What to Do With All Your Stuff When You Travel

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Before you embark on a trip around the world (or some period of extended travel) it’s a good idea to consider what you’re going to do with all of your things while you’re away.

What will you do with your car/motorbike? Who will look after your pets? If you’re planning on selling or renting out your home, what will you do with all of your possession?

Of course, the answers to these questions will be different for everyone, and will depend on how long you’re going away for, what you plan to do when you get back and your current situation (i.e. do you live near a family member who could take care of your guinea pig for you while you’re gone?)

Nevertheless, here are some things to consider:

What to Do With Your Possessions

Have a Clear Out
This is the perfect time to have a proper clear out and get rid of all the things you no longer have any use for (or as Tim Ferriss puts it: “It’s the perfect excuse to reverse the damage of years of consuming as much as you can afford”).

Of course, there will be a lot of items that you use regularly or that you simply want to keep for sentimental reasons or because you like them. That’s fine, but a lot of the stuff that people own (I’d say over 80%) won’t be missed a whole lot, or can be easily replaced.

I recommend separating your possessions into 3 piles:

  • Things you want to keep (the ‘YES’ pile)
  • Things you want to sell/throw away/get rid of (the ‘NO’ pile)
  • Things you aren’t sure about yet (the ‘MAYBE’ pile)

Deciding to throw away even the tiniest thing can be tough at first, especially if you spent your hard earned money buying it.

At first you’ll spend 15 minutes deciding which pair of jeans to throw away and it’ll feel like choosing which of your children gets to live or die. This pain at the start will slowly disappear, however, and you’ll quickly feel liberated and refreshed by all the space you’ve managed to create.

Note that it’s especially important to have a clear out if you’re moving out (possibly so you can rent out your house), as you’ll need to put your stuff into storage or leave it at a friend’s house.

Getting Rid of Your Stuff
So you’ve decided to get rid of some stuff… now you need to work out HOW you’re going to get rid of it.

You could just throw it all away, but that’s a little wasteful, and there’s bound to be plenty of things you can sell and make a little money from.

Of course, you won’t be able to sell everything, so separate out the things that can be sold and the things that need to be sold/given away.

Of the things you CAN sell, the best way to get rid of them is to put them on Ebay, Craig’s List or to hold a garage sale (or a car boot sale). Take advantage of the fact that we live in a culture where people like collecting and hoarding possessions. You’d be surprised at what people will happily buy at garage sales!

Selling off the stuff you don’t need will give you extra funds for your trip, or a nice nest-egg for when you return home.

For the things you can’t sell that are still in good condition (and none of your friends or family want), give them away to charity.

For more information on living with only what you need, check out this article titled: How to travel light.

Putting it into Storage
If you own your home and you plan on selling it or renting it out, you’re going to need to store your stuff somewhere while you’re away. If you’re renting an apartment and you’re going traveling for a long time, there’s no point you paying rent while you’re away, so you might want to wait until the contract is up or cancel the rental agreement.

Either way, you may find yourself with a lot of possessions and nowhere to keep them. In this case you might want to consider putting them into storage.

Finding a storage unit shouldn’t be a problem if you live in (or near to) a city, as there are plenty of them about.

An alternative to paying to rent out a storage unit is to store your things in a friend’s/family member’s house (possible in their loft/basement). Naturally, if someone’s doing this as a favor to you, you won’t want to take advantage of them by filling up their entire house with your junk, so it’ll give you even more incentive to get rid of the clutter that you don’t need (but can’t bear to throw away).

For Rent

What to Do With Your Home While You’re Away

If you own your own home (as opposed to just renting an apartment), you’ve probably already thought a lot about what you’ll do with your home when you’re away.

If you intend to come back and live in the same city when you return, it makes sense to rent out your home instead of selling it.

This way you’ll be able to leave a lot of your possessions there still (meaning you won’t have to pay for storage) and you’ll earn a tidy income on the side.

Alternatively, you might want to consider selling your house. This is a pretty radical move (to sell your house and not buy another one), but for those who want to travel for an extended period of time and aren’t sure where they want to live in the future (as they may decide to live abroad), it can seem like the right decision.

If you don’t want to sell your house and aren’t renting it out to anyone (possibly because you can’t find anyone to rent it to or because you don’t want to have to move all of your stuff out), you’ll have to get someone to housesit for you while you’re away.

This will involve them coming round every now and then to water the plants, pick up the mail and keep your home in order.

Note that burglars may target homes that are unattended, so don’t leave any expensive looking items on show for them.

What to Do With Your Car

If you own a car, you’ll have to make decision as to what you’re going to do with it when you’re off traveling the world.

What you decide to do can often be impacted by a variety of factors, such as:

  • Do you intend on using it when you return?
  • How much is it worth (i.e. what type of car is it, how old is it and what condition is it in)?
  • Are you moving out of your home (or renting it out) while you’re away?
  • Do you have a place where you can keep your car safely while you’re away (such as a garage or a friend’s driveway)?

If your car is in good condition and could fetch a good price, it might be worth selling it and buying a new one when you return, as it’ll only be sitting there depreciating in value while you’re away.

If your car is a bit of an old banger and not worth a lot, you might want to hang onto it (providing you’ve got somewhere you can store it).

Another option is to rent out your car (or lend it for free) to a family member while you’re gone. They’ll keep it in good condition and then return it to you once you’re back. This strategy works particularly well if you still owe money on your car, as they can pick up the monthly payments while you’re away.

Pets

What to Do With Your Pets

Long-term travel can be a problem for pet owners, as you can’t realistically take your pets around the world with you.

You won’t be able to leave your pets at home as normal (unless there are other housemates there that don’t mind looking after them), so you may need to find someone else to look after them (such as a good friend or a family member).

This is not a commitment that should be taken lightly, so think very carefully about why you leave your pets with (especially if you want to see them again!)

Remember also that most people will view looking after your pets as a massive favor (as it is), so be sure to either pay them for their services or be sure to buy them a big gift upon your return.

Another option is to move your pet to some kind of kennel/cattery while you’re gone (depending on the type of animal you). If you’re going away for a long time, however, these can work out being pretty expensive, so they’re best left as a last resort.

Checklist: What to Do With All Your Stuff When You Travel

  1. Start assessing your possessions. Ask yourself “Do I really need this?”
  2. Start sorting things into one of three piles (Definitely Keep, Definitely Get Rid Of, Maybe Get Rid Of).
  3. Work out what you want to sell and what you want to throw/give away.
  4. Start putting things on Craig’s List, Ebay or organize a garage sale.
  5. Give away the things you can’t sell to charity (i.e. to a charity shop).
  6. Decide what you’re going to do with your home when you’re away (if anything).
  7. Research storage options if necessary, or ask friends if they can look after your things.
  8. Make a decision regarding your vehicle (if you have one). Will you sell it or keep it (and possibly rent it out to a family member)?
  9. Work out what you’re going to do with your pet (if you have one). If you can’t find a friend or family member to look after it for you, look into other options (such as a kennel or a cattery).

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