It’s Time to Plot Your Escape

December 2, 2011 | , ,

So you’ve decided it’s time to make your dream of living your ideal life, anywhere in the world, a reality. Your money plan is in place, and you’re starting to get a handle on what this adventure will actually look like.

The next step is to free yourself of all the trappings of your location-dependent life so you can plot your escape. This is Step 2 in the 7 Steps to a Life of Travel.

First, think about where you currently live. Are you renting? If so, when does your lease run out? Are you allowed to sublet? If you own your place, do you want to sell? Or do you want to keep the property and rent it out or do home exchange?

What about all the stuff that’s currently in your home? Remember, everything you don’t get rid of will need to be stored somewhere or will have to go with you.

  • Are you going to keep everything?
  • Do you need to do some paring down and put the rest in storage somewhere?
  • Are you going to get rid of everything?
  • If you’re going to rent/sublet your place, what will you need to keep (or obtain) for renters, and what will have to be removed from your house, like personal documents and valuables?

Keeping everything is definitely not recommended! There’s no question that the less stuff you have, the better off you’ll be in the long run (even if you don’t go anywhere!). No matter whether you want to sublet, break your lease, sell your house, rent, or do home exchange, the less you have, the less there will be to worry about. The less you’ll have to store, and the less you’ll have to take care of (or ask someone else to take care of).

The sooner you start decluttering, the better. If your departure date is still a year or more in the future, you could start getting rid of stuff now and move to a smaller place so you can save money while you’re still planning your next move.

A lot has already been written about how to declutter; here are some of my favorites on the subject:
Twenty Questions to Clear Your Clutter
Declutter Your Fantasy Self (this sounds strange, but the concept is great)
How to Declutter
How to Get Rid of All Your Crap

In addition to getting rid of stuff, also start working on the other side of the problem: Don’t let anything new into your home. Unless it’s something that you are sure you will need for your new lifestyle, now is the time to STOP buying things. Every time you think about buying something, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I going to take this with me when I become location independent?
  • Do I need this right now?
  • Will something else get me by?
  • Is it important enough that it will be worth storing/saving when I go?

Obviously, if the answers to some of these questions are NO, then don’t buy it!

Also think about your bigger possessions, like furniture and cars, and when to get rid of them. If you have two cars, can you get rid of one sooner than later? If you have a lot of stuff, start purging now.

If you have lots of pictures and don’t want to keep the albums, start scanning the pictures now. If you have too many clothes, start paring down your closet NOW. This stuff takes a lot longer than you think it might, and it’s worth doing as soon as you’re motivated to get started. And, seeing some empty space in your home will make it feel more real, and make it seem feasible to actually live out of a backpack/suitcase!

I’ve heard that one of the best ways to declutter is to pretend you’re moving abroad. So if you’re actually moving abroad, even better! Determine what you’ll actually take with you, what’s worth saving, and what needs to go.

As you get closer to becoming location independent and hitting the road, you’ll have to figure out what to do with other things like foodstuffs, plants, pets, important documents… For the latter, I’d recommend scanning as much as you can, and then leaving any hard copies either with a trusted friend/family member or in a safe deposit box at a bank. You might even put everything in a little fireproof box so you don’t have to worry about any disasters befalling your stuff while someone else is looking after it.

Once you know what you’re going to do with your stuff, consider how those decisions will affect your money plan:

  • Will you have income from your home while you’re gone?
  • Will you have storage costs?
  • Will you make some money by selling furniture and other items before you go?
  • What will you need to buy before you go?

After you’ve done that, you’ll have a better idea of one of the most exciting parts of planning a life of travel: deciding where to go, and sorting out travel logistics so you can hit the road! Read all about it in Step 3: Part 1, How to Decide Where to Go and Step 3: Part 2, Sorting Out Travel Logistics.

Good luck!

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