Congratulations! The decision to take the plunge and travel for an extended period or with no end date has been made. You’re feeling excited and nervous about the adventures that await. Then reality hits and it dawns on you everything you will need to do before you can set off. Exploring destinations (this is the best bit), sorting out your finances, how you will fund your trip, possibly you have a house to sell or tenant and then there is the mammoth task of packing up your house to travel and deciding what is the best long term storage option for your belongings.

Below is your comprehensive guide with steps and tips to help you tackle the task of packing up your home and deciding on the best storage option for your household items while you are away.

Packing up your house to travel

Packing Up Your House To Travel | Where To Start?

Acknowledge The Size Of The Task To Be Undertaken

The task of sorting and packing up everything you own is not simple or quick task, actually it is very much the opposite and can feel overwhelming and daunting. The best thing to do is acknowledged how you feel and know that there are ways to deal with your emotions at this time. Also know that with some planning, action and time, eventually, bit by bit the task of packing up your house can be achieved. Our tips will also help you.

As someone who has moved house and packed up to travel I am here to tell you the two have similarities but also distinct differences. The biggest difference is trying to balance living day to day in your home until your departure and all the time packing up as well. Is it a whole lot of deciding things you never knew were things to decide like when is the best time to box or give away the toaster? How long should everyone be sitting on camp chairs because the lounge needs to be sold for the travel fund? It is a balancing act and it can be incredibly stressful.

Biggest Decision | Keep Or Discard A Household Of Belongings?

By far the biggest and most important decision to make is – will you keep most of your household belongings and put them into storage or will you get rid of as much as you can and only holding on to a few sentimental and irreplaceable items like your family photos?

There are a few things to consider that can help when making this decision:

The answers to the above questions can help you decide what is the best decision in your circumstances. Take your time answering them, this is a big decision.

Start As Soon as Possible

Once you have decided if your plan is to keep or get rid of the bulk of your belongings start. It is a process that is time consuming which takes longer than you think. Start as soon as possible as leaving it will only add to your stress.

Starting just has to be one drawer, a cupboard, a section of the garage. It doesn’t matter where you start it just matters that you do.

Long term storage options

Explore Your Storage Options

Generally the options available to most of us for storing our belongings while we travel are:

Each option has its pros and cons to be considered:

Source Boxes and Create A Packing Space

Tell and ask everyone you know you need boxes. Whether you are keeping or getting rid of most of your belongings, you are going to need boxes. The other option is to buy moving boxes or an alternative long term storage containers such as plastic boxes.

Packing up your home takes space. Space to sort through things, space to keep packing items like boxes, markers, paper and tape and space for packed boxes or containers. Decide where in your home is the best space. Somewhere it is practical and is going to cause the least inconvenience. A spare room is ideal otherwise try using an out of way section of a room like the far end of your dining room.

Long term storage options

Tips For Packing Up Your House

Six and More Months Before Departure

Purge | Cull and Minimise

Preparing to move out of your house to travel is a prime time for purging. We all accumulate things over the years that we don’t use, love or need. A useful start six months or more before your departure date is go through your house getting rid of all the things that never get used or have been waiting to be discarded such as the juicer in the back of the kitchen cupboard, the old lawn mower that never got fixed or the left over renovation materials that have been sitting around waiting to go to the tip for years. Even if you are keeping most of your belongings it’s not worth paying or using up storage space for things you don’t want or need.

This is also the time to cull and minimise what you own. Reduce the amount of clothes, linen, DVDs, kitchen items, tools and so on that you. Continue to have what you need to function day to day in your life but without the excess.

Pack the first lot of boxes with your absolutely will be keeping but have no function such as your photo albums, your collection of keepsakes made for you by your children or grandchildren and so on.

Decide If You Love it? Is It Replaceable?

It can helpful to start looking at your belongings through the lens of “do I love it?” or “is it something that can’t be replaced or the cost of replacing would be more than the storage cost?” Unless the answer is a resounding yes to either of those questions then give serious thought to getting rid of it.

Ultimately what you are deciding is “do you love this item enough to pay the cost of long term storage and will be excited to unpack it one day in the future?”

My tip is tart with items you:

Try to be as ruthless as you can. Remember what is left will still need to be sorted and packed or discarded later.

Two to Four Months Before Departure

Reduce | More Culling and Minimising

The objective now is to pack up or get rid of the majority of what you own. This is when you make do with the bare essentials needed to operate day to day until you leave on your adventure. It is things like:

At this time you should be seeing:

Personally I found this to be the most exciting time as it made the entire process seem real. It was also liberating learning how little we could survive with and how freeing it was not to have so much stuff to look after.

Tape Up Boxes or Get Rid Of Items ASAP

Pretty much the most frustrating thing to happen in this entire process to find things you have boxed for storage or to go, being unpacked with the help of a spouse or child. Having to re-sort or re-box something is frustrating! So my tips are:

Decide And Finalise Your Storage Option

By now you should have done any of the following that you consider to be a storage option for you:

Now it is time to decide what option you will use and start with the necessary arrangements. Book in your storage unit, will you need to do anything to clean out or prepare the space at friend, family or on your own property? Purchase the shipping container and make sure it can be delivered in a timely manner.

Non of this you want to leave too long.

One Month Before Departure

The End Is Near | Persevere

This final month, after months and months of sorting, packing and getting rid of stuff can feel like a drag. Along the way excitement and anticipation for the travelling adventures that await you have grown and yet there is still stuff in your home to deal with. As someone who has done it, I can empathise. Be patient with yourself and the tasks that remain. There will be an end.

Final Riddance

By now you have adapted to living and functioning with very minimal items but soon enough in the last month this stuff has to go.

It is also the time for getting rid of the last of any rubbish you have. By clearing up around and in our house we had a few trailer loads that went to our local waste facility.

Consider Moving Out Of Your Home

Moving out of your home especially in the final few days can be useful and potentially reduce everyone’s stress levels. Consider moving into your caravan or camper trailer in your yard or staying in a motel or with friends or family.

An indicator it maybe time is when everyone’s mattresses have to moved into storage or discarded. Obviously everyone needs somewhere to sleep.

Move Items Into Storage

Storage unit prices or availability of storage space at your home or at a friend or family’s place are likely to determine exactly when you move your belongings into storage. Try to give yourself at least a few days to a week.

Plan and organise how you are going to move everything into storage. This is essential if you are needing to move large bits of furniture and need to hire a trailer or truck to do the job.

Long term storage option

Packing | Belongings To Be Kept

Enviably pretty much everyone ends up having possessions that need to be stored, some more than others. Regardless how much stuff you are putting into storage it is essential they are given the best chance of surviving remembering of course they could be in storage for a number of years. 

How to store household items long term:

What To Do With items You Don’t Want?

Sell Them

Why not make some cash to go towards your travel funds? 

Start selling your stuff sooner rather than later. You’re more likely to get a better price for things when you are not trying to get rid of them last minute.

Also selling stuff is time consuming but for the right stuff can be well worth it. Some tips when selling online:

We were able to make some decent money on things we sold. It definitely got harder to get good offers the closer it got to our departure date as it became more and more necessary to get of stuff. We basically gave away our second car because practically we needed it until just days before we left and had to take the first low ball offer we got.

Donate Or Give Away

By donating or giving items away you prevent things going to land fill and you can feel good about being charitable and helping others out.

Like when selling start giving away items sooner rather than later. The process of giving and donating stuff is also time consuming plus if you don’t want it why not get rid of it quickly and reduce the clutter in your home?

Throw It Away

After all your best efforts to sell, give away and donate your unwanted belongings there are going to be things that are no use to anyone else and can only be considered rubbish. It is important to dispose of your rubbish responsibly:

When Packing Up Your House Is Done!

Finally! it is done. Every possession you owned is either packed away in storage or has been gotten rid of. Sincerely, well done! Take a moment and acknowledge what you have achieved.

I will never forget the moment what had been our family home for over 10 years was 100% completely empty (except for our detached garage which is our storage space). It was 4 am on morning our departure day. Honestly after more than two years travelling we do not miss anything we sold, gave away or threw out. Instead we feel an incredible sense of freedom, no longer held to or down by stuff. To this day I still find it liberating to know how little we need to get by and be content with what we have. 

Take note how you feel in the first days, weeks and months of your nomadic life. Do you start to miss your things or do you find yourself forgetting what you put in storage?

Happy travels and hopefully we will see you out there on the road one day.

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