Choosing a Storage Unit for Lifestyle Travelers

You’re taking the leap! You’re moving into storage and suitcases and becoming a lifestyle traveler. Isn’t it exciting? 

What do you need to know before you choose and move your things into their new permanent home? We’ve done the test run for you. Here’s what we found out.


Location is key when choosing your storage unit

Location affects cost

Spaces are normally cheaper outside of urban areas. If you want to keep your belongings close to a city, consider looking in the closest suburban neighborhood outside of it so you’re close but avoiding the higher price tag. 

Consider safety

Pick a safe neighborhood. Break-ins happen, leave your stuff somewhere you feel safe.

Have a home base

Choose somewhere you want to return to. My husband and I have 3 home bases for our travel. We return to each of our childhood towns and NYC for a few months every year. Choose a location for your storage unit somewhere you will happily return to a few times a year. This will save you an additional trip if you need to switch out your wardrobe.

Pick a spot where you have a network. No matter how much you plan, things come up. If you have a family member or a friend closeby, they can ship your hiking shoes or parka for that surprise leg of your trip! 


Paring down for storage

What do you keep and what goes? 

Ask yourself these questions as you pare down your belongings:

  • Is it meaningful to me?
  • Is this easily replaceable?  
  • Does it take up a lot of room? 
  • Do I have something that already fills this need? Do I really need this many sweaters, coats, whatever? I mean really?
  • Will you actually use this if you do choose to move back into a full time place? 

Chances are, you can live with a lot less than you think.

Do it in phases

Pare down in phases to make this stage easier. It’s easy to go into decision overload if you try to make decisions about all of your belongings at once. 

Spend a few weeks weeding things out for donation before you even look at the important stuff. When you’ve cleared the crap it will be much easier to think clearly about the important things.

Write it down

Once you’ve made your donations, write down what stays and goes and discuss it with your partner before you start preparing for the move. Having a conversation and defending your choices will help you think more clearly about what you actually plan to pack.

This will also give you an idea of how much stuff is going into your unit. This is key to know before you select your space.

Choosing a storage unit

Start by figuring out how much space you need by paring down your donations and writing down what’s going with you. 

Figure out how much space you need

Once you have your list, check out tools like this or this to see how much space you need for your storage unit inventory. 

Decide on climate control

Do you need a climate controlled space? Probably. If you’re storing technology, wood furniture, or valuables, climate control keeps your stuff from molding, warping or otherwise wearing out more quickly than it should.

Check out your options

Once you have your relative size and location (above), start comparing units in the area. Some don’t put prices online so leave time to reach out and get responses before you plan to move. 

Your monthly cost starts when you choose your unit so choose a few backup options in case your chosen location is out of inventory when you need to move in. 

Some brands will let you reserve your space in advance without paying so ask about this option if you found your ideal location. 

See if they offer a free moving truck. Some brands let you use a free truck locally for your move which can cut your overall moving budget. 

Do your due diligence 

Check out reviews. If you can’t access your unit when you need it or the building isn’t safe, keep looking. 

Look into their security measures. Do they have gates and secure entry doors? 

Look for deals. Many brands will offer first month free or special packages. 

Look into insurance. Many require you to have insurance or buy it from them. Factor this into your cost.


Packing prep

Packing for storage requires more organization than packing for a normal move.

When you move into a new home, your stuff just needs to survive the drive and you can organize as you unpack. 

When you move into storage, that is where your stuff will live for the next year, two years, more? 

Pack well 

Get sturdy, uniform moving materials. 

Moving into storage checklist:

  • New, uniform boxes (medium and large)
  • Moving tape
  • Moving blankets/sheets
  • Stretch wrap
  • Bubble wrap
  • Glassware boxes for your special stemware
  • Sturdy, clear boxes
  • Moving bags for your clothes
  • Extra cardboard to line the floor and keep your stuff clean. 
  • Labels
  • Sharpies
  • Lock for your storage unit. Either get a lock with a combo or one with multiple keys so your support person can access when you’re out of town.


Packing for storage

You’ve got your supplies, let’s do this. 

Pack like a pro

Pack super safely, your valuables need to survive possibly years in storage, give them extra padding. 

Make sure boxes aren’t bulging and are packed to the top. To stack without crushing your things or crushing your boxes, they need to be packed firmly but not overly full. 

Keep weight in mind. Pack heavy things in small and medium boxes so they’re easy to move and stand the rest of time. Lighter things can go in bigger boxes. 

Organize the move

Keep an inventory of everything. This will help you remember what you have if you ever need to use your insurance and will help you find things within the unit. 

Mark the contents of each box.

Note the things you know you’ll need and keep them separate while moving. Keep your alternative wardrobe, camping gear, backup technology, etc. separate so you can organize these within the unit. 

Organize your wardrobe by type. Pack your winter wardrobe, summer wardrobe, urban clothes, and outdoorsy clothes separately so you can grab and go depending on your itinerary. 

Wardrobe staples like jeans, layering sweaters, workout clothes, etc. should be with you all the time. Any extras you have of your key items can go in the storage unit so you can switch them out and keep your wardrobe fresh.


Moving into storage

Keep in mind that your storage unit is your stuff’s new permanent home. Make sure you unload accordingly. 

Put aside things you’ll need to access. You’ll load those last. For us that was clothing and travel gear like camping necessities. 

When you’re unloading, put the biggest things along the wall. As you unload, keep an aisle down your unit so you can easily access anything you might need.

Lock it up! Make sure you have any entry codes you need in a safe place and give your home base person access to everything so they can be your backup should you need them.

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Moving into Storage for Lifestyle Travelers