbon dating has produced conflicting results over time) by either the Adena culture or the Fort Ancient culture. (For more information, visit Ohio History Connection.) I traveled through gorgeous farmland to reach the site, stretched my legs in the sunshine, and learned more about America’s earliest history. It did add an hour of time onto my journey, but I found it worth far more than the cost of the hour. 
  5. Space bags are your friend. Over-packing will not be. (Make sure to ask for the exact measurements of your closest before you hit the road.) Whether you opt for the travel, roll-and-go option or the vacuum-down style, you will have a car that you can see out the side and back windows, and you won’t feel like a sardine stuffed in with all the boxes, improving the quality of the trip. 
  6. Research parking in Boston. At the risk of stating the obvious, parking is expensive in Boston. If you know you will need to store your car for a day or two, a little research will keep your budget in check. I found a garage near my apartment that charged $25/day whereas the hotel parking lot across the street from that garage charged $40/day. The closer to the city center you are, the higher the prices become, peaking around $65/day. 
  7. Turn your gas-station stops into games. For every stop you take, find the most novel or most unappetizing or most state-specific or most choose-your-own-modifier item, snap a picture of it, and send it to a friend or family member back home. It makes for a quirky photo album of the journey and brings a sense of play and discovery into an otherwise boring, often-grimy activity. Notable discoveries from my trip include a packet of lime-only Skittles, a tube of pink-only Starbursts, and one rainbow, blue-mohawked, bulging-eyed, stuffed chihuahua guarding the till. 
  8. Grocery stores can feed you too! Most of us shop them weekly when we’re at home, but they are also a great alternative to yet another bean burrito, sugar-laced chicken nugget, or cardboard burger when on the road! If you prefer to eat nutrient dense (or just not only white- or beige-colored) foods, have specific dietary restrictions, or simply want to avoid feeling like a salt-logged potato by the end of your trip, opt for stopping at a grocery store along the highway. Picking up yogurt and topping with walnuts (either pre-packed or from the bulk-bin) and a canned coffee makes for a great breakfast whereas many shops have small soup-and-salad bars instore (if you aren’t feeling the whole hummus-and-carrots vibe) for a nourishing lunch. 

However you end up getting to Boston, whatever you learn, photograph, and eat along the way, I hope the physical journey can help start the psychological transition to a new rhythm of life we are all about to learn. May the road rise to meet you; may the wind be at your back; may the sunshine warm your face. Welcome to Boston! 

A body of water with buildings in the background

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