A house full of it

Once you decide to sell your house or cancel your rent, one very important question quickly crops up.

What will you do with all your stuff? 

If this question crosses your mind every time you think of travelling, then our story will either freak you out or help you on your way. We took the drastic route, but the sense of freedom we gained in exchange is worth every cent we lost on reselling our things.

Before we went travelling, we owned a three-bed terraced house in Arnhem, the Netherlands. We lived there for ten years and managed to fill every nook and cranny it had to offer. Once the decision to travel was made, it soon became apparent that living in a camper would seriously cramp our style. Would we put everything in storage for (if and) when we come back? We decided this was not an option; we want life on the road to be as cheap as possible and hiring a storage locker for such a long time would be a relatively large investment, one we were not willing to make. So, we went for the ‘keep only the essentials, ditch the rest’ option. This option involves considering the importance of every item you own. We managed to create quite a functional system that made the decision of what to take, what to keep and what to get rid of very (in some cases relatively) easy.

We started the process early on. From plan to execution, the preparation for this trip has taken us four years. A long while, but it did allow us ample time to mentally prepare ourselves. The camper we bought is a little ’88 Fiat Ducato with limited storage space, so we immediately started thinking about what we could bring with us. Some things are big but are also non-negotiable. Jasper’s guitar, for example, will definitely come along (we ultimately decided that my saxophone is not an ideal around the campfire instrument). Other essentials such as laptops for work, our cameras, kitchenware, clothing, shoes, dog stuff, bathroom things, bedding, etc. go without saying. This is how we decided on the rest:

  • Does it fit in the camper?
    Our main solution to the space issue is that for the past three years we haven’t bought anything without first asking ourselves: “Does it fit in the camper?” We would only buy it if the answer was yes. This turned out to be ingenious! It made us think about every purchase and it soon became a mindset which made it easier for us to determine the value we placed on things. A Nas daily video mentions a similar concept more suited to backpackers. He simply asks himself: “Is it worth carrying up a mountain?” You will be surprised how quickly you change your opinion on things if you take this seriously.
  • Will you use it?
    A lot of items that fit in the camper might seem like a great idea, but will you actually use them? So, another rule we have is: “If you don’t use it now, you probably won’t use it during the trip.” A good example of this is our swimming fins. I love swimming and we tend to swim a lot in summer. I expect to be swimming a lot during our trip as well, so I wanted to bring our fins. But, when we got to clearing out the shed and Jasper held up two pairs of dust-covered fins we hadn’t used all summer, we realised they were a no-go.
  • Is it fragile?
    This one is simple. No glass or ceramics allowed. After looking into our options, we elected to go for bamboo plates, bowls, cups and mugs for a number of reasons. It doesn’t have a weird plastic taste to it and it’s better for the environment. On top of all that, it’s very lightweight and virtually unbreakable.
  • What does it weigh?
    Another simple and practical one. The camper has a maximum weight limit and less random stuff weighing you down means better mileage. This is even more important if you’re backpacking.

If the above questions have ruled the item out of the trip, you are left with four options: store it, sell it, give it away, or toss it. This can be an incredibly difficult decision for some items, but it might be surprisingly easy for others.  For example, one of our items that obviously failed question number 1 was the piano. Having a piano was a big deal to me and even though I didn’t use it as often as I should, I assumed this would be one of my most difficult decisions. Turns out it wasn’t at all. My best friend earned her PhD and I wanted to give her an amazing present to go with her amazing achievement. The piano caught my eye and the decision was suddenly so simple. I knew she would love it. For all the rest of our stuff, the following questions helped us decide whether to store, sell, gift, or toss:

  • Is it easy to replace?
    This is an interesting one. We had two types of ‘Is it easy to replace?’ items. The first one being that if you give something away or sell it now, is it easily replaceable when you decide to settle down again? Kitchen appliances, for example, would fit this type and let’s face it, it isn’t worth storing a ten-year-old TV; when you settle down again, you will probably want a newer model. The second type of ‘Is it easy to replace?’ items are about regret. Can you easily repurchase it while travelling if you realise you actually need/want it with you? The swimming fins would fit this type. If it turns out we really do miss them, we can buy some new ones along the way somewhere.

The above should have narrowed down what you want to store, leaving you with deciding to sell, gift, or toss.

  • Is it valuable?
    Let’s be honest, once you’ve decided an item is not going with you and is not going in to storage, the resell value will be a huge determining factor.
  • Friends and family
    These two words are the only things that can counter the value of something, at least in our opinion.
  • No value, no one wants it?
    Then you can ask yourself whether you can bring it to a second-hand store or if it is only fit for the trash. To be honest though…if it is only fit for the trash you know that already and you could’ve have saved yourself the trouble of going through this entire list of questions.

Using this method, we quite easily went through the process of getting rid of everything we decided wasn’t worth taking with us or storing. We had also agreed in advance that we would only be storing the bare minimum. This takes a couple of tries. Once you have a pile to put in storage, leave it a few days and look at it again. We found that if you do that multiple times, the pile will continue to shrink.

If you’re left with a lot of random things that you can’t sell, but also don’t want to throw out, you could always host a post-it party/auction. Any excuse for a party!

Let us know in the comments if this was of any help to you! Or, if you have done the same do you have any additions or tips?

If this question crosses your mind every time you think of travelling, then our story will either freak you out or help you on your way. We took the drastic route, but the sense of freedom we gained in exchange is worth every cent we lost on reselling our things.

Before we went travelling, we owned a three-bed terraced house in Arnhem, the Netherlands. We lived there for ten years and managed to fill every nook and cranny it had to offer. Once the decision to travel was made, it soon became apparent that living in a camper would seriously cramp our style. Would we put everything in storage for (if and) when we come back? We decided this was not an option; we want life on the road to be as cheap as possible and hiring a storage locker for such a long time would be a relatively large investment, one we were not willing to make. So, we went for the ‘keep only the essentials, ditch the rest’ option. This option involves considering the importance of every item you own. We managed to create quite a functional system that made the decision of what to take, what to keep and what to get rid of very (in some cases relatively) easy.

We started the process early on. From plan to execution, the preparation for this trip has taken us four years. A long while, but it did allow us ample time to mentally prepare ourselves. The camper we bought is a little ’88 Fiat Ducato with limited storage space, so we immediately started thinking about what we could bring with us. Some things are big but are also non-negotiable. Jasper’s guitar, for example, will definitely come along (we ultimately decided that my saxophone is not an ideal around the campfire instrument). Other essentials such as laptops for work, our cameras, kitchenware, clothing, shoes, dog stuff, bathroom things, bedding, etc. go without saying. This is how we decided on the rest: 

  • Does it fit in the camper?
    Our main solution to the space issue is that for the past three years we haven’t bought anything without first asking ourselves: “Does it fit in the camper?” We would only buy it if the answer was yes. This turned out to be ingenious! It made us think about every purchase and it soon became a mindset which made it easier for us to determine the value we placed on things. A Nas daily video mentions a similar concept more suited to backpackers. He simply asks himself: “Is it worth carrying up a mountain?” You will be surprised how quickly you change your opinion on things if you take this seriously.
  • Will you use it?
    A lot of items that fit in the camper might seem like a great idea, but will you actually use them? So, another rule we have is: “If you don’t use it now, you probably won’t use it during the trip.” A good example of this is our swimming fins. I love swimming and we tend to swim a lot in summer. I expect to be swimming a lot during our trip as well, so I wanted to bring our fins. But, when we got to clearing out the shed and Jasper held up two pairs of dust-covered fins we hadn’t used all summer, we realised they were a no-go.
  • Is it fragile?
    This one is simple. No glass or ceramics allowed. After looking into our options, we elected to go for bamboo plates, bowls, cups and mugs for a number of reasons. It doesn’t have a weird plastic taste to it and it’s better for the environment. On top of all that, it’s very lightweight and virtually unbreakable.
  • What does it weigh?
    Another simple and practical one. The camper has a maximum weight limit and less random stuff weighing you down means better mileage. This is even more important if you’re backpacking.

If the above questions have ruled the item out of the trip, you are left with four options: store it, sell it, give it away, or toss it. This can be an incredibly difficult decision for some items, but it might be surprisingly easy for others.  For example, one of our items that obviously failed question number 1 was the piano. Having a piano was a big deal to me and even though I didn’t use it as often as I should, I assumed this would be one of my most difficult decisions. Turns out it wasn’t at all. My best friend earned her PhD and I wanted to give her an amazing present to go with her amazing achievement. The piano caught my eye and the decision was suddenly so simple. I knew she would love it. For all the rest of our stuff, the following questions helped us decide whether to store, sell, gift, or toss:

  • Is it easy to replace?
    This is an interesting one. We had two types of ‘Is it easy to replace?’ items. The first one being that if you give something away or sell it now, is it easily replaceable when you decide to settle down again? Kitchen appliances, for example, would fit this type and let’s face it, it isn’t worth storing a ten-year-old TV; when you settle down again, you will probably want a newer model. The second type of ‘Is it easy to replace?’ items are about regret. Can you easily repurchase it while travelling if you realise you actually need/want it with you? The swimming fins would fit this type. If it turns out we really do miss them, we can buy some new ones along the way somewhere.

The above should have narrowed down what you want to store, leaving you with deciding to sell, gift, or toss.

  • Is it valuable?
    Let’s be honest, once you’ve decided an item is not going with you and is not going in to storage, the resell value will be a huge determining factor.
  • Friends and family
    These two words are the only things that can counter the value of something, at least in our opinion.
  • No value, no one wants it?
    Then you can ask yourself whether you can bring it to a second-hand store or if it is only fit for the trash. To be honest though…if it is only fit for the trash you know that already and you could’ve have saved yourself the trouble of going through this entire list of questions.

Using this method, we quite easily went through the process of getting rid of everything we decided wasn’t worth taking with us or storing. We had also agreed in advance that we would only be storing the bare minimum. This takes a couple of tries. Once you have a pile to put in storage, leave it a few days and look at it again. We found that if you do that multiple times, the pile will continue to shrink.

If you’re left with a lot of random things that you can’t sell, but also don’t want to throw out, you could always host a post-it party/auction. Any excuse for a party!

Let us know in the comments if this was of any help to you! Or, if you have done the same do you have any additions or tips?

1 Comment

  1. Anita

    It was fun reading, is that allowed as a comment as well? I’m in the middle of clearing out my childhood books (Bak-ker-tje Deeg en Klompertje Klomp en Janneke, etc). No big questions to be answered, just put the big pile in a bag and bring it to Stichting t oude kinderboek. They put it in their collection or sell them and get the profit for themselves. So my books are in the gift category 😉

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.