When you’re travelling for an extended period, it’s wise to take precautions to safeguard the possessions you value. Given how expensive it is to set up home and collect all you need for a comfortable life, you may not want to sell everything before you go.

So what do you do with the things you leave behind? You have three options:

  • Ask friends or family to look after them
  • Put them into self storage
  • Simply leave them at home

Leaving items at home makes them vulnerable to opportunistic thieves or accidents like floods or fire. Leaving them with friends might not be suitable if items are numerous or bulky, although may work for small items for short periods. Self storage has the advantage of space for everything all together, and is especially useful if you’re planning an extended trip and intend renting out your home while you’re gone. Which you chose depends on individual circumstances, but here are some of the main items to consider along with how to pack them.

1. Bedding, linen, and clothes

Make sure everything is clean and dry before storing to avoid mildew or mould, and then pack them safely in wardrobe boxes. Specialist furs or leathers should never be packed in vacuum bags.

2. Bike

If you’re leaving the wheels on, inflate the tyres so the bike isn’t resting on the rims. Give it a thorough clean with a soft brush to remove dirt and debris, paying particular attention to the drive train where grease can attract extra dirt. Make sure all cables are lubricated so they don’t deteriorate while in store.

3. Mattress

Buy a plastic mattress bag to protect it from dust and store it flat. We’re often tempted to store mattresses on their ends to save space, but it’s best not to, especially if you’re going to be away for some time. If you’re moving large items in a van, it’s okay to transport the mattress on its side, just don’t leave it that way in storage.

4. Furniture

If it comes apart, dismantle furniture as far as possible to save space. Taking the legs off tables and dismantling bed frames, for instance, can save several feet of storage space. Remember to put all the screws and fixings into a plastic bag and tape this to the item they belong to. Use a good quality polish on wooden furniture for protection, and treat leather items with a leather protector to keep them supple.

5. TV and other electronic equipment

These prime possessions are good candidates for self storage, especially larger items like TVs which may be too bulky for relatives to store, but which you won’t want left in plain view at home while you’re away. Store them in the original boxes, or buy replacements. If you can’t get hold of boxes, wrap electronics in blankets or a plastic covering to protect them from dust and damage.

6. Personal items of sentimental value

Photo albums, external hard drives and flash drives should be packed safely into boxes which are then sealed to protect them from dust. Protect treasured decorative items with bubble wrap then pack them into boxes. Fill any spaces with spare packing material so the items don’t knock into each other when the boxes are moved.

7. Kitchen equipment

Cleaning then packing away decent kitchen equipment removes it from view and keeps it in good working order. Original boxes come in handy, but any sturdy cardboard boxes are suitable containers. Seal the lids to protect the equipment inside and make boxes easier to safely stack.

8. Mirrors and artwork

Store these upright, never flat. Wrap them in blankets or bubble wrap and use cardboard corners for extra protection. Mark them as fragile to inform others, and as a reminder to yourself later. Purpose-made boxes are available for paintings or mirrors.

9. Lawnmowers and other garden equipment

Clean everything and make sure working parts are oiled. Clean grass off mower blades and wipe them over with a greasy rag to preserve the edge.

10. Antiques

If you do have any specialist items like antiques, they’ll be safer in secure self-storage with adequate insurance rather than stored with family or friends. Don’t stack antiques on top of each other, always wrap legs in blankets or bubble wrap, and disassemble fragile pieces, such as mirrors from dressing tables or lampshades from bases.

Setting off on travels is exciting, but only if you’re not worried about prized possessions left behind. With a bit of planning, you can make sure everything stays safe for your return.

Big Yellow Self Storage | logoThis post was written by Drew Davies who writes for Big Yellow Self Storage. For more information see their website or buy packing supplies from their box shop.