So, you're planning a long-term trip and as a result you've decided that it's silly to keep paying the rent on an empty apartment. Congrats!
This is a big step towards freedom to travel as far and as wide as you wish. But there's a couple logistical things you should organize before you rush off on your adventures. Take a read through this post to gather some tips about how to prepare all your treasures behind while you head off the world!
Sort Your Stuff
Before departing on a big trip, taking the time to sort through all your belongings is important. Decide what you absolutely cannot let go of, what you can sell or donate and what really just needs to be recycled or thrown away.
Things to keep: furniture you love, clothes you love, keepsakes and memories, books, important documents, electronics, kitchen appliances
Things to donate or sell: clothes you no longer wear, furniture you no longer use, shoes you have outgrown
Things to give to friends/family: food (don't put any food in storage!), unused bathroom and makeup products
Things to recycle/throw away: expired food, expired products, extra packaging
After you have decided what it is that you are going to hold on, ensure you separate the things to store from the things you are taking with you on your travels. You have to be a bit more careful when packing for long-term storage in comparison to moving house or traveling, as the items are bound to be packed and untouched for an extended period of time.
- Don't put any perishable items with an expiry date into storage like food or bathroom products.
- Ensure all kitchenware is completely washed, clean and dry before packing; you don't want mildew to start growing out of the dampness.
- Wash all your clothes before putting them in storage; any lingering sweat or body odours will only multiply in storage.
- Wrap anything fragile in packing paper or paper towel to keep them safe.
- Store linens, pillows and towels in plastic tubs lined with packing paper to absorb extra moisture. Avoid using plastic bin bags; these just trap moisture and mold. Make sure all linens are thoroughly cleaned.
- Keep shoes in plastic tubs. Before packing, wash the shoes thoroughly to clean off mud, dirt and other things you may have picked up outside.
- Pack small! Take apart bed frames and shelves to take up as little amount of space as possible.
- Cover your mattress so that no dust, mold or bugs can get in!
- Pack books in small boxes only; they get far too heavy in anything bigger!
- Use wardrobe boxes for your clothes so as to keep them wrinkle-free while they remain untouched for an extended period of time.
Get Storage Insurance
Much like renter's insurance, storage insurance is a crucial part of keeping your things safe, especially while you're abroad. Speak with your broker to discuss rates based on your contents. Insurance storage differs from renter's insurance because it also accounts for the fact that there isn't a person keeping an eye on things regularly like you would at your home. It's also a good idea to get worldwide liability insurance for while you're traveling, should anything happen while you're gone.
Book Movers or a U-Haul
Once you've prepared everything to be put in your unit, either arrange for movers to help you with getting everything from your home to the unit and packed, or book a U-Haul to transport everything. I suggest booking your storage unit at least a week prior to your move-out date from your home so that you have ample time to transport and sort your belongings.
Make a List
Keep a detailed list of each box/tub/suitcase and what its contents are. Chances are you won't remember exactly what you put everywhere when you return from your travels and a detailed list can quickly help you find what you're looking for.
A master list should also be kept in the unit and sent to anyone who will have access to it so that, should they need to locate anything while you're away, it'll be an easy task.
Label every box clearly with a number system so you can keep track of what you have. Consider different numbers for marking which box has which items and use a sharpie to write down which box belongs in which room.
Book a Storage Unit
A storage unit is an incredibly practical and useful place to keep all your precious belongings while you're away. Before settling on a unit, ensure you do thorough research and visit a number of facilities to ensure you're picking the right one for you. I chose a unit that:
- has indoor unloading space
- has extremely high security
- has indoor units only
- is temperature controlled
- is large enough for my belongings
- is clean and well maintained
Once everything is packed away safely and securely, you have the space to do a thorough clean of your home.
- Clean all appliances inside and out including fridge, oven, dishwasher, etc.
- Pull the fridge and oven away from the wall and clean behind them
- Wash all floors including baseboards (carpets should be professionally cleaned)
- Wash all counter tops, sinks and tiles
- Thoroughly clean the bathroom (toilet, tub, sink, fan, cabinets, counters)
- Replace all burnt out light bulbs and clean light fixtures
- Wash patio/balcony
- Wash all windows and sidings
- Spot clean the wall
- Remove all garbage from your space
Then, hand over your keys and head off on your adventure!