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Sell Everything and Travel – How to Start Over in a Travel Lifestyle

Hi there, so you’re as crazy as us! Great to meet you. You’re thinking of selling everything you own and setting off to travel the world. We did just that. We were that family that sells everything to travel. We didn’t sell everything but we sold a lot and we were on the road full-time for 6 years. When we eventually returned what were we glad to still have, what do we wish we’d sold? How did it feel to be reunited with “stuff”?  How do you sell everything to travel and start over?  What options do you have, where can you store your stuff and is it a good idea?

For us it was a great idea and our lives changed the moment we took the decision the start over. We did it with 2 small kids. That further complicated matters.

We now have a completely new outlook, business, and greater success and happiness. So how is this thing done? The first step is making the decision the second step is selling your stuff. If you’d like this full series delivered to your inbox, just scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign up. We have much to share,

How to sell everything and travel

Selling Everything You Own to Go See the World

What are the options? What can you do with your possessions while travelling?

  • You can quite literally sell everything and compress your life to a few important documents and the contents of your backpack. You can even sell your house.
  • You can keep your house and rent it out.
  • You can sell a lot, raise cash that way, but keep and store sentimental or perennially useful items.
  • You can reduce and de-clutter but keep all the big things if you rent out your house furnished.
  • You can store items in your loft or attic if you are a homeowner.
  • You could lock one room of your house, rent the property, and use that room for storage.
  • You can store items with friends and family.
  • You can use paid storage facilities, but this quickly gets expensive.

Sell Everything

Certainly sell your car, go ahead and sell your house, those two things have well-established mechanisms.

How to sell your possessions and gear? We found that local buy swap sell Facebook groups were our best option for reaching potential buyers. If there isn’t one in your area, start one.

Once the big-ticket items were gone and we were closer to departure we opened our garage and had a garage sale which lasted weeks. Most things we wanted to sell, sold.

Items that sold easily, some surprising, included:

  • paperback and hard back books.
  • stacks of old magazines
  • kitchen items
  • furniture
  • some good quality clothes, most didn’t sell
  • sports gear
  • dive gear
  • kayaks
  • fishing gear
  • craft equipment
  • good quality toys in good condition
  • gardening equipment in good condition
  • good shoes
  • good handbags
  • quality decorative items
  • table lamps
  • camping gear
  • towels
  • furniture
  • soft furnishings
  • DVDs ( I doubt you’d find this today!)
  • We didn’t have any jewellery to sell but the garage sale pros all wanted gold.

Items that were in bad condition, CDs, clothes that were nothing special, anything non-desirable, didn’t sell. We totally failed to sell our BBQ, that was surprising.

Everything that didn’t sell, that we didn’t want, went to a charity shop. Our garage sale raised several thousand dollars. Obviously this will depend on you and how much “stuff” you have accumulated.

Options for Renting Your House While You’re Away

We rented out our property long-term through a local agent. We got lucky, our tenants paid on time, did little damage and the second set were in our home for 4 years, accepting annual price increases.

You must have renters insurance.

You also need a trustworthy agent who will monitor the state of your property. There are a lot of horror stories of tenants refusing to pay or trashing houses along with many, like ours, of things going well.

If you value your garden and have a swimming pool you will need a pool guy and decent gardener. The gardeners we paid didn’t even come close to maintaining the gardens and we came back to a jungle. Probably our own fault for over-estimating tenants desire to keep their surroundings pleasant.

Another option would be shorter term leases, either through an agent or via AirBnb. If you choose these options you can charge higher rent but there is more risk of periods of emptiness and more hassle and drama at change over times.

If you choose the AirBnb route you’ll need either a good friend to do this for you or you can pay an agency to deal with this. Such agencies are fairly common as Airbnb booms. You will need reliable cleaners and laundry technicians.

It helps to have some money put aside for emergency repairs, we had bills for new pool pumps and air conditioners while we were away.

A Note About Buying and Selling Second Hand Items

We’d bought some second-hand items in the preceding year, without exception these sold at the same price, or a higher price, than we’d paid. There’s a lesson there, always buy second-hand.  A million little tips on saving money add up to a big cash pot in the end.

The Things We Kept – Sentimental, Useful, and Evergreen Items

We kept a basic set of pots, pans, plates, and cutlery and were glad that we did.

We kept some small items of furniture in the loft, some larger items that we couldn’t move stayed in the house. They were in great condition when we returned and I really wish we’d kept more of our wood.

Keep good clothes, it’s been great to come back to a full wardrobe but it was a wake up call as to how ridiculous this huge clothes collection is. It really does feel better to just have a few items you love and use often.

I scanned all of our photos but still I stashed the originals in the attic. I probably should have ditched them.

We kept all paintings, art, and photos in frames as they were, wrapped in plastic wrap. It was very good to see them again.

The few books that we kept, I’m glad we kept. My kids are older now and they are reading them.

We kept all of the kids’ most important toys and books and they were thrilled to see them again despite being far too old for them. Most of the toys we sold had been gifts that they never really wanted nor connected with. Our culture of gift giving really needs addressing, it’s so wasteful and an unnecessary use of earth’s resources. 

sell everything and travel the world
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The Things You Really Should Sell or Get Rid of That We Didn’t

Get rid of as much electric equipment as possible. Including Christmas lights, extension leads and power boards. Wire coatings start to break down and plastics become brittle, I don’t trust this stuff  now.

Anything that lives outdoors should go. Weathering ages outdoor gear, including the BBQ and gardening equipment, fast. Sell it while it still has value.

Get rid of as much paperwork as possible, we have boxes of the stuff that I’m dreading sorting. We did get rid of loads, so this next sorting will be repeating a task that we should have got right the first time around.

Be brutal with sentimental items.

How to Package Items for Storage and What Condition Was Our Stuff in After 6 Years in the Roof

Most of the “stuff” we got down from the attic after 6 years away was in perfect condition. One or two boxes had been infiltrated by mice, cockroaches, or spiders but by far the majority was absolutely fine.

Items packed in cardboard boxes came out worst. A mouse had chewed its way into one and another had disintegrated under a tiny roof leak. If you don’t meticulously tape every flap and join, the bugs will get in.

Clothes and linens stored in zip suitcases were fine.

Items stored in plastic tubs with lids, taped around the edges, were best of all.

Very little  had really deteriorated through age, other than, surprisingly, running shoes. We’d left our good running shoes at home but after 6 years of storage their soles fell off after the first jog. So if you can, sell your running shoes.

A couple of kitchen items, plastic handled spoons and spatulas had gone sticky with age and had to go in the bin and as mentioned above electric items no longer feel so safe but otherwise, everything was fine.

So our best advice is to invest in plastic storage tubs and plenty of tape. Be sure that everything you pack is completely clean and clothes freshly laundered. We think the mouse had come hunting for a crumb inside a toy. Dirty clothes would have gone mouldy as they do here in the laundry bin after a day.

What Should Travel With You? What Do You Need in Your Backpack?

Don’t think you need to buy all the travel accessories the marketers want to sell you. Take what you have and upgrade or replace as you go. Clothes are no problem at all, just take normal clothes but electrical items quickly become a headache, particularly for us as nomads of the digital variety. You can see our Travel Essentials here.

So does it sound like a plan? Are you ready to sell everything and travel, start over,move overseas or become a nomad? Tell us in the comments. If you’d like this series delivered to your inbox just sign up, alternatively, follow us on Instagram. Want to know more about what we went through during the selling process? Take a look at our answer to Do You Have to Be Rich to Travel The World? Maybe also look at our 3 month and 1 week countdowns to departure to get a taste of the realities, it was hard at times and maybe I was a little scared to make the jump into travel as a lifestyle. Another post I’d like you to read is this one on the realities of a nomadic lifestyle. For us, it was the best thing we ever did.

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Haley coronado

Wednesday 11th of November 2020

Hi! I am a mother of 2 as well, my husband and I are working on selling everything to travel like y'all! I just get so overwhelmed sometimes thinking about everything we need to do. I wish we could just take off. Do you have any tips on what to focus on, what to get done first , and what not to worry about so much? We are just ready to go!

Alyson for World Travel Family

Wednesday 11th of November 2020

I was the same. Couldn't wait to go, and in the end the boys and I left a few months before my husband. He tidied up all the loose ends. First, start saving. Then sell everything unnecessary and start packing up items for storage. Fix up your house to sell or rent. Then at the pointy end you sell important items like beds. We sold our dining table weeks before we left. Then let your agent know about the house and sell your can. But we also did this when emigrating, and that was more complex. We ended up having to find alternate accommodation after our house sold because they're was so much to organise. Visas, residency, health screening, working to the end of my contract, getting a removal company to pack up and ship everything. That was way more drama than just getting a one way ticket to KL and vanishing for 7 years. Best of luck, stay in touch!

Kevin Clark

Sunday 13th of September 2020

Came across this site by my search criteria. My wife and I, in 5 years, will be 65/64, and retiring. Our goal is to continue to travel in Europe and Asia full time while our health and finances allow us. Our goal is to liquidate everything except personal keepsakes and cherished pieces like our bedroom set for example. We'll set aside the monies from the sale of our house for when we eventually return to Canada. We have traveled extensively throughout Europe for the past ten years so it's certainly our passion to continue our journey. Any insight, advice, cautions, etc. would be appreciated. Kevin and Deb Clark, Edmonton, Alberta.

Alyson for World Travel Family

Sunday 13th of September 2020

Hi Kevin, I'm not sure if you read, but I do mention that when we eventually came home, we were overwhelmed by the "stuff". Some stuff it was great to see again, but a lot was no longer fit for purpose. I think it's on the post on coming home after long-term travel ( just search). The other thing to be very mindful of is your health. Stay on top of it. I'm coming up to 54 now and it's not as easy as it was to just vanish for years on end and climb mountains. Stay fit, eat clean. Best of luck to you and I really hope you are able to achieve your goals. Thanks so much for your comment, they always cheer me up.

Kate Fullen

Sunday 30th of August 2020

I’ve just made the decision to travel with my 2 young kids. I’m a bit nervous as I’m a single parent, but looking forward to reading thru all your posts and getting some advice. Thank you!

Alyson for World Travel Family

Sunday 30th of August 2020

Best of luck Kate. Times are difficult for travellers now but I know of several families who have set out in the last few months. They changed their plans, they're visiting different countries, but they're still departing and having a great time.


Sunday 26th of July 2020

I'm so grateful to have found your site, Alyson! Thank you for providing both whimsical inspiration AND practical guidance for how to go about planning and paying for a long-term family travel - it's a huge help! I'm a seasoned world traveler who spent a good part of my twenties living in the former Soviet Bloc and traveling around Europe and Central America. But...I've been 'benched' for a long time now, aside from more conventional 'vacation' style travel. Now, I'm many years older, married with two young children and an established career. I've continued nursing a dream of living abroad again some day with my family, but timing and circumstances and bureaucracy have let me convince myself that it's impractical - if not impossible. Until now. The global pandemic we're all enduring has produced incredible amounts of disruption and upheaval. A great un-mooring, if you will. School was suspended months ago and there is nothing but uncertainty around if, when and how it will resume safely. Having tried our hands at 'remote learning' via the virtual resources provided by our school district, we know that it is not the right approach for our young sons - who are 7 and 4. But genuine homeschool feels right. Both my husband and I's jobs were eliminated early in the pandemic, which has opened space for he and I to have big, bold, broad conversations about what we want our lives and livelihoods to look like in the long-term. For me, this is exciting. For him, it is intimidating. I'm far more risk-tolerant than he. More confident in positive outcomes. I see opportunity and potential where he sees roadblocks and strife. But he's coming along and making great strides, learning to trust himself and me and see the possibilities. I convinced him two months ago that we should sell our house. We're now under contract and will close in about a month's time. Now I'm convincing him we should sell most of our possessions and he's onboard. And for what? For a family gap year. Not necessarily a fully nomadic experience designed to take us to many corners of the world. There IS a global pandemic afoot, after all. Plus, for as much as I love to travel, I loathe being in transit. Not to mention the fact that as Americans, we don't have as many options for travel, with so many nations (rightly) being skeptical of exposing their citizens to the pathogens we might carry.

So instead, our gap year will be quieter and more measured. We'll spend longer periods of time in fewer locales than many nomadic folks and families do. We'll specifically seek out accommodation that will afford us the opportunity to safely distance and to home school/road school/ world school our children. During this time, we'll be working hard, preparing to bring another dream to fruition - to settle more 'permanently' outside of the US.

I'm a researcher by nature and while I hate plans, I love preparation, so I'm in the information gathering phase, learning what I can from families who've traveled this road before us. My husband is overwhelmed but onboard, and I'm thrilling at the possibilities.

Thank you for your work and your writing!

Alyson for World Travel Family

Sunday 26th of July 2020

Best comment of the day!Thanks and good luck. It really sounds like you have everything to gain.


Saturday 18th of July 2020

My husband and I are in our 30s with two children 6 and 1. My husband has currently been taking about selling everything and travel. The thought of it sounds great and educational for the kids, family time memories, etc. Why Not, Right! I have fear of the unknowns. I know he is tired of the everyday and tired of working his tail off to what, come home and mow the huge yard, and fix things that break, feed animals. The chore list goes on. He wants to see the US and have his kids see it too. I want that too! And I want that for him. How can I move forward? I guess I’m just venting and maybe some extra boost of support. Thanks

Alyson for World Travel Family

Saturday 18th of July 2020

What's the plan? Will you blow all your cash and be left with nothing, or do you mean to start an income stream that will allow you to be location independent and support yourselves? Maybe if you're just travelling in the US one of you could work from time to time as you move around? It's been wonderful for us. I don't know how long you've been on the site, but my younger child was 6 when we left. He's a teen now. It has been so, so good for both of them and for us as a unit. They're doing wonderful things academically. But now, with Covid, can it happen? I know we can't go anywhere right now, we can't even leave the country so I'm very glad of my home, garden, and pets. They make life OK in the absence of travel. Times are uncertain. You'all sit and talk this out. What's the long-term vision?

nomadic family life

Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.