The stuff? What about the stuff?
I suppose it’s time to tackle the biggest single problem with travelling. Stuff. Everybody has stuff. Most people have lots of stuff. Stuff is a universal first world problem. We are almost drowning in great big piles of stuff!
Okay, all jokes aside, it is one of the single biggest problems for travelers. I’m not talking about the stuff you take with you when you travel. Most-likely you have too much of that as well, but we’ll jump off the packing bridge later on. No, I’m talking about the stuff you leave behind.
Blogs that circle around the 20-something traveler have a simple solution for this problem of too much stuff. Sell it! Craigslist it, Facebook it, tell all your friends about it. The solution, get rid of it. You’re young and you can get more stuff when you’re done traveling.
To this whole Idea, I say Nay!
If you have managed to make it to the assumed plateau of middle age, good for you. You have probably managed to do a great many other things along the way. Those other adventures have probably come with trinkets and certificates and fancy stenciled beer mugs. You have probably managed to acquire a whole houseful of stuff. And, a house to put it in.
Seriously again, a house is one of the single most important purchases a first world, employed, US person can make. And, once they make it, changing it has long-standing repercussions. The loss of equity, and the inability to regain favorable interest rates a second time, maybe the inability to come up with down payments are only three of them.
If you have managed to make middle age and are considering traveling, one of your primary decisions to be made is going to be what do I do with my house? And, all the stuff inside it? It’s a major issue point that will take a long time to produce a solid decision. It might be one of the reasons that people say travel while you are young.
If you decide to keep your house and travel, then the real question becomes how do I pay my bills while on the road? We will cover this later on. If you decide to sell your house, or rent it out while you are gone, then what do you do with your stuff? If you are going to rent out your condo or home, you can always put all of your stuff in one room and lock it up. That will cut down on the storage fees. If this is not an option due to space or if you plan on selling, then moving your stuff to a storage facility is a good alternative.
At this point I find I have to admit that I’m not a fan of lots of stuff. Stuff just takes up space and collects dust. That being said, I have acquired a great deal of stuff that I would choose not to part with. I have had as little as a wall locker full of stuff and as much as a house full of stuff. I currently have a storage unit full of stuff. Interestingly, all the really important items in all those piles of stuff still take up about the same amount of space. Which, really isn’t much at all. My books, photo albums, military memorabilia, and writing manuscripts can easily fit a small storage unit. Add to it the plastic tubs of travel and concert T-Shirts and you are still only in a medium sized storage unit.
I decided to part with my house a couple years ago. Not because it was a burden, but because I was never in it. The storage unit was a massively cheaper alternative to my lifestyle. Will I buy another house? Definitely. At some point. Do I wish I hadn’t sold it? Sometimes.
The reality is that I only sold it after I thought long and hard about it. It is not a decision to be made lightly. It is the biggest single equity investment that most people make. Parting with it shouldn’t be an easy decision!
I can say after half a lifetime of doing it; travelers are travelers. It is in the blood and in the bone. And, you’re not happy when you’re not traveling. That being said, it REALLY NICE to have somewhere to come home to. Think long and hard before getting rid of your house. Look at options like renting, leasing, and such. If you are in an apartment and unattached to residency, well then, storage units are looking good aren’t they. If you have invested great amounts of time and money in a home, think long and hard about letting it go easily. It may not be so easy to get back again.
Anybody need a house. It was mine a couple years ago.