The older you get, the more things you own, or as some might say, the more things own you. We own an average amount of stuff; furniture for a two bed house, a lot of books, some art, photographs, DVDs and quite a few sentimental boxes of treasure. Many other travel bloggers will wax lyrical about how their journey is about living off the land, relying on the kindness of strangers, eating mushrooms in a hippy commune and proudly owning nothing but the shirt on their back (plus their smart phone, laptop, kindle, iPod, GPS, and digital SLR camera of course) . Kudos to them, but that is not what our journey is about, we quite like our stuff. If money was no object I guess we would kit out a Winnebago with our lovingly restored shabby chic furniture. Adorning the walls with our art and photographs, leaving enough drawer space for all our clothes and Ikea bedding. The kitchen would have ample space for our Kenwood mixer, varying size loaf tins and our ever growing collection of Tupperware. However, like most ordinary travelers, money (or how to make it go further) is something we have thought long and hard about whilst planning our great escape.
Letting go of all our belongings and living just with what we can carry is not an easy process. However we can not imagine six months from now waking up to an ocean view with the sun rising above it and saying “I wish I had a corner couch to sit on and a TV to watch.” For us travel is a process of enrichment and shedding our household items is a necessary part of that. Yes we like our stuff, but when we consider what we are trading it in for, we agree that the swap is more than worth it.
We do not own a house and we decided against paying out for a storage facility for an unknown timescale. Due to one set of our parents being deceased and another living abroad we do not have the luxury of leaving everything with Mum and Dad, like the 18 year old gap year crowd. That led us to one conclusion: sell everything.
Of course when you begin to sort through your belongings it becomes clear that most of it is actually worthless tat that no one would want to buy. So the first step is to sort the wheat from the chaff and throw things away. All of those training notes from old jobs which might come in useful one day, the chargers for devices we no longer owned, the AAA batteries that had a little bit of life left in them, that odd sock that we keep sending around the wash cycle in the vain hope it will find its match. We recycled them, we binned them, we donated them and we gave them away. It is worth noting that as well as donating clothes to charity you can sell the branded ones on eBay or use a facility that buys clothes by the Kg. Some high street clothes stores allow you to trade in old clothes for money off vouchers such as H&M who will give you a voucher for £5 off a £30 spend for each small bag donated. The clothes can be any brand and can even be damaged as they recycle them to prevent them going to landfill sites. It is a good way of getting rid of the bra with a broken clasp, t-shirt with a hole in or grass stained jeans that no one would buy at a charity shop.
There are some items we decided we wanted to keep. We packed some winter clothes and collected our art work, some books and sentimental items for storage in Sians’ sisters loft. Surprised by the amount of space up there, our collection expanded to some household and kitchen items which would be costly to replace. So we now have a few things that will help us set up home if we return to the UK. Anything we did not need or would not fit up a loft ladder was now for sale.
As the saying goes, one mans junk is another mans treasure and it is surprising what people will buy. Using eBay we sold board games, meerkats, a used Lego advent calendar, a broken sewing machine and a damaged table. After offering furniture for sale on Facebook and to friends and family we decided on a blanket approach of listing everything on eBay for auction starting at 99p. As most of our furniture consisted of quirky old pieces we picked up in charity shops and flea markets, we actually made a profit on some things. The most surprising was an old prop from a shop window display which we got for free a few years ago and have been using as drawers, this sold for £77. Whilst we were sad to see our lovely restored furniture leave us, we know we can find similar items for the same price the next time we furnish a house. It was also useful to equate the money to the life we will be living on the road, selling a sideboard for £50 could give us 5 nights accommodation in Vietnam. That Monopoly game we played twice will buy us food for two days and our sofa bed bought us a new Kindle Fire HDX to keep us connected on the road.
The biggest thing we have to sell is the car, we want keep that for as long as possible as we still have people to visit before we leave. This should give us a large chunk of cash which will be put towards buying our camper van in Australia.
Listing items and responding to questions can seem like a full time job at times, but the satisfaction of watching the bids increase and seeing the money roll in to your Paypal account is strangely addictive. Of course we then had the idea for a potential business of spending our weekends scouring car boots and charity shops for items to “up sell” on eBay. Then we remembered its not 2001 anymore and we have a trip to plan.