One of the hardest parts of relocation and travel is figuring out what to do with the things you leave behind.
If you’re like most families, your home is jam-packed with clothes, books and toys—not to mention photo albums, financial records and other must-keep documents. However, you can’t take these things with you while you travel, and although a yard sale is a popular option for reducing the amount of your stuff, you’re unlikely to sell everything.
What do you do with your stuff when you need to leave it behind? Here are three ideas:
1. Hire a reputable housesitter
The first option when going on an extended trip is to hire a housesitter. Unlike a sublettor, this person is specifically hired to manage your home and belongings while you are away. The housesitter gets to live in your home in exchange for managing the yard, caring for your pets and keeping your house sparkling clean. A housesitter works best for relocations under one year, and there are many reputable housesitting services online. If you prefer, hire someone you know, such as a local student or a couple just getting started. Many young people appreciate the opportunity to live in a well-kept home at a reduced rental rate.
The advantage of hiring a housesitter is that you are able to leave your home without selling or storing your belongings. You are also able to travel knowing that you will not come back to a flooded basement or vermin-infested kitchen.
The disadvantage of a housesitter is the possibility that he or she will steal or damage your property while you are away. However, if you do your homework and choose a sitter who has been thoroughly vetted, this is unlikely to happen.
2. Store your belongings
Whether you plan to rent out your home or move out completely, you’ll need a place to store your belongings while you are away. Friends of ours in Fort. Lauderdale, Florida were renting storage from Unclebobs.com – as it is one of the easier ways to avoid spending extra money on rent when taking your children on extended overseas trips. They stored their belongings while taking their family on a two-year travel adventure. They also earned extra money by renting their house until they returned.
The advantage of storing your belongings is that they are kept in a climate-controlled, secure storage unit until the time comes for you to retrieve them.
The disadvantage of storing your belongings? Nobody likes the moving process and while renting storage is cheaper than continuing to pay rent or possibly paying a housesitter, you will have to double move (to the unit—then again to wherever you are moving). Of course, you can always use the money you save by putting your stuff in storage to pay some strapping young guys to do it for you.
3. Embrace minimalism
If you are planning to fully relocate to another country or to travel the globe with your family for several years, it’s time to embrace the minimalist life. A traveler quickly figures out that the important things are the ones that can be carried in a single backpack. So have the yard sale and get rid of everything. Your work clothes will be out of style when you get back, your kids will have outgrown their toys, and your book and DVD collection can always be replaced at the local library. Take the few key documents like the wedding photo album and the birth certificates and send them to Grandma and Grandpa’s house; then hit the road with no more than the packs on your back.
The advantage of the minimalistic life is that you truly discover how little you need to be happy. Kellen Kaiser has written about how babies only need five items to thrive; you’ll learn that you and your family also only need very few belongings.
The disadvantage? Depending on your children, expect a lot of tears during the yard sale process. While it’s just stuff to you, to them, it’s their whole life. Consider asking relatives to store a few extra toys or belongings until you get back; even if your child will have outgrown them by then, keeping them allows you to show your children that their possessions are important and that you value their needs.
How have you handled your belongings when you’ve traveled? Let us know in the comments.