Editor’s Note: Even if you aren’t planning to ditch all your possessions to run away from home, you can use this strategy to plan for downsizing your home, preparing a relative to move into an assisted living facility, getting a child ready for college, or just simplifying an overly cluttered life.
When you decide to take an extended trip around the world you have to account for the belongings that stay behind.
- Do you get rid of them?
- Do you put them in storage?
- Can someone else take care of them while you are gone?
We’ve been thinking about the options and what we’ll do with a townhouse, furniture, artwork, 2 pets, a car, and more books than a small town library. Below is the plan we have in place to whittle it down to 1 suitcase each. How would you do it?
- We are in the process of refinancing our home in order to get a lower monthly mortgage payment. We chose this option because the softer housing market may not allow us to sell our home before we leave. By decreasing our house payment, we will be able to rent it at about a breakeven price and even be able to afford property management services while we are gone. Our investment is secure, the tenants will be taken care of, and we will have a home to return to. The closing costs for refinancing our home will be paid for in less than a year with the lower monthly payment.
- We are still open to selling our home if the right scenario comes along. Since our main issue with keeping the house was worrying about it on the road and paying the mortgage, the refinancing and ability to have a tenant and a property management company will likely resolve that. But we are flexible in this regard. Any money made from the sale of the home would be set aside as “re-entry” money and not used for the trip. If we sell long before we move, we should be able to rent for half of our mortgage payment and save additional funds for the trip.
- The car will be sold close to our travel date. The money will be set aside as “re-entry” money in case we need to buy another car. If we live in a city with good public transportation we may not need one, but it will be nice to have a downpayment if necessary.
- The furniture and household items like dishes and towels have 2 options: 1) they will be sold via Craigslist as we get close to our move date or donated to Goodwill, or 2) they will remain in our house if we decide to rent as temp housing for corporate relocations, which is a good option when you only want to rent your house for one year or so. Any large items sold go into the “re-entry money” fund.
- All artwork, jewelry, sentimental items and clothes not going on the trip will be put in storage. Because we plan to eliminate everything else through sale and/or furnished rental, this should be a very small storage space with a low monthly fee.
- The pets will be going to stay with good friends, and we have set aside money to give to them for food, vet bills, and general care.
- Photos and important documents will be scanned and stored on our laptop with an offsite automatic storage company. Any prints of sentimental value (old prints of my great-grandparents, for example) will be sent to our families for safekeeping.
- Large sentimental items that won’t fit in storage – like the large bookcases my father made – will be driven down to my family in New Mexico for safekeeping. To make the most of the time on the road, I’ll ask my brothers to fly up and take the trip with me so we can spend some time together before we leave. We’ll get to see a lot of the United States that way!
- All the remaining items – books, golf clubs, furniture we no longer need, a fake Christmas tree, etc. – will be sold/donated starting now. In fact, my dear Husband has already sold a dresser, golf clubs, and the tree. By doing this a little bit at a time now, it will not seem so overwhelming before our big trip. And it will make it easier to adjust to less when the process is gradual. This money goes toward the trip, since we don’t plan to reclutter when we return.
- As we travel for the next 18 months we will be using the carryon bag test – if we can’t get through a a week with one bag each, how will we do it for one year? The first test is in January when I visit my family for a week.
Leaving on an around-the-world adventure is going to be exciting and a little bit stressful (in a good way). We want to make sure that the details surrounding our departure are as clean and simple as possible, and having a plan now will help us do that.
What suggestions do you have to make our plan better?