- Stacey Shevlin
Packing Up Your Life : Getting Ready To Travel
Updated: Aug 18, 2021
Packing for long-term travel is really hard
Wow, the task of packing up a whole life is pretty epic.
When we first started thinking about spending the year abroad I knew it would be a production. Between the travel plans (that’s the next post) and the packing up of one’s whole life, it was bound to be… a lot.
I have gone through each of the steps that I took separately so that you can just go find the step you need some info on. If you don’t see what you need, send me a message and I’ll do my best to help.
Securing a storage unit
First, there is the business of securing a storage unit for all of your belongings. We searched far and wide on google for a 10×20 unit in LA that we could store our household items and our car- that we could afford- and came up empty-handed. We expanded our search, then expanded it again, all the way to Ontario CA, about a 50-minute drive outside of Los Angeles.
We went with a mom and pop called Captain’s Storage. The space was $179 a month which is a great price. After living in a 2 bedroom house for six years, it turns out you have way more than you thought you did. You find so many things hiding in the back of the closets, and in the cabinets and drawers. Things you haven’t seen much less used in six years. Straight to the yard sale with those dormant items. We did have not one but two yard sales. It turned out to be a really fun experience, a way to finally meet our neighbors, just as we’re walking out the door. We sold about half of the items we needed to get rid of, the other half, were off to Thrift For Aids.
Next, we started packing the things we wanted to hold on to. I started the process about a month and a half before our move out date. I hate the weekend move, jamming everything into a u-haul trying to make it to the storage unit before it closes, hectic and stressful. I wanted to avoid that as much as possible, so I started packing early, and we’ve been taking a run to the unit once a week in our car. Aside from the obvious things I just mentioned there is actually a long list of things you need to do when you are leaving for a year.
Cancel your subscriptions
All of your subscriptions that won’t work in Europe must be discontinued. On this list are: Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Now, and any other streaming video service you may have in your arsenal. These services aren’t licensed to stream in Europe, so no sense in paying for them throughout the year. Turns out that if you pay for Spotify and you are current before you go, you can still stream music.
Car registration and insurance
Next Car insurance. Our registration renewals didn’t time out with our move, so we decided to transfer our insurance to a ‘storage’ status with our carrier Geico. The monthly rate goes down, and when you return and activate the insurance again they reimburse you 70% of what you paid the previous year, pretty great deal if you ask me.
Next the dreaded health insurance- we realized we just had to bite the bullet on this one and pay our (very high) monthly premium – being freelance we pay out of pocket- it was just too risky to be uninsured for the times we are back in the states during the course of the year.
Next up to bat: Cell phones. We have AT&T and just like every other carrier their international plans are HORRIBLE- so I called AT&T to see if we could put our plan on hold. Turns out you can… only thing is it only lasts 6 months then your payments must start again. This makes no sense at all to me. AT&T must have so much money that they don’t care about losing a customer they’ve had for many many years. So we decided to cancel our service. The thought of losing our numbers was too much though, so we contacted a company called US Mobile. For $10 a month you can port your number over to their SIM system and you can keep that number. We both unlocked our phones and will be getting a SIM card in each country in Europe when we arrive. I found it odd that there is no umbrella carrier in the EU, especially now that the Schengen zone ( the bane of my existence in travel planning) the border-free zone doesn’t have border free wireless. Nevertheless, all worth it, for the opportunity to travel.
Mail: I thought about this one a bit late in the game. We forwarded our mail to a friend who will be going through it and keeping the important looking envelopes.
Of course, we decide to go on this expedition on a Presidential election year… so we had to register for absentee ballots, for the Primary then for the Election. When you forward your mail you must also change your voter location. This is a bit sticky and tricky and I am still in the process of figuring it out. More to come.
Next a call to the cable/internet provider to cancel with them- you can do this in advance which is nice, you just choose a shut off date, then take your box in to UPS and ship it back, for free.
You may find yourself with random things you need to dispose of.
Here is a list of who to contact and how to do that.