If you mention that you’re embarking on an extended travelling adventure, one of the first questions you’ll probably get asked is, “So, are you selling all of your stuff?”
For some people, the answer might be “Yes! Of course!” Some prefer to be unencumbered by physical possessions, traveling the world owning only what they can carry. And that’s a great way to travel.
I, however, love my stuff. That may not sound like a traveler mentality, but I’ve spent years collecting items from all over the world that remind me of the adventures I’ve had. From my Turkish rug to my Moroccan lanterns and Thai wood carvings, seeing these items every day brings back the joy and memories of those trips.
I’ve also spent years finding the perfect furniture to fit my style, which was not an easy task. The idea of selling everything and having to start over every time I end up back in the States for a while is an overwhelming thought to me.
Sure, I’m happy to live in a wooden shed with no electricity for a couple of months, or grab a bunk in a crowded hostel. But when I have an apartment of my own, I want it to feel like home.
Your stuff can seem like just stuff to someone else, but to you it can be very personal. Don’t feel like you have to sell everything just because “that’s what travelers do.” And don’t feel like you have to keep it as a backup, in case you change your mind or your plans don’t work out.
When it comes to your personal possessions, do what feels right to you.
Either way, there’s a bit of effort involved in preparing for travel. Here are some ideas to help:
If you want to sell:
Craigslist – Posting on Craigslist is a great way to sell your things, especially larger items like furniture that need to be picked up from your home. Just remember to take the necessary precautions to stay safe while using it.
Ebay – Another great way to sell things is on ebay. This allows you to reach a wider audience and is great for valuables or collectables that can bring in a higher price. Remember though that you will need to send these items to the winning bidder, so they should be relatively small and you should be prepared for the extra step of packing and mailing. If you’re new to ebay, here are some tips to help you get started.
Yard Sale – A good old fashioned yard sale is another great way to sell your things if you have a lot you want to get rid of and have the space to put it all out in your yard, driveway, or garage. Here are some tips to maximize your income from a yard sale.
Donate – If you don’t want to take the time to sell your things, or you have items in good condition that haven’t sold and you’re running out of time, you can always donate them to a charity that will distribute them to people in need. There are many organizations out there that will accept donations and some will even pick items up from you (usually only large furniture). Here’s a list of 101 organizations that accept donations, but also remember to check for local groups you may want to support as well.
If you want to store:
Storage Units – If you decide to keep your things in storage, be sure to check around for the best price. Prices fluctuate almost daily and units a few miles apart can be significantly different in price. If you live in the middle of a city, consider looking for a storage unit that’s further out of town. It adds a little bit of extra work on the days you are moving in and out, but it can save you a lot of money every month in payments. Check out these additional points to consider as well.
Friends/Family – Depending on how much storage you need, leaving your things with friends or family members could be a great low-cost solution. Do your parents have a spare bedroom you could use to store some boxes? Does a friend have room in their basement? If you’re going to be gone for an extended time, it’s probably best to pick a friend or family member who is unlikely to move while you’re away, since you don’t know if their new space will also be able to accommodate these extra items.
Storage Insurance – If you decide to keep your possessions in a storage unit, you will probably be required to have insurance, protect you from loss or damage caused by theft, insects, or natural disasters. Most storage facilities offer insurance for a pretty low price ($5-$15/month) but you can also check with your bank or other insurance provider for outside plans. If you are keeping your things with friends or family, you have more flexibility in whether or not to purchase coverage. Be aware that your possessions will not automatically be covered by their policy just because they are being stored in their house. You may be able to add this coverage, but your friend or family member would need to speak to their insurance provider to discuss the specifics of their plan.
Whether you sell or store, knowing that your possessions are handled before you leave will give you peace of mind while you’re away.
What are some other tips or tricks you’ve used while you were traveling? Let me know in the comments.