How on Earth do you just leave your home? Here is where I share how to prep for a year of travelling and what I learned along the way! I encourage you to ask questions that I can address as we go along!
I had many concerns months before we decided to do this. What about a car? I can’t not work, I would be so bored! What about our mail? Belongings? What do we pack? What if I get homesick and realize I no longer have a “home”? So many questions and concerns. We figured out most of it, but I’m sure there is a lot more learning ahead! Of course, our family and friends have all the same questions that we had to figure out. Hopefully, this will put your mind at ease and possibly give you tips for your own future travels!
Where to put your belongings?
- You will ALWAYS have more belongings than you thought. ALWAYS.
- Where the hell did all the stuff come from!? How did all of this fit in our tiny apartment? It does, and you need to find a way to manage it all.
- I read a great book a few years ago called, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” where the author really helps you to get rid of things. The way she puts it is you are keeping what brings you joy, and everything else you can toss or donate. We donated a LOT of stuff!
- We started with a 5×10 storage unit, and ended up with a 10×10, even after getting rid of a lot of stuff!
- Have a tag sale – We SHOULD have had a tag sale, but we did not plan well enough and ran out of time. The small stuff like clothing, utensils, cookware, etc that we did not want ended up going to Vietnam Veterans of America. This is a great service where you schedule a pickup, they come to your house and grab the items. No need to remember to drag the stuff to the Goodwill or Salvation Army. They grab it for you!
- Sell anything valuable
- Neighborhood facebook groups/tag sale pages, my own facebook page and an app called OfferUp. We sold most of our furniture and larger items worth money. Everything else went into storage.
TIP – pack a small box of items that you might need! Tiago has a box of books that are important for his work, which are in a small box at the front of the unit. We also packed a winter box, so if and when we travel somewhere colder and we plan on skiing, we have everything together. A friend of ours has the key to the unit, and will ship us anything we think we need and she won’t have to dig through the entire unit!
How will you get mail? Since we do not have a home base, we need 1 location for our mail to go so we can get what we need.
- Sign-up for Traveling Mailbox! This is a great service that will scan your envelops for you to see, and you can decide which ones you want them to open and scan for you, mail to you, or discard.
- Opt-out of credit card offers and junk mail to minimize the amount of mail coming in.
- Forward your mail to the address given in Traveling Mailbox.
- Make sure you are getting all bills electronically for your accounts to minimize as well!
Will you be driving everywhere?
- Decide whether or not this a road trip or not. We decided to not drive our car because it is old with a lot of miles, and we prefer to fly and rack up some serious points! Not having a car will allow us to explore on foot, experience public transit, and get creative with saving money.
- Since we will be flying most places, we decided to store my car at my moms. We gave it one last oil change, decreased our insurance to the lowest coverage, and asked my mother to drive it once a month or so.
- Stick to a budget – We have a monthly “car” budget which may or may not be used each month, but would include Uber fairs, taxis, buses, and rental cars when needed. We will walk and rent bikes to help minimize this cost.
Won’t it feel weird not having a place to call “home”? – This has been my biggest fear as we started to prep for a year of travelling. A few years ago, Tiago wanted to move to Brazil for a few months to be with family and give up our apartment. I stressed the need to be able to go “home” when I needed to, and if we did not have a home, what would I do? I got over it. The places we will stay will be as homey as I can control. If I get homesick, I can text, call, skype, or if it is so bad…I can go home to my mom!
Where will you stay?
- Airbnb is a wonderful thing! You can find exactly what you want and need. Private place, shared space, fully furnished, near public transit, pool, castle, igloo…whatever you want! They have it! You can also choose your price point. Most of the time, the places we will stay at will be more expensive than what we paid for rent at home, but you have to keep in mind, you are not paying electric, gas, oil, cable, and internet separately. Just be sure to read the host’s reviews, their house rules, cancel rules etc. You don’t want to be surprised with anything. Chat with them before booking to make sure this will work for you.
- Family and friends – We have family and friends all over the country, so depending on where we are and what we are doing, we may visit with family, however the idea is to see what it is like to LIVE in most of the locations. We want to experience what it is like to live in these places and not feel like we are on vacation.
What will you bring? This was easier said than done. I think we downsized what we were bringing at least 10 times. When you prep for a year of travelling, you have no idea what you really will need. Just when we thought things were good, the luggage was too heavy or would not close.
- Half of what you think you need, you don’t! We fit all of our stuff we THINK we might need or want in 3 large suitcases, 1 small suitcase, 2 backpacks, and 1 larger purse.
- Clothing – This is hard. But not as hard as you think. Since you will not be going to the office anymore, many “business casual” clothing can be left behind. You don’t need 20 pairs of socks, 10 workout outfits, 10 dresses, etc. Bring enough for a week, because you can always do laundry! (get a place with laundry….it’s great!) Are you only going to be in warm climates? One pair of jeans and/or pants, 1 sweatshirt, 1 sweater is fine. You probably still won’t where those!
- Bring some comforts from home, that you wouldn’t bring on vacation. Some things we brought (or bought while on our trip: A good knife, miracle whisk (the best for making eggs, mayo, dressing), coloring book, knitting stuff, extra toiletries, jewelry, portable speaker, electronics that you use on a regular basis, etc.
- If you need something you didn’t bring, you can always purchase it. Goodwill, pharmacy, etc. This trip isn’t like a backpacking/hiking adventure, so the comforts of home are a store away. My setback was we had all this stuff, why buy more on the trip? I don’t like to be wasteful.
How are you able to afford this? I think this is a common concern, as it was one of mine way before we decided to do this. Having a budget is an important way to prep for a year of travelling. Here are some ways in which it will work for us.
- My husband is working remotely and will continue getting paid. He is certainly not making us rich, but it is certainly much more than I was working for a non-profit! So the one income works for us with a tighter wallet.
- Re-budget – On the road, your expenses will change. We lost our expensive Crossfit membership, oil bill, internet and cable, electricity, and gas for the house and car, but we now have flights, airbnb, and possible car expenses to consider.
- This is not VACATION! Though it totally feels this way so far, it is not vacation! We want to try so many restaurants, but we have to be smart for our waistline and wallet! Simple breakfast, healthy homemade lunch, and a CHEAP dinner out. This means no drinks out, we are sharing meals and/or getting great deals on Groupon, happy hour specials, etc.
- Use frequent flier miles and/or a credit card with a great point system. Our credit card offers double points for travel expenses. Since Airbnb is considered a “hotel” on our credit card….double points. We put all expenses on the credit card and pay off more than once a month. Eventually, flights will be free! The Southwest Credit card is also awesome if you plan to fly a lot!
NOTE: I’m sure half of what I wrote here will change as we continue our journey. We are certainly learning as we go, and what I think is best now, might completely change along the way. Some of you might think this advice is crazy, or stupid, but this is what is working for ME right NOW. I might look back later and laugh at what I thought was good advice. It is all part of the process and how we planned to prep for a year of travelling.