You’ve flagged your favorite ‘Must See’ spots from all those inspirational Instagram posts, searched the “Big Lap” so many times it automatically pops up in your Google search bar and you have a pile of travel brochures and maps messing up your house… Congratulations – you’ve decided to pack it all in for an adventure of a lifetime!
Now that the decision has been made you can probably picture the wide open road hiding behind a huge ‘To Do’ list – I did too! I feel like we’ve just been through the project management Olympics and if it existed we would be in the running for GOLD! In just 4 months we made the snap decision to embrace nomad life full-time and travel around Australia – so we simplified our possessions and sold up! All of this on top of planning and prepping for our lap of Oz in our Jayco Caravan.
It may seem a little daunting at first and a logistical nightmare trying to plan your adventure and fit all your possessions into a small box on wheels, but it can be done! The process of culling and simplifying your ‘things’ can be an empowering experience… AND all that hard work is SO worth it once you hit the road.
Putting the wheels in motion
As a starting point I’d recommend deciding on a leaving date, or perhaps a specific week (so you are not disappointed if some last minute things hold you up and delay your adventure). Be realistic and allow yourself plenty of preparation time. You may also want to consider where you will be travelling as certain seasons may affect whether you should travel Clockwise or Anti-clockwise depending on the time of year.
Grab a notepad and pen and get ready to write lists, lists and more lists!! I separated my ‘To Do’ lists into headings like house, caravan and admin etc. and pinned them up where we could see them. I also printed out a calendar with a monthly view per page. I added in our leaving week with highlighters which gave us a visual of how long we had to pack up and get all the work done.
Selling, renting or using house sitters? or cancelling your rental lease? Whatever your situation, be mindful of your timeline of moving out and the possibility of having an open house / real estate photo shoot. You may want to arrange for photos of your home while it is still furnished and clean and not full of packing boxes or midway through selling off your household goods. We had our house professionally styled by a company who brought in their own display furniture for the sale which allowed us to sell off our main pieces of furniture in the weeks leading up to vacating.
We SOLD our house to live full-time on the road
Budgeting Tip: You may want to consult with your financial adviser or accountant to discuss how your decision to travel will affect you financially eg. how will you manage paying your mortgage, how will you invest the funds from the sale of your home or, if you are renting out your house, do you need to consider things like paying land tax into your travel budget?
Preparing and packing up your home
Keep, donate, throw away or sell it? Packing up your life is not easy and with every item you come across you will have to make a decision. This process can be exhausting as you can get so attached to ‘things’. For me, I took a moment to appreciate where it came from, then reminded myself that this next chapter is about the simple things – travel and adventure, with the aim to collect memories and not things which helped me let go of some items… and if I just couldn’t part with it, I packed it. Simple.
Take some time to walk through your house and designate a ‘place’ for each major item of furniture (keep/donate/throw/sell).Then start culling everything room by room that you don’t use and pack away items that you use the least. You may want to have a box for donations, selling, storage and a bin pile so you can pop each item into your boxes as you go. It is also a good idea to keep these boxes away from other family members and ‘little people’ who may come past and reclaim items which happened a lot for us!! It was like one step forward and 3 steps back with our mini Blondies on the scene, but we got there in the end. I made sure I did a weekly charity run to donate unwanted items and I kept a box in the back of our car so the kids couldn’t see what I was getting rid of and I knew it was always there to drop off if I had the opportunity.
If you can pack you new ‘Home on Wheels’ at the same time as your house you will save double handling items
Cha ching – Selling items
A good way to help fund your adventure is to sell some of your quality possessions. We waited until we had a pile of items and then listed them for sale. You can list your items on eBay, Gumtree or your local Facebook buy/swap/sell pages. You can also list items like furniture that you do not want for free.
Selling Tip: Consider the time you list your items for sale. We listed items on a Friday and found that most things then sold over the weekend. Gumtree was by far the most successful platform to sell our major household items.
Over time we also had friends and family visit and we’d ALWAYS offer them any items from these piles – it’s safe to say they never left empty handed!
Boxes – Jump onto your local Facebook community page or Gumtree for second-hand boxes or you can purchase them from removalists or Bunnings. If you have young kids keep hold of nappy boxes as they are a perfect size too. We like to use clear plastic tubs to store important items like paperwork, photographs and things we don’t want to risk being affected by water, mould or eaten by rodents.
You may need to store some of your house items in a paid storage facility or if possible, to keep costs down, store items with friends or relatives. You could use a storage container and place it on a friend/relative’s property. Some container hire businesses also offer you the option of storing the container for you. If you are using a storage company you may want to shop around for prices, often storage facilities further away from town will be cheaper, or if you mention you won’t be needing access for a long time they may provide you with a cheaper rate.
A lot of our house items have been sold or given to charity. We originally planned on using our home garage as storage and locking it up away from our tenants but, after we decided to sell our house we had to hire a small storage unit out of town to hold a few sentimental items and Rob’s carpentry tools.
Top Tip: If you have little ones, pack away the toys you plan to take on your trip early so the kids feel like they are new toys again once you hit the road. In the meantime visit your local library to borrow toys, books and DVDs.
…And just like that all our possessions fit into a tiny storage unit!
Switching off your house
The feeling when you drive away and wave goodbye to your house is pretty amazing! Besides all the checklists in your head and excited and nervous butterflies of the unknown adventure that awaits, knowing that you no longer have to mow the lawns, pay the electricity bill, or keep up with the craziness of suburban life, is a pretty amazing feeling.
Here is a checklist for all the account cancellations or utility disconnections you may need to arrange.
Cancellations and Disconnections:
☐ Electricity / Gas
☐ Cable TV/Netflix/Stan etc.
☐ Newspaper/magazine subscriptions
☐ Children’s Swimming lessons/sports clubs
☐ Gym Memberships
☐ Cleaner/Gardener/Pool Maintenance
The cheapest option for handling your mail is for a family member or friend to help you receive and sort your mail for you while you travel. You could have them simply take a photo and email or text you anything of importance.
Most of the time you can opt to receive paperless/soft copy communications from most businesses but unfortunately there are companies that cannot send you soft copies of their correspondence and are required by law to send you a paper copy so make sure you have an address you can provide in this case.
Another option is utilising an online service that scans your mail for you and makes it available via their website for a fee. This process can be quite pricey though as you will need to paid a monthly mail redirect fee to direct your mail to them.
Receiving Mail on the road
If you require a parcel delivery such as your distance education/school packages or some online shopping purchases while you are travelling Australia Post provides you with a variety of options including:
- 24/7 Parcel Lockers – In more than 260 locations. Accessed via a unique secure code the lockers can hold your parcel for up to 48 hours (great if you know you will be staying in one spot for a while).
- Post Office Collection – With 3,600 locations around Australia the Post Office will hold your parcel for up to 10 days (great to use when you are coming into a new area).
Here is a checklist for all your mail redirection/soft copy registrations you may want to arrange.
Mail redirection/soft copy registration:
☐ Bank Accounts/Home Loan
☐ Credit Cards
☐ Insurance – House/Contents/Car/Caravan/Boat etc.
☐ Personal Insurance – Life/Income/Health
☐ Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
☐ Australian Electoral Commission (AEC)
☐ Driver’s Licence
☐ Vehicle Registrations
☐ Toll Tags
☐ Pet Microchip Registry & Vet
☐ Doctor/Dentist etc.
☐ Real Estate Agent
☐ Library, Clubs and Memberships
☐ Loyalty cards (eg. FlyBuys, Myer One)
For now, note down a list of the organisations above that you will need to change your details with. Then you can visit the website for each service and change your address online with as many as you can. This is a good job to do at night in front of the TV. Try to tick off a bunch each night.
If you start this process about 2 months before you leave, it should give you enough time to see what arrives in the post that you may have missed, and just to be safe you can also organise a mail redirection service for the first few months that you are gone if you wish. It is also a good idea to leave a forwarding postal and email address with the new owners or tenants of your house.
To ensure you have access to your prescriptions, important allergies and general medical history you may want to consider signing up to My Health Record.
This is a secure online summary of your health information. You can control what goes into it, and who is allowed to access it. You can choose to share your health information with your doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers. If your doctor’s practice is connected to the My Health Record system, you can ask them to add your health information to your record.
If you’re still with me this was a bit of a long post and I still feel like we’ve only just scratched the surface as there is so much more to share to help you pack up and hit the road – so, I’m in the process of creating an ebook to share all the elements needed to help get you on the road quicker! Watch this space!
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