Extended travel is a popular option these days. From month long sabbaticals from the corporate rat race, to gap years for adults and HelpX volunteer exchange holidays. No matter how or why you’re travelling, the home you leave behind needs some care too, if everything is to stay safe and sound for your return.
If you plan on renting out your house while you’re away, you won’t want to leave your most treasured items in place for tenants to use. Many travellers choose this option as it helps pay for the trip. Options include house swapping, renting to holiday makers through facilitators such as AirBnB, or simply a traditional six month let through a letting agency.
Storage options for treasured items include asking friends to help, renting self storage rooms or lockers, or simply packing items away and putting them out of reach, such as in the loft. With the latter option, however, you run the risk of the tenant finding them and making free use.
Self storage offers the most secure method, since the rented areas are private and secure. For just a few boxes of valuables, large lockers are the cheapest option, but if you have furnishings you’d prefer to keep safe from damage, storage rooms are available in a variety of sizes. With terms running from just a week, they’re flexible enough to be convenient for most people. It’s worth noting that some self storage companies don’t have fixed terms. Rolling contracts from week to week are especially valuable if your trip is open ended and you’re not sure when you’ll return.
Preparing Items for Storage
Logistically, it’s easier if you separate travel packing from storage packing, and move stored items into wherever they’ll stay at least a few days before you depart. As you’ll need to provide an inventory of what items are left for tenants or holidaymakers, lists can kill two birds with one stone and so become less of a chore. Make two, one for what items you’re leaving in place and a second for the items you’ll store. It’ll help cut down on muddle and make the job go smoother, plus you’ll find that with some storage firms you’ll need to provide an inventory of items stored, so list making won’t be a wasted exercise.
Save space by dismantling large items you’re storing, such as dining tables, bed frames or flat packed desks and bookcases. Many traditional lets are on an unfurnished basis, so you may be faced with packing up the entire house, but it’s worth it if the trip is very much extended.
When it comes to boxed items, choose many small boxes over a few larger ones. Large boxes may hold more, but they’re heavier when full and harder to stack.
Packing is easier when you have everything to hand, so stockpile newspaper, tissue and bubblewrap for a few weeks before you start. Don’t forget parcel tape to close boxes, and a marker pen to label the outside of boxes with what they contain. On labelling, be specific. Don’t just write ‘kitchen things’, write ‘kettle and food processor’.
Make the Most of the Cloud
Photographers, arrange some kind of cloud storage for all the photos you’ll take while travelling. You could choose from any number of cloud storage providers, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, Adobe’s Creative Cloud and many more. It saves carrying around external hard drives or flash drives while freeing up space on mobile phone storage or camera memory cards. Some cloud storage is free, but may not give enough space if your images are large. Other providers charge a monthly fee, but many are reasonably priced.
Everyone should have copies of important documents such as life, travel, health, and car insurance, passport details, credit card numbers and bank account and contact numbers in case of emergency. Cloud storage is ideal for these too. You never know when an emergency may happen, and having access to these vital documents in digital form could save hours of headache tracking them down from people back home.
Decide on your provider and set things up before you leave, scanning or photographing documents then uploading the digital versions. Make sure you keep a copy of passwords and URLs just in case you forget.
Apart from those practical nitty gritty arrangements, try to get someone you trust to keep an eye on the place, even if it’s just a drive past now and then. The old saying of ‘there’s no place like home’ is always true, and you’ll be glad yours is taken care of, ready for when you come home.
Do you have any tips for storing your possessions before you travel? Tell us in the comments section below!