Preparing For a Year Abroad – Figuring “Stuff” Out

Bianca and I have been fortunate to have been accepted in Remote Year, a program that takes 75 people around the world to travel and work remotely. This is our itinerary.

We’re definitely excited but the process of preparing for an extended period of traveling can be daunting. How much stuff should we bring? What happens if we get sick? Where should we forward our mail? When should we even start preparing?!

Obviously everyone has different situations, but we’d like to share what our experience was like preparing for our big trip and hopefully you’d find this helpful.

I’ll be writing about the topic of preparing for traveling across several posts. This first one is about what we did with our belongings.

Figuring “stuff” out

Since we wanted to save money and space for storage, we decided to go through all of our things and get rid of the non-essentials. Basically, things that we could easily replace when we get back from traveling, and stuff that should’ve been thrashed a loooooooonnng time ago.

…like my impressive collection of Wired Magazines since 2008:

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First, we individually figured out what we needed (legal documents) and wanted (electronics, clothes, sentimental things, etc.) to keep. Once we created that pile, we further tried to limit everything in 4 24” x 19” x 15” plastic bins each. As you might guess, not everything fit so through process of elimination we had to let go of some stuff we wanted to keep.

“We just need some time apart” hack: try to put clothes you rarely wear but don’t quite yet want to throw away in a bin and store it somewhere. After a few weeks you’ll slowly let go of that attachment and soon realize how much you don’t need it anymore.

We then posted a lot of our valuables for sale on Craigslist—this included our bikes, our dressers, and our couches. Both our bikes and our dressers sold fairly quickly but our couches took some time to find new homes; we eventually sold one to the person moving into our apartment, and the other couch will be staying at a friend’s house for the time being.

Craigslist quickly proved to be untenable for the other items we wanted to sell because of the lengthy process it takes to post an item and how difficult it is to manage conversations with different people for different items we were selling.

Also, is it really worth the effort putting up a used triathlon suit on Craigslist??

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Because of this, we decided to go with an alternative option: OfferUp. OfferUp has a couple million users and was highly recommended by a friend. Communication between buyer & seller happens within the app and the process of posting something for sale was much easier than Craigslist. Using OfferUp, we were able to sell things like our TV, a professional lighting set, and even an air mattress.

We also had one other bulky valuable that would be tricky to sell given our time constraints: our car. Thankfully, a friend of ours was open to renting it for the next several months so we decided to lend it them. That was easy enough!

…well, sort of.

2 nights before our trip, someone decided to break into our car. We were able to get the window fixed first thing in the morning and nothing really valuable was stolen but still, that was another thing we had to worry about on top of everything else.

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Why world? Why?

Lastly, we decided to have a yard sale for various items around the house. We had two, in fact.

We posted several signs around our block about our yard sale as well as a well-written Craigslist ad by B about our upcoming yard sales.

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The first yard sale ended up being a flop. I guess I should’ve known that it would be when I decided to schedule the yard sale at 8 am on a Sunday. To our surprise though, there were 2 very eager shoppers that showed up at our door at 7:50 am. I was still half-asleep when I greeted them and told them to wait for a few minutes. They spent quite some time rummaging through our stuff as if they knew exactly what was valuable and if they took the time to sell it themselves, they could make a decent profit. Unfortunately, as expected, these guys were only willing to pay for stuff for no more than a tenth of what we were asking for. One seemed upset when I asked for $20 for a tablet that was in really good condition. Geez.

Our second yard sale went a lot better. We sold more items and even got to know a few of our neighbors. Score!

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5 days before leaving the country, we decided to give away the rest of our stuff to friends. A few friends came by but our friend Claire was the one who “Claire’d” us out (thanks Claire!).

Now that we’ve sold a big portion of our belongings and have stored stuff that we’ll come back to, we’re left with the essentials that we’re bringing with us to our trip—all of which can fit in a backpack and a roller bag. I know some hardcore travel minimalists/backpackers are probably cringing and thinking “that’s still too much!”, but we’re leaving some space for stuff that we’ll acquire abroad.

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Several Craigslist/OfferUp posts, two yard sales, and a giveaway later, we’re much lighter and travel ready! We have considerably less, but somehow it feels like more.

Special thanks to our friends who made this process so much easier for us. We can’t say thank you enough!

  • Amy & Kyle
  • MG & Garreth
  • Hana & Mitchel
  • Izzy & Shaun
  • Claire, Yousra & YoYo Joe
  • Sachi
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2 thoughts on “Preparing For a Year Abroad – Figuring “Stuff” Out

  1. Pingback: All Kinds of Temple Prayer Things – Hopeless Nomadics

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