Mobile living demands sacrifice and that sacrifice is all the junk you’ve accumulated for years. Surprisingly, this will be one of the hardest parts of your mobile experience and the one for which you are least prepared.
Everyone underestimates the amount of junk they have, vastly underestimates the time it will take to get rid of it all, and the difficulty involved. We worked on getting rid of our junk for months. My wife had an entire room full of clothes she had to get rid of…that would be a spare room full of clothes, on top of what she had in the bedroom and an entire walk-in closet. You’d think I was asking her to get rid of her spare kidney, there were a lot of tears.
Know What You Can Carry
It helps if you have your mobile life vehicle a few months before you’re ready to depart. That way you know how much of your stuff you’ll be able to take. Your storage space will disappear surprisingly fast. Anything you can get that’s collapsible or fold-away will be a welcome addition to your travel kit.
Sort Your Stuff
Your clothing and personal items will fall into three distinct categories: Sell, Donate, and Keep. I became kind of an expert at selling things on Craigslist and some of those were a painful farewell.
We ended up with an odd assortment of stuff leftover. We had extra room in the camper and boxes of strange leftovers that we didn’t need but, for some reason that’s not entirely clear now, we decided to carry with us on the road.
Avoid The Storage Trap
The biggest mistake we made was leaving a storage unit full of stuff behind in a place we had no real reason to return. First, I believe leaving stuff in storage is a big mistake. Unless it’s climate controlled storage, you’re going to lose most of it anyway. My wife had a black leather couch that she insisted we keep. After it sat in a storage unit for four years, it wasn’t anything you’d want to sit on. It had been attacked by mold and mildew and a mouse had made a nest in it while we were away. That expensive couch ended up in the landfill after we paid storage on it for years! It was the same story with a lot of the junk we left behind. Most of it was rotted, corroded, or obsolete by the time we got back to it.
In rough numbers we paid $5,500 for storage over four years. Then we still ended up junking most of it, giving away a bunch more, and hauling home what we could fit in the bed of the truck. On a side note, we have ended up getting rid of almost everything we brought back, with the exception of one TV, which miraculously managed to survive both the storage and drive home. If you’ve been following along, you also know that we had a tire explode just south of Orlando on the way back that did $3,000 damage to our truck and cost $900 for tires. Plus we spent roughly $800 on travel and hotels, for a grand total cost of $10,200. Insurance paid for fixing the truck, which left our out of pocket expenses at $7,200. That for a storage unit full of junk, more than half of which we either junked or gave away.
If you absolutely have to store stuff, then make sure it’s at a facility that’s near friends or relatives; a place you know you’ll have to visit at some point. Just be aware that, most times, it’s a bad idea. Unless you know exactly where you’re going, you could end up living far, far away from your stuff. When you’re mobile, you could end up anywhere, including places you never imagined.