What Do I Do With All My Stuff When I’m Out of the Country for 6 Months? 12 Months? Who Knows How Long?

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Traveling or moving abroad is an exciting milestone in your life to look forward to. You may be relocating to a new country to advance your career or education – or you may just want to de-stress by exploring someplace new!

While you should definitely look forward to the journey ahead, getting ready for international travel can be overwhelming; you may be so swamped with all the paperwork and budgeting that you forget an important aspect of moving away for an extended time-period – what should you do with all your stuff?

Depending on the quality and quantity of your possessions, you can choose different ways to declutter your space. To find out how you can manage your belongings before boarding that plane, keep reading!

Decide What to Keep and What to Discard!

Before you do anything else, you should first decide which belongings you’d like to bring along with you. Certain essentials are necessary for your safety and comfort when you’re traveling to an unfamiliar location, e.g., a small travel bag for day trips, a face/hand towel, a journal and some stationary, spare headphones, comfortable walking shoes, and clothing for weather protection (e.g., a sunhat or a rain jacket).

If you’re traveling for a specific purpose, certain belongings may help you get a kick-start, e.g., 2-3 essential textbooks if you’re planning to start an educational degree, your favorite stethoscope if you’re going to start training as a physician, etc. You’re likely to have collected many of these items at home – while they may all have been useful at some point, it’s important to sort which of them are truly irreplaceable and vital to your education/career abroad.

Finally, there may also be some mementos you want to keep as reminders of home! A well-worn book, an old hoodie, your best-loved perfume – you may not “need” these, but their presence can help you feel comfortable and relaxed.

Take inventory of everything in your room and categorize it into “Keep” and “Discard” lists. This will help you systematically decide what to do with each item.

Donate Your Stuff!

Once you’ve decided which items to discard, the next step is to decide how to discard them. If you don’t foresee much use of these items when you come back, you can simply donate them. This option is best for old clothes, shoes, books, bags, linens, and even kitchenware!

So where can you donate? First, try local shelters in your area. If you want to donate kitchenware, you can also contact local soup kitchens. Shelters/soup kitchens house and feed homeless, indigent populations in need of support – your donations can be valuable resources to help them carry out their mission!

If you can’t get hold of any local shelters, larger charity organizations are always available. A Goodwill Op Shop or a Salvation Army donation center will be happy to accept your donation, and may even offer to pick it up from your house if you live nearby.

If you’d like to get rid of your belongings while also safeguarding the environment, consider donating to a recycling company, civic amenity site, or bring bank. Pro-tip: make sure to call your chosen organization and ask them if they accept the specific items you’re donating. This will save you a trip if they refuse certain items due to safety reasons.

Finally, ask your friends and family! They may be moving to a new home themselves, and may benefit from the things you’re leaving behind!

Sell Your Stuff!

If you’re short on cash, selling your belongings is a great way to de-clutter and expand your budget at the same time. Provided that they’re in usable condition, you can bargain with local second-hand shops or thrift stores to take them off your hands.

If you don’t have time to go looking for in-person stores, you can avail online options. Second-hand selling websites like eBay and Amazon are free, easy to navigate, and usable from the convenience of your home, making them popular among buyers and sellers alike. Online marketplace sales account for 67% of global e-commerce – meaning that you’ll have plenty of prospective buyers if you advertise items-for-sale here!

You can even make a day out of the experience and organize a garage sale! Not only will this allow you to sell your things in bulk, but you can also interact with your buyers and make sure your belongings are going to the right people.

Store Your Stuff Away!

If your time abroad is limited to just a few months and you don’t want to give away your prized possessions, you’re left with one other option – store them away!

Ideally, you’ll want to leave your stuff with someone you trust. If your parents, siblings or close friends have storerooms/spare bedrooms on their property, ask if they’re willing to lend you their space for temporary storage. If not, reach out to a professional storage company for help. By signing up with services like MakeSpace and Clutter, you can take advantage of packing supplies delivered by the company to your home, have the company transport your packed belongings to a storage unit, and schedule a pick-up/return as soon as you reach home again.

These services provide an inexpensive, reliable way to keep your belongings safe during your trip overseas. Use online tools to search for storage companies that operate in your city and look up reviews from previous users to decide which service is the best fit for you.

To Sum it Up

Whether your journey abroad is a short-term vacation or a longer stint, leaving your home behind is always nerve-racking. Heading out for new horizons is part of life, but don’t forget to safeguard the things that defined your life back home! Deciding what to keep and giving/putting away the rest can be a nostalgic experience – take charge of it, embrace it, and look forward to the journey ahead!

Dan McCabe
Dan McCabe

Long time remote worker with the dream of enabling everyone to join the remote workforce. Owner and Editor of caniworkfromhere.com.

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