One of the only hard things about preparing for long-term travel is getting rid of my STUFF.
I would love to be one of those natural backpackers. You know, the ones who don’t feel the need to own too much in the first place, and ideally not more than what they can carry across town on their backs.
But I’m not.
My very favorite things are wildly impractical. What will I do with my vintage yellow wool cape? What about my velvet hat with feathers and a net veil? What if I miss my matchbook collection? It sounds ridiculous, but it’s honestly tough to think about paring down my possessions.
But: buying a one-way ticket to a new place calls for a new attitude. I don’t have to say goodbye to absolutely everything, but I don’t want to feel tied down either, and I definitely don’t want to pay for storage. At the risk of sounding all graduation speech-y (forgive me), I don’t want my 20s to be about stuff. I have a lifetime ahead of me to have a house full of furniture, but I don’t have forever to travel. So, I’m shooting to get rid of everything I can live without, and I’m going to be brutal.
So what am I doing with it all?
1. Anything that’s worth any money I’ll put on Craigslist. That means a secondhand BBQ grill, two hand-me-down couches, and a few chairs. Even if they just go for a couple of bucks, I won’t have to move them, which is nice since I don’t have a car. If I get ambitious, I’ll see if I can sell things on eBay.
2. I’ll try to get rid of the smaller things in a garage sale. One of my roommates is moving in late July also, so we’re going to hold one jointly and see if anybody shows up. The rest will go to Goodwill.
3. Clothes will go to Buffalo Exchange and a women’s shelter.
4. Anything I absolutely can’t live without, or anything that will cost more to replace than to move, goes to my parents’ basement in Colorado.
My advice for making it all easier:
1. Think about how long you’re going to be gone. If it’ll be a while, chances are that when you get back, you’ll see things differently. Are you keeping anything you won’t like by the time you dig it out of storage? Anything you’ll consider hideous in a few years?
2. If you know someone else will actually use it, it’s easier to give away. Donating some work clothes to a charity or womens’ shelter will help someone else, and for me at least, probably doubles the amount I want to part with. Same goes for things your friends might want – would you feel better about giving things away if they found good homes with people you know?
3. Well before starting your trip, start a box in the basement. Anything you’re on the fence about giving away, stick in the box. Giving yourself the option to be ruthless now and then rescue it later can help you get rid of more. A couple of weeks later, see if you miss anything.
4. Selling things is a good way to fund your trip – obviously!