Preparing to travel for a year when you have a house full of stuff


Welcome to the chaos (ok, our corridor isn’t that bad). The last few weeks have involved – and are involving – piles of books, clothes, things, weighing scales, brown paper and eBay.

It turns out I had too many great intentions when I began my English degree and now have a small surplus of excellent books I’d like to read – and should read – but haven’t. After battling my inner demons, and detaching myself from the self addressed label of “book girl”, I’m selling the ones that haven’t yet had a profound effect on my life. I’m actually finding it quite thrilling now, and wrapping books in brown paper is something of which I will never tire.

eBay was my first chosen port of call and whilst I am having some success, in retrospect, I’m not sure how profitable the activity is. Turns out eBay fees are a bit annoying and everyone wants their cut of my literature. But, so far, around 10 books in, I’m about £18 in profit. Which is better than nothing for sure.

I intended to sell my feeble DVD collection but eBay’s average value of 99p, free P&P greatly put me off. I instead turned to Music Magpie where I made around £10 for a bunch of DVDs, a few CDs and pretty much none of the hassle of eBay. I’ve now found Ziffit and regret not comparing prices.

One clause of being able to leave things with my parents is that I empty out all of my childhood stuff which remains there. Yep, 4 years after I moved out, my old room, cupboard and attic is full of, you guessed it, books. (And a few S Club CDs thrown in for good measure). A trip home is planned to sort, recycle, sell and jumble. I’m looking forward to it. It is a very cathartic experience and I’m thoroughly enjoying the slow but steady departure from my material world.

As a couple in an unfurnished flat, we predictably have a lot of other “stuff”. It’s the main problem. The furniture, the kitchenware (we are two people, why do we need 17 plates??) and the things in our studio. Stuart is a painter and I sew clothes, so the studio is pretty packed with ‘useful’ stuff. Paints, canvasses, patterns, threads, scraps of fabric, rolls never used. This is where our challenge lies – what do we really need? Stu is doing an excellent job of emptying his half and I’m being reluctant, cherishing material items entwined with memories and struggling to offload. I’ve realised the fabric scrap bin is ridiculous and I need to say goodbye to that. And for the rest? I have 5 months….


2 thoughts on “Preparing to travel for a year when you have a house full of stuff

  1. We’ve been through a number of downsizings Sarah, and if it’s any consolation, we had exactly the same dilemma. I’ve never considered myself overly fond of my possessions, but when it comes to getting rid of things, I have to rethink this. And the pertinent point here is that it took us a number of years and a number of iterations to get it right for us. Things that we thought were special 5 years ago are long gone, and we acquire things very carefully these days. So my advice is to be as ruthless as you can be, do your best to prepare for your trip, don’t beat yourself up too much, and have a great time. ~James


    1. Thank you James! I’m taking it one room at a time and getting there, slowly. It’s definitely an experience to redefine your relationship with your material goods! I’m grateful for the advice too – and so glad to have found your site – so many useful bits of information, and wonderful stories. Happy travels to the two of you! 🙂


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