Garage Sale

How to sell everything you own to travel the world

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How to Sell Everything and Travel

I’ve been dreaming of being a full-time traveler since I first learned of backpacking almost a decade ago.  Although various life circumstances kept that dream from coming to fruition the desire only grew as I began seeing the world bit by bit. Then, I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided that if I ever wanted my dream to come true, I had to take action. So 6-months ago, I made the decision to dump my boyfriend, sell everything I own, take my location independent business on the road, and become a full-time nomad.

I’m tired of having stuff. I’m tired of playing that domestic girlfriend role. It’s not me. I always asked myself, “why am I here? I know this doesn’t make me happy.” It gets worse though; I already knew what makes me happy. It wasn’t a person either. I’d been on a 5-month backpacking trip through South America and a 6-week volunteer trip to Vanuatu solo… those are the only moments in my life where I can say I was truly happy. So why was I sitting at home, working in my little home office, and cooking stew in a damn crock-pot hosting game night for my friends? I don’t know.

It’s about time I woke up. Who in their right mind would just sit around doing what makes them unhappy when they could very well be doing what makes them happy. Seems like some poor decision making to me!

On top of the world!

Make the Decision to Go (or not).

I remember being in utter turmoil trying to figure out what to do. I didn’t know whether I should stay in a long-term relationship and never follow my dreams or dump him for a chance at the unknown.

I couldn’t figure out what direction to go. I tortured myself for an entire 2 months by racking my brain. What if I made the wrong decision? What if I lost the love of my life? What if I wasn’t capable of doing it? Can I maintain my business on the road indefinitely? Ect. Then, one day I woke up and I was lifeless. I knew that I couldn’t do this to myself anymore and that I had to make a decision. I decided there were rules to this decision; once it was made it was final. There was no turning back or flip-flopping mind-changes. What would be done, would be done. Even if I made the wrong decision, I would stick with it to the very end. That, in itself, was incredibly scary.

But I knew. Deep down I knew. Ultimately, I decided that life wasn’t worth a compromise. We only live once and as painful as it was to admit, I’d rather be with someone who shared my dream rather than compromising it to be with someone. So I left. Now what? Let’s transform that Dream into Reality. To keep the dream alive I feed myself tons of inspiration by going to the travel section in the book store, reading travel blogs, or check out sites like  http://www.escapetravel.com.au for destinations advice and great discount on flights and tours.

Tell Everyone You Know

It’s hard to make a big change. I knew that if I told everyone what I was going to do, I’d do it. If not, maybe I’d procrastinate or find some excuse or you know, stuff.  But by telling everyone I knew, I’d rather die trying, than have to cowardly come back saying I didn’t have the guts to do it. I was more afraid of that, than actually taking the steps to live my dream. By telling everyone, it forced me to begin to take action.

Take Baby Steps

It took me a while to realize that my dream was coming true. By the time I told the 100th person I think I started to believe it myself. I was in my apartment, the scenery hadn’t changed, so it was easy to pretend that everything was normal. That’s our defense mechanism kicking in because change is fucking scary. I began taking baby steps towards my new lifestyle so that I could visibly see things were going to be different real soon. A huge change is a shock to the system. Every day I would take a small step towards my goal. These items included: saving money, preparing my business for full-time location independence, listing items on craigslist, having garage sales, building new internet businesses, connecting with other travelers, and trip-planning (although I admit I haven’t planned much). Every small step is a step in a new direction.

 

Lil' Zulu... Gonna have to say good-bye soon. :(

 

Learn to Let Go

There are a lot of things I have to let go of. My friends. My ex-boyfriend. My apartment. Everything I own. My dogs. You’re destroying your past life. I’d be lying if I said it was easy. I’ve learned to cherish life as it happens and be thankful for those I have in my life right now. It’s funny how your mind-set changes when you know your losing something or someone.

When I was sorting through my belongings I kept very few things that were sentimental to me. If it was replaceable, like an electronic, I got rid of it. I kept cards from my grandma, books my dad wrote in, and a few letters. Everything else is just stuff. You’ll get over it. The second you walk out that door towards your new life, you’ll forget about all of it. You might even kick yourself for making such a big deal out of a freakin’ object. You don’t have less now, you have more. Remember that.

All my books to sell!

Begin Listing Your Items on Craigslist, Ebay, and Amazon

In order to maximize your profits when you sell your items list them on Craigslist, Ebay, and Amazon first. This is where you’ll be able to find niche buyers for the specific items you own. They’ll pay the most money. Do this 6-months out from your departure, earlier if you have the luxury of time.

Be careful bringing people to your house off of Craigslist as I had to call the cops on a psycho who bought a massage table from me.

Sell Leftover Books, CDs, DVDs, and Clothes to Specialty Stores

When you’re 2 months from leaving, begin taking your leftover books, cds, dvds, and clothes to specialty stores like CD warehouse, used clothes resellers, Half-Price Books, and such to get a few dollars per item. On some items you’ll get more at these stores than you would at a garage sale. My DVD’s went for $3 or 4 for $10 at my garage sales.

Garage Sale

Have Garage Sales

You’re last resort is a garage sale. This is where buyers come in search of bargains so be ready to price your items to sell.  Don’t think about how much you paid for something, think about how much someone would be willing to pay for it. It might be insulting, but remember this is necessary to move to your new lifestyle.

You’ll want to start having garage sales around 2-months before you depart. Have them every other weekend until your items purge down to a minimal size.  When you end up with a small lot of random items, have an everything must go, everything’s a $1 garage sale.

Garage Sale Tips

  • Make it easy to browse your items.
  • Hang up clothes and arrange by size and/or type (ie: women’s, men’s, childrens)
  • Have it on Saturday morning from 7 -11 am (or longer if people keep arriving)
  • Post it on Craigslist the day before – Mention your intent to sell everything you own.
  • Have coffee ready for people to drink while browsing.
  • Since you know you’re going to have a few garage sales, keep in-demand items priced accordingly. If they aren’t selling slowly move the price down as the day goes on or as the weekends pass by. You may be able to wait for the right buyer willing to pay! Then, again, don’t be such a hard-ass that none of your items sell.

Donate

When your finished with your ‘everything must go’ garage sale, bring the rest to good will or wherever else you can donate your items. Pat yourself on the back and consider yourself free of stuff. Now there is nothing for you to come back to. Go out and live your dream!

Need more help selling off your items? Check out “Sell Your Crap” from ManvsDebt.

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  • Justin Guzman

    Wow separating with our pets would probably be the hardest part of letting go to travel the world. I dont know that we could do it. I think often of moving to Brazil for a few months to practice Jiu Jitsu. I cannot get past what would we do with the animals. It must be truly amazing to be free of all things that hold your mind and body back. I am however listing items and taking the baby steps towards reducing stuff in my life. Perhaps one day I will be able to have my own worldly adventures.

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      I don’t know how I’m going to let go of Zulu. All I do know is that I’m cherishing the time I have left with her. I can’t tell you how hard it is, but I can’t not go.

      It may hurt, but you can truely be free, you just have to make the decision to be. One step at a time.

      • Billy

        truly

  • Robin P.

    Well this is awesome Jenny! Your young venture out go for it!! IF I had to do it all over again I would definately think different and venture out more. I have lived in 3 other states besides the one i grew up in but would love to just say screw this and travel! Yes the hardest thing to give up is your animals I so agree with Justin on that.
    Good Luck Jenny and will be following you.

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      Thanks Robin! Very hard to stay good-bye to something you love dearly to pursue a different life.

  • http://www.dayswithmydaughter.com Renee in BC

    Good for you Jenny! Do you have family that can take the dogs or will you find them a new permanent home?

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      Thanks Renee. My dog will be going with my parents. You can read more about it here:Dog Dilemma Resolved

      • http://www.dayswithmydaughter.com Renee in BC

        Looks like I’ve got some catching up to do here! Thanks for the link. I’m really pleased your mom and dad are able to help.

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  • http://www.baconismagic.ca Ayngelina

    My situation was similar to yours, I was in a 5-year relationship and didn’t want to go so now I’m traveling alone. I’d say it’s not only an option in your 20s, I’m 33 and it’s never hard to choose happiness.

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      Well, given that I just turned 29… I’m not far behind you. Time of my life. :)

  • http://camelsandchocolate.com CamelsAndChocolate

    That’s an adorable picture of you! I wish I weren’t so materialistic–when I left for Europe for a year and a half, I just stored everything in my parents’ attic!

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      Thanks! I’m sad to see my stuff go, but I’ll get over it. :) There are a few things that I kept some logical some sentimental.

  • http://castlesintheair.org Nina Yau

    Way to go, Jenny! Now’s the time. Now or never! I’m heading to Taiwan next month for 5-6 months the first go around. I’m only coming back to the States in June 2011 for 3 reasons: 1) See my family again, 2) Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit, and 3) my childhood friend’s wedding (I’m a bridesmaid, so can’t skip out on this one, damn! lol)

    It feels great to just be one with the world. Home is the world now.

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      Awesome. I agree. Now or Never… gotta make the life you want before you get comfortable with the one you have… My home is the world now, and I’m stoked on that. I’ll see you at the World Domination Summit then. Be sure to find me. :)

      • http://castlesintheair.org Nina Yau

        Absolutely! I’ll just look for the really cool-looking skater chick who’s kicking ass in life left and right. :)

  • http://www.2knowmyself.com Farouk

    wow, i like what you are doing, i want to travel around the world too, i plan to start as soon as next year :)

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      SWEET! Get planning and let me know if I can help in any way.

  • http://twitter.com/BAbackpacker Breakaway Backpacker

    Man oh Man getting up at 6am for those garage sales have not been fun…. Spending a few hours each Sunday for a while helping you de-clutter and get ready have been lots of fun. My experience in helping you get ready for your big adventure is priceless and I mean it. I have enjoyed every minute of it and am glad we got you at this point today. I was your partner in crime…i know the evil throw away everything one but it was necessary.

    EEEEeee can’t believe you leave in 20 days. Ummm are you having some type of going away party or dinner or anything???

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      Yeah. That’s why I did the last one at 8:30 am I did NOT want to get up at 6am again! I don’t know how you think decluttering is somehow FUN…. but whateve. I guess it’s easy to trash shit that ain’t yours!

      Thanks for the help, you’ve been amazing. We need to hook-up soon, I’ll be leaving in a few weeks.

  • http://www.theaussienomad.com The Aussie Nomad

    What got me over the line and finally turning the dream into reality was telling my family and friends. Once they knew you couldn’t change your mind. Congrats on selling up mate, not long till you head off now I can imagine the feeling with such a short time to go.

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      Thanks! I’m sooo freakin’ excited. Happy to go spend some time with my parents and transition my dogs over to their new home… that’ll be the sad part. It’ll be good to spend some quality time with my family (brother, parents, and grandma) before I leave though.

  • http://declutter100.com DK

    Great advice and just wanted to say good luck on your new path :-)

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      Thanks DK! :)

  • http://twitter.com/oncall_nurse On Call Nurse

    It is my dream to travel the world too. I admire your courage to turn your back on everything and live your dream. This is a very wonderful post. The best treasures are those kept in your memories, close to your heart and soul. I wish you the best of luck, Jenny!

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      Thanks!!! :)

      BTW. Act on your dream, if you dont’ take actionable steps now, it’ll never happen.

  • http://twitter.com/NEFootsteps Lauren

    With 8 months to go until I leave for my RTW trip, I having to start doing exactly this! I have SO much junk, most of which I haven’t even used for years. I’m looking forward to de-cluttering and making some money out of all this stuff! :)

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      Awesome Lauren, Be sure to let me know how it goes. Decluttering feels awesome! Good luck.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the tips Jenny.

    One Question: you recommended taking CD’s to a specialty store (i.e. used-cd store), do you think I would get more there or selling them as a large batch on Craigslist? I ask b/c i originally planned to post the entire collection (about 150) on Craigslist as one item for about $150.

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      If it were me, I’d go to the CD store and see what they would offer me. If it was less than $150, I’d try to sell on Craigslist as a lot first. If it was $150 or close to that, I’d sell them to the CD store to save the hassle. If that Craigslist then somehow didn’t work out how you wanted it, I’d go back to the CD store and sell them.

      I have a lot of books that I’d get $150-$200 for at Half Price Books… but I’m going to list them on Amazon individually because rather than get $2-3 per book I’ll get $10-15 (they’re expensive design books). With the ones that don’t sell after a given time frame, I’ll take them to Half Price books. This maximizes my profits.

  • http://bayareamija.wordpress.com/ asalvesen

    Jenny,
    Wow! When I read this blog post I felt like my research was done; everything I needed to know about getting ready to travel the world was right there in one post. If I were to follow in your footsteps, the part I would have the hardest time with is finding my dog a new home. You are very brave to be able to walk away from it all and begin a new adventure! I am really looking forward to hosting you when you travel to the San Francisco Bay Area. We have a little dog you can play with.

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      Glad I could add to your learnings!!! I made $2,891.17 and that’s not including 2 nice apple computers and all my books.

      My dogs will have a great new home with my parents. I’m stoked about the arrangement and I know they’ll be well taken care of. Hopefully you can find someone you trust that will take your dog!

      Can’t wait to meet you in San Fransisco.

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  • http://twitter.com/cramlon cramlon

    Just discovered your blog! Thanks for a great post! So many good ideas! I have to say that I’ve been very lazy at planning my departure as I’ve had a very busy few months, but now that the date is creeping up (March 2011) I will spend my weekends trying to sell as much as I can. Shame that here in the UK garage sales are not that popular. I will have to rely mainly on Ebay… Good luck! I will be following your adventures!

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      Wow. You need to get busy! I was the same way… in that I used my busyiness as an excuse to delay selling everything. I was afraid. Then I manned up with the help of Jaime from Breakaway Backpacker and started moving on it. You’ll need all the time you can get. It takes MUCH longer than you think to prepare. Besides ebay, try any sort of local selling website (like Craigslist) to sell larger furniture type items. I made over $2k doing that.

  • Samantha Business

    This is the coolest thing Ive ever read on the internet. I hope to find a job where I can just travel all over and have a day off to do this too. That would be my dream.

  • http://frostymint.blogspot.com/ Rin

    I’m so excited for you! I can see there’s only 2 days left. From reading your posts [I haven't finished them all] I understand that this has been your plan for a while and you have done some extensive research as well, and of course you’ve had quite some experience backpacking. So I guess it’s not something you’d recommend someone do on a whim.

    Anyway, good luck and happy backpacking!

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  • http://twitter.com/SilverAntigen Ags

    Zulu is just adorable. I can see how hard the separation must have been. I’m also trying to get rid of most of my stuff before June, then all of it by December. Did you use Baker’s “Sell your Crap” guides or did you just sell it? I’ve been contemplating the guides for a while. The reason: shipping! I suck at estimating how much shipping would it be if I sold my books on Amazon or my stuff on Ebay. How did you do it?

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  • Jeff H

    I decided to sell my house and my business and travel for a few months. The reality has set in more and more and I cant tell you how nice it is to read your story. Just to know I am not alone in this and these feeling is great… Thank you!!! I hope your adventures are amazing…

  • Mystdesagitta

    This sounds like my dream.  I wish I could do this, I’ve always wanted this since i was 20.  I married but have a dream job that allows me to live where ever I want. I’d have to leave my wife and that fact doesn’t bother me.  I guess I’m just scared……

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

      You can do this. All you have to do is make a choice. It’s your life, nobody can tell you what to do.

  • Stalkingvengeance

    I only ever meet women like this on the road. :)

  • Joshua

    I’m 20 now, and I hate it where I live. Right in the middle of Texas, sweating my butt off day-in and day-out with no friends. I’m nowhere near a materialistic person, so selling all of my stuff is extremely easy for me. Working on that right now, I have a $20 patio furniture chair in my living room after selling my couch.

    The only thing holding me back, and the only thing I absolutely refuse to get rid of is my dog. I’ve had him since I was a young child. I had no friends, I got bullied all the time, etc… and i’d come home to the most loving dog a boy could ask for. He literally saved my life twice from some strange dogs out loose in my apartment complexes! He is going on 15 years old now, nearly twice the expected 8years for his breed. I’ll wait until he dies of old age before setting out in to the world.

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

       Leaving my dogs was the hardest thing about the decision I made to sell everything and travel the world indefinitely. I’m on day 536 and it’s still hard. I think of them everyday. I can understand your attachment to your dog. There’s something about Zulu, a connection, that I haven’t felt with any other living thing on this planet, including humans. She puts my heart at peace and her personality has taught me more about life than I care to admit. Zulu was young when I left her. Just 4 years old, so I couldn’t wait or separate her from her sister Kibu (who doesn’t travel well) to take her with me. If she was close to her dying age… I would have waited until she left to leave… but since she wasn’t I had to give her another life and hope that her heart understood my decision. I know it was really hard on her as she doesn’t do well without me around. You are 20 years old and have your whole life ahead of you… and it sounds like the world has so much to offer and teach you after your life’s hardships. If I were you, I would work for the next few years to save up a shit ton of money being as frugal as possible, plan your dream life, and work to make it happen with the time you have left with your best friend. When she leaves, take off and never look back. But don’t let that time you have to wait, suck you into mediocrity and kill your dream.

  • richard

    Loved it, trying to do the same thing

  • Dreamer

    I want to do this so badly. But my family is treating my desire to travel like a whim that will pass – even though they know it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. The thing is, I work in the family business (dog grooming), and I’ve finally finished training and started to make good money doing it, so everyone thinks I’m insane to want to leave my secure job for an obscure future in other countries. I don’t have a job I can take with me, but I am a writer and would still work while I’m gone. To be honest, though, I don’t really want to come back, but without a job, I may have to. My mother is particularly against it, & tells me I couldn’t get my job back with her of I leave, & is constantly making me doubt my plan by telling me that if I sell my car and quit my job I’ll be getting rid of the only things that make me independent an respectable. If I sold everything, I would be left with only a bit over $10,000, how far would that get me?

    • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

       I have parents that also never supported my traveling, but ultimately it is YOUR life and YOU are in control. Your mom telling you that you won’t have a job when/if you come back is a manipulation technique to try and control your decision. If this is something you have wanted to do for a long time, then my advice is to go do it. So many people don’t go after their dreams and die with regrets… you only get one chance at life so make the best of it. My parents did not take the news well since they are control freaks, but after years and years of me doing my own thing they’ve learned to begin to accept my choices. 10,000 can get you a year of traveling in South East Asia and there are plenty of opportunities online for writers as well as the ability to work overseas doing things like WOOFING, or working in a hostel… Honestly, where there is a will, there is a way. What works for me, might not work for you. But if you don’t go after your dreams, you will always be wondering what if. Your family is being very selfish by putting you down and trying to manipulate you into doing what they think is best for you. Only you know what is best for you because of what you feel in your heart. Your desire is not a whim that will pass and just because you are different doesn’t mean you should be forced to conform to what others believe you should be doing. If you don’t try, you’ll always be wondering, “What if?” Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you on your journey.

  • David Cunliffe

    Hi,great story,we’ve just done the same sold EVERYTHING or donated to charity shops.We leave Manchester for Thailand with a backpack each and then onwards to who knows where.I’m 61,my partner Suzi is 52,it’s never too late!!