Packing Up the House for Travel

📦 8 Tips for Packing Up Your House to Travel Australia

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So, you’ve decided to pack it all in to head off and travel Australia? That’s super exciting, although I do know just how overwhelming the entire process can be.

Packing up your house to travel Australia is a huge task and can feel quite daunting when you’re in the middle of it. There are some important stages to tick off along the way to ensure that you’re completely packed, organised and ready to go.

The earlier you can get started the easier the whole packing task will be for you. Along with the territory comes a huge adjustment period that you’ll all go through while sorting, culling and packing, so allow yourself the time and space for this to happen.

It can tend to feel like the light at the end of the tunnel will never arrive! With so much to do, you may find yourself wondering if it’s all even worth it. Trust me, when you’re off living your dream, above all you’ll look back and think, “heck yes, that was worth it!”

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Packing Up Your House to Travel Australia

Go Easy On Yourself

Getting Organised - Packing Up House To Travel

You know, packing up your life is not easy. With every single item that you pick up you need to make a decision, “should I keep it, sell it, donate it or chuck it?” It’s exhausting, both physically and emotionally!

The best advice I can give is to allow yourself to feel what you feel, then let it go.

Expectations

Humans get so attached to our stuff and believe that without those items our identity and memories will somehow fade.  For the most part this is just clever marketing, which we’ve been programmed with all of our lives. 

We often feel like we need to keep certain items that people have given to us, otherwise we might offend them.  This obligation is really just based on someone else’s expectations, not your own. When someone gifts you something, what you choose to do with it is entirely up to you, not anyone else, so don’t feel bad for re-homing items if they doesn’t fit in with you.

Handy Tip – If you really want to be able to look at particular items (to hold on to those memories), take a photo of them. Create a folder on your computer for those special keepsakes, so that you can take them with you wherever you go.  Bonus – they don’t take up any physical space this way!


Sort In Layers

Tips for Packing up the House

It may seem really simple as you begin packing up your house for travel, one room at a time to completely sort everything.

The reality is though, sorting and culling happens in layers (or stages). Sorting in layers makes it easier for us to allow the process to happen naturally and to let go of things without being completely overwhelmed by it all.  

Every time you go through a section, be really strict about what stays and what goes.

A helpful mantra when packing up your house:

Ask yourself these questions:

  • “Do I use this item?”
  • “Does this item inspire me?”
  • “Would I buy this item if I saw it on a shelf today?”

It costs a lot to keep your things (in terms of money, time and maintenance), hence why it’s important to be ruthless. Do you really want to hang on to those items that have been hidden away in boxes for the past 10 years?  

We are acquiring new stuff all the time, so why do we feel the need to hang on to the old stuff as though it’s the Great Depression? You can live without all those extra handbags and tools you never use!

You may feel like you’ve completely sorted one section, only to come back to it a few days later and realise there are even more things you’re now ready to let go of.


List, Lists, Lists!

Lists - Packing Up the House to Travel

I cannot recommend this enough – make lists and lots of them!  Make separate lists for everything you can think of that needs to be done, bought, sold, donated, packed, organised, re-homed, stored, you name it. 

Be sure to find somewhere to have all of your lists spread out where you can easily see them ALL the time (a table or on the fridge are good spots).  As you do a task, cross it off the list – it’s so satisfying and you feel like you are actually achieving something.


Donate It

Donate - Packing up House to Travel

Designate a box for ‘Donations

First of all, as you’re sorting, put things you want to donate straight into your ‘Donations’ box.  Secondly, place this box into your boot regularly to drop the donations off, as this keeps the stuff moving out of the house and the clutter down.  Consequently, it also reduces the chance of family members diving into the box to ‘reclaim’ items!  

Every time I went into town, I’d go straight to the op shop and empty my boot out. The ladies there already knew me quite well, being a regular shopper, but they got to know me even better once the house was under contract!

Where To Drop Donations:

  • Charity shops
  • Homeless shelters
  • Kindergartens
  • Playgroups
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Community centres
  • Animal shelters
  • Friends/ family/ neighbours


Sell It

Sell it - Packing up the House

Designate a box for ‘Selling

Some things are worth selling (especially if you’re getting rid of all your belongings) and we could all use the extra moolah.  

It no doubt varies for different locations, but I found that the local Facebook ‘Buy/ Swap/ Sell’ groups were the quickest and easiest way to sell our stuff, plus they’re free. Other good avenues are Gumtree, eBay or having an old fashioned Garage Sale.  

Keep in mind your time frame as you’re packing up your house for travel.  Also consider how much energy you want to put into the selling game.  

My rule for the smaller stuff was, if it didn’t sell within a few days, it went into the ‘donations’ pile.  It just wasn’t worth my time.  The bigger/ more expensive stuff I gave longer and it did all sell in time.


Store It

Storage - Packing up House

Designate a box for ‘Storage

Whether you have decided to store some or all of your belongings depends entirely on your individual situation.  We sold up with no plans of moving into another house, so we didn’t store anything besides two small boxes of keepsakes with family members.  If we do decide to settle somewhere in the future, we can always acquire more ‘stuff.’

If you are renting your house out while you travel, then storing your things may be a bit more essential.  You could look at renting the place fully furnished, saving you the trouble of moving the furniture at all.  It might even be possible for you to designate one space on your property for your personal storage (locked and not to be accessed by tenants of course)- a room in the house, a shed or space in the shed.  

Another way some people store their items is by setting an old shipping container down on their property (or that of a friend or relative) that holds their stuff and stays locked up.  Otherwise, you may need to hire a storage unit to stockpile your gear into.  The downside to this is that it adds another expense to your travel budget.

Whichever way you decide to go, the sooner you can get the arrangements in place and start relocating some of your stuff the better (besides the essential pieces that you won’t be able to move until the end).


Use Up What You’ve Already Got

Groceries - Packing up House to Travel

Now this one may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how much we impulse buy at the grocery store each week.  Have a look at what you’ve already got in your fridge, freezer and pantry and write a list (yes, I love lists!) of meals you can make with what you’ve already got.  

Then write a grocery list for just the essentials that you need.  Similarly, this applies to toiletries and cleaning products.  Trust me, come moving out day, you don’t want to be throwing out perfectly good food or carting it out the door.  You will have enough on your plate.


Don’t Forget Your Mail

Mail

A hugely important task as you’re packing up your house for travel, is changing your address.  Hopefully you’ve got a friend or family member that is happy to have you use their address as your mailing address (if you won’t have a primary place of residence any more).

PO Box

Another option is to get yourself a Post Office Box, although you will still need a residential address for this.  Along with this there is the option to get your mail redirected for free from a street address to your post box.

Change Address Online

Make a list of all of the organisations that you need to change your details with.  Go to each organisation’s website and change your address online with as many as you can.

Go Paperless

While you’re at it, change your preferences to receive your mail via email (that way you can still receive your mail on the go) if possible.  There may be a few companies that require you to call them so that they can make the changes over the phone.  

* NOTE – Banks are notorious for still sending mail to your old address, so you might need to triple check with them that every address on every account has indeed been changed.

Start Early

If you start this process about a month before you leave, it should give you enough time to see what arrives in the mail that you may have forgotten about.  However, just before you move out of your house, you can get your mail redirected if you wish (for a fee), just in case there is anything you have missed.  I didn’t bother with this as I knew that all of the important ones were sorted.

Some Institutions to consider:

  • Banks/ Credit Unions
  • Credit Cards
  • Insurance (Car/ House/ Contents)
  • Insurance (Life/ Income/ Funeral)
  • Insurance (Health/ Ambulance)
  • Storage Company (if applicable)
  • Electricity/ Gas
  • Superannuation
  • Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
  • Australian Electoral Commission (AEC)
  • Centrelink/ Pension
  • Medicare
  • Local Council (Rates/ Pet Registration/ Community Services etc.)
  • Water/ Sewerage
  • Pet Microchip Registry & Vet
  • Childcare/ School/ TAFE/ University
  • Employer
  • Driver’s Licence
  • Vehicle Registrations
  • Toll Tags
  • Phones
  • Internet
  • Accountant/ Solicitor
  • Dentist/ Doctor/ Physio etc.
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Library
  • Loyalty Programs & Store Cards (eg. FlyBuys, Myer One)
  • Subscriptions (Pay TV/ Newspaper/ Magazine)
  • Clubs and Memberships
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Packing Up to Travel Australia (Planner)

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Now it’s over to you! I hope these tips can help you along in your journey and make the transition a bit smoother.  It’s not every day you get to pack up your house to travel Australia, maybe you’ll even enjoy the process!

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26 thoughts on “📦 8 Tips for Packing Up Your House to Travel Australia”

  1. Packing house and transferring to a new place is really a very big job and needs lot of planning. But i loved your valuable tip on about taking photos while packing so that sorting becomes easier while reopening.

  2. Great post! As someone who has packed up and moved across international borders about once a year for the past three years (and will likely continue to do so for some time), it is really important to avoid collecting a bunch of stuff you don’t necessarily want or need. Mail (and bureaucracy in general) is a really good thing to bring up as well.

    1. Wow Kevin, that sounds fantastic! Yeah stuff can really weigh us down. It’s so important to evaluate our material items regularly and make sure we just surround ourselves with those things that we love and use.

  3. These are great tips I will be using this for when I move. I have been at most of my stuff and really do not know why I hang onto it. I will be doing alot of donating.

    1. Isn’t it funny how we hang on to the strangest of items. We attach so much sentimental value to things unconsciously. Great idea to do a cull.

  4. Start early, that probably the best advice, though all of them are great but starting early will help you with not feeling overwhelmed. Its a really great article and list. I hope i dont have to move house again, but if i will I will come back to your article.

  5. I’m so impressed that you got all of your stuff down to two boxes. I definitely have so pack rat tendencies and find it hard to part with stuff. These are great tips that will help me. Thanks!

  6. These are all great lists and I so agree, it is so easy to accumulate things you don’t need. I live in a boating community and some use a mail service. They will scan your mail and send it to you, which is super handy for important notices and bills, etc. This post reminds me I need to do a general clean!

  7. I could have definitely used this a couple of years ago when we did a big move. It does require a lot of planning, organizing and time to be able to pull it off. There are bound to be things you miss and your guide is very thorough, especially your items to consider that I wish I had to make it all go a bit smoother. We did a big purge before we put out stuff in storage and then eventually moved. My goal was not to have any unpacked boxes that never found a home. It is amazing how much stuff we tend to hang onto.

    1. We really are creatures of habit, aren’t we. It’s funny how we can get so attached to such simple items without even realising that we’re doing it. Even in the caravan we have to purge and cull regularly.

  8. Awesome article !
    Am currently in the process of sorting through our house and a granny flat with the aim to sell up and go in 2-3 years. Your article tells me I am on the right track and has given me the inspiration to keep going. Thx.

    1. I think some of these are really great tips even for people who aren’t moving, but just want to make money to travel or live a more minimalist lifestyle! I’m going to figure out what I can donate within our small home to give me more peace of mind (clutter is driving me crazy) and I’m going to hold myself to selling as much as I can for cash to contribute to our travel fund!

      1. Absolutely! You don’t have to be travelling to lead a minimalist lifestyle. Everyone can reap the benefits, so it’s totally worth culling and making some cash out of your things that aren’t bringing you satisfaction anymore. Why not if you can add to a travel fund 🙂

  9. It’s amazing how you SO don’t miss most of your ‘stuff’ when you finally hit the road. We unpacked the stored stuff about 2 years after packing it up to be stored – and wondered why we’d kept most of it!!! Don’t underestimate the length of time that mail will still turn up at your old address either – luckily, we’d sold our house to someone who was happy enough to forward any mail that turned up to our PO Box. It was still turning up 18 months later. The biggest culprits? Banks, and friends who only kept in touch at Xmas time!!!

    1. You really don’t once you let it go do you. I can’t even remember what I did have, it’s unimportant now! Yes banks do seem to be the worst for not changing all addresses over- you’d think they’d be on top of the game.

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