Having made the decision to take an extended trip, you’ve likely spent weeks if not months poring over maps and destination guides. You’ve probably also been saving like mad and have arranged a sabbatical from your job. This is the exciting part when everything is new and the world is your oyster. You can go anywhere, do anything, budget permitting of course.
Now you’ve made those important decisions, the nitty gritty details of what you’ll do with your home and possessions need attending too. You wouldn’t leave the trip itinerary until the last minute, and you shouldn’t leave safeguarding the home front to the last minute either.
By now you probably know exactly how long you’ll be away. Certainly, if you have a job to come back to, your traveling time is less flexible than if, say, you’re self employed or freelance and can work digitally. As soon as possible, turn your thoughts to how you’ll arrange your home security, for both your possessions and the actual bricks and mortar. There are two main options:
- Lock up and batten down the hatches then get friends or family to keep an eye on things
- Rent your house out so you have some income while you’re gone.
Obviously the last option is only possible if you’re going for six months or more, unless you can arrange a private let to a friend. This is an option if you’re employing a pet or house sitter. Whichever route you take, start planning early. If you’re simply locking up, are you comfortable leaving all your possessions in situ or would you feel more secure if the most valuable items were under safer lock and key? If you’re hiring a pet or house sitter, leave plenty of time for searching and vetting your prospects so you feel at peace leaving them in your home while you’re gone. If you’re taking on a stranger, checking references takes time.
Renting Out Your Home
For longer trips, home rentals are an excellent idea. Short term lets run for six months minimum, and the easiest route is to ask a letting agent to find suitable short term tenants. They will do all the checking, deal with the finances, and keep an eye on both tenant and property through inspections and organising running repairs if necessary. Decide early on if you’ll let furnished, unfurnished or part furnished. A letting agent can advise if you’re unsure which option is best suited to your needs. Regardless of which way you go on this, there will be some items you don’t want to leave in general use. For those, whether you have just a few personal items or a more sizeable load that includes some furniture, self storage is your best bet. Local and convenient, self storage units are available in a multitude of sizes, enabling you to store everything from a few boxes to a whole household. The terms are flexible too, with no long contracts, so you can come and go more or less to suit yourself. Most will only ask for a week’s notice when it comes time to reclaim your possessions.
Start early. The more stuff you’re putting into storage the longer you’ll need so plan accordingly. Use sturdy boxes, and fill them as full as possible without making them too heavy (a tip here is to use more smaller boxes than fewer large ones). If you’re using a removal company to help you move bulky items into storage, keep in touch with them so they know well in advance if there are likely to be any changes to your plans. Also, ask them how they want to load your items so you can arrange to have them carried out of the house in the right order without having to climb over other things. If you’re getting friends to help, give them plenty of warning, arranging dates and times well in advance. It’s a lot of work and preparation, but by starting early and making checklists for decisions, packing, removals and storage you can avoid unnecessary stress. At the end of it all, you’ll set off with a clear head and no nagging worries. Bon Voyage!
Drew writes for Big Yellow Self Storage. See their website for more about storage and removals.