Skip to Content

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
Save to Pinterest!

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.

Travel blog subscribers and what to do with them
Previous
Getting Travel Blog Subscribers
Highlights of Malaysia for Families
Next
Malaysia With Kids

Karissa

Saturday 3rd of April 2021

We are planning to do this! I would love to have everything sold by end of July. I’m nervous to tell family and friends as they will definitely tell me I’m crazy. How did you deal with the negativity from others?

Alyson for World Travel Family

Saturday 3rd of April 2021

There was a lot! We moved on and set about proving them wrong. We made plenty of new friends and stuck by the family that supported us. The people who thought they were entitled to share their opinion... not seen them since. Not missed. You're not crazy. You're doing something through love and passion. It was the best thing we ever did. Now this last year, stuck "at home" through Covid, I just dream of the day we can get back to the life we were meant to live, out there somewhere, living our best lives not boring monotony. Good luck!

Kerstin

Monday 1st of February 2021

Hi! We are just talking about doing this, come summer. We have a 14 (almost 15) year old. Any tips on going during pandemic from anyone? How do we find "safe-ish" countries? Thank you!

Alyson for World Travel Family

Monday 1st of February 2021

Well, if you can leave your country you're much luckier than us. We can't go anywhere. I think a lot more countries are closed now than they were. Most of South East Asia seems shut. People, the nomads, were heading to the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Sri Lanka is open, Thailand is technically open, but there are just too many hoops to jump through. People have been getting into Bali using visa agents but it's illegal and Bali have been expelling people. The only region where I know people are still travelling in Central / South America. But things change daily. Rock and a hard place I'm afraid. We're just waiting it out until borders open and travel (and our income) returns. Best of luck!

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.

nomadic family life

Alyson

Creator of World Travel Family

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.

shares

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!