Getting rid of everything has been hard.
No doubt about that. I’m finishing up my 6th year of living on my own and my place had acquired a lot of stuff. Let me give some advice to those that are starting the adventure themselves.
They will buy movies, books and video games from you and give you credit to use anywhere on the site. The nice thing is that they pay to ship the items to them. Simply type in what you want to get rid of, they give you a quote and you print out the shipping label. Easy as that. The resale value may not be as high as doing a private sale, but it is so convenient and there is no hassle at all. The funny thing is that the more random my DVD’s were the more money they were willing to offer ($6 for The Stand? Really? $6.25 for Mulan? ha ha, no shame in posting that I owned both of these movies). Same with my video games….who would have thought my copy of Cooking Mama would lead to half the expense of my sleeping bag?
The nice thing about this site is that once you post it on there it will then post your items on your facebook wall or other social networking sites. I had so much success from friends wanting to buy my things once they saw the postings. I have learned that your friends, family and coworkers are the best people to try to sell your things to. Plus, if they know about your travel plans then I think that they are more likely to support the cause.
This takes a lot of patience, and multiple postings. I had limited success with this but it is free and can help. I also got a little paranoid about meeting strangers to show my things but it all worked out. Don’t take offense as I did when strangers try to heckle you for the price. Stand firm unless you are desperate. Someone from Craig’s List is coming to look at my car tomorrow – let’s keep our fingers crossed!!
I found a guy advertised in mine who bought any DVD for a dollar each. Kind of funny – he didn’t actually care what I was selling and we made the deal in front of a Walmart. This very interesting looking gentleman shows up, says to me “you got the goods?” and we made the exchange. As shady as it may sound, it worked out well. I was able to unload the movies that amazon.com was unwilling to buy. Nice, easy cash.
If you live in a more populated area, Salvation Army will come and pick up anything that you want to give away. Unfortunately I was out of their pickup area so I used the United War Veterans Council and they took a lot of my kitchen things and other small items that I just didn’t feel like trying to sell. They specifically said no small furniture but I begged profusely and was able to unload a few bookcases as well (thanks Hector!) Honestly, with the amount of effort it would have taken to garage sale it and for the little money I would have received, I figured it would just be better to give it off to a good place. And it makes you feel good inside.
Post signs in the common break rooms and send mass emails with pictures of your things (if your company lets you do this – don’t be getting yourself in trouble!) I sold a lot of furniture this way. Several people bought it for their children that were just moving out and getting a place on their own. Write snazzy captions for what you are selling such as “What’s cooking good looking? Oh that’s right – you are if you buy this snazzy microwave!” It’s all about the captive audience. I even mentioned that my car was for sale before giving a speech for a coworker at our retirement dinner! Work is the best way to reach as many people as you can.
This was not my most successful way but some people did contact me about my items. One nice Danish lady came to look at my china cabinet, and while she wasn’t interested she did give me a nice long list of places to check out in Denmark.
When it came down to the end I still had things that I just couldn’t part with, such as photo albums, china, clothes and Christmas ornaments. I was surprised at just how willing people were to help me out with storage. Just don’t forget who got what.
You would be surprised at how quickly it will go once you don’t want money for it anymore. Tell friends, put it on the curb, and post it online. This has some exceptions, for instance I think a car is worth waiting awhile to get the money for.
Convince them they want it and don’t take no for an answer. If people hesitated even the slightest then I would press the issue. With a little convincing, most people will take anything for free. I created little gift baskets for friends of items that I personally felt that they would like. For instance, my own friend is really into Asian art and I basically offered him every Asian piece I had. Your friends will appreciate the thoughtfulness.
This idea was suggested to me after I had pretty much gotten rid of everything and I wish I had thought of it sooner.
If there is anything that I have learned from this experience it’s that friends and family are your best tool to help you shed your possessions and get on with the traveling! Never hesitate to ask for help. When it’s all gone you will experience something that you never had. You will know the sensation of not being tied down and you will be free to truly enjoy all that life has to offer. The transition before your trip can be extremely stressful and hard, especially if you are doing it all on your own like me. There were times when I just wanted to give in and give up because it really can become overwhelming when you look around your place and take in all that you need to get rid of, but just stick with it because life will be so grand afterwards. At the time of this writing I can happily say that I went from an entire apartment to just 10 boxes of possessions in about 2 months. You can do it! Happy travels all!
Behind the Backpack
Lauren Watson put her teaching career on hold in the U.S., sold her possessions, and is backpacking solo around the world. Her next stop is Australia where she is planning a working holiday - before hitting the road for more traveling. Read more stories in her journal Goodbye New Jersey. Hello World!