12 September 2013

How to safely store your stuff while you're on a career break

So, you've decided what to do, where to go and how long you'll be gone.

But what about all your stuff? It's got to go somewhere.

Where to put it

Most career breakers choose to stash their belongings in their parents' attic, or for the less important stuff, the garage. 

If you have no parents nearby, or if they live in a flat, ask friends if they have any room for your things. You could even offer to let them use your things while you're away, if you have anything useful! It makes it less of a burden on them. Some things, like your computer, benefit from being used rather than being packed away, but you need to trust the person you're lending it to!

Make sure your books, clothes and any electronic equipment are stored somewhere bone dry. It doesn't take long for things to get mouldy in a damp environment.

If there's no-one willing to let you dump your stuff at theirs, you'll need to use a storage facility. These are cheaper the further outside London you go. You will also pay less per cubic foot the more you store and the longer you store it for.

The most important thing when using a storage facility is to organise your own insurance. Weird though it might seem, the facility's insurance doesn't cover your stuff!

How to pack it

In boxes is the short answer. Or bin liners. But here are some useful tips:

  • Pack anything heavy in small boxes or you won't be able to lift them! Wine boxes are ideal.
  • Put anything liable to mould (books, clothes, etc) in cardboard boxes or breathable fabric bags - not plastic boxes or bin liners.
  • Label the boxes in as much detail as possible. Often bits and pieces get stuffed into a box of a different category, just because that's the only place they'll fit.
  • Use big labels and marker pen (not biro). It'll make things easier to find in the dark.
  • Label both the top and the sides if things are going to be stacked.
  • Sellotape the label on, even if it's sticky. Don't use Post-its because they'll fall off.

You can find more useful tips on how to pack up your house in this blog post.

List your storage locations

If you're storing some things in your parents' attic, another box in a mate's garage, and have lent another friend your hedge trimmer, make a note of what is where. You will think you'll remember, but you won't.

Make a map

While you are loading the boxes into the attic, storage facility or wherever, draw a little map of where everything is. It makes it much easier to find something later, and it helps you remember what is in each location. Put your map somewhere sensible. Also, make a digital and/or paper copy and take the copy with you. Then when you're on the road and discover you need your stripey jumper or your life-saving medication, you can email your helper at home (most likely your mum) and you'll be able to tell her exactly where to find it.

Get it back

If you've lent something to someone, even if you haven't forgotten they've got it, they may well "forget" to give it back. Try to get it back as soon as you can, the longer you leave it, the harder it is!


Storing your stuff is easier the less there is of it. Consider selling or donating items you no longer really need. A career break is a good excuse to have a clear out and it's good for the soul to have an occasional purge! Remember as well, someone else will get a lot more pleasure out of using your things than anyone will when they're stuffed in a box.


All packed and ready to go? Have a look at all the fab career breaks you can do here.