Are you wondering if you should sell everything and travel the world with your family?
Or maybe you’re thinking about other ways you can make your family gap year dream a reality.
Travelling the world with your family can be one of the best things you do for yourself, your relationship, and your kids. It exposes everyone to new cultures and provides you with unforgettable memories.
But let’s be honest: it can be super expensive.
That’s why many travelling families will often end up selling everything, including their house to full-time travel the world for a year (or more). And while this is definitely a great option, it may not be the right one for your family.
Today, we’re going to talk about whether you should be selling everything and travelling the world or you should consider other possibilities.
But first, let’s get clear on the pros and cons of selling everything to travel the world.
Sell Everything and Travel: Pros and Cons
Before we start, I should mention that this post is an update from one we wrote back in 2020. And while a lot of the information hasn’t changed, the context certainly has.
The COVID-19 pandemic meant a lot of the world had been shut down over the past two years. Then, right as things started looking OK again, a major war breaks out in eastern Europe. And now, the housing marking (and inflation) is out of the world.
I don’t know about you, but I think most parents could simply use a break.
Now, many people are finding themselves in a unique position. On the one hand, many have transitioned to working from home. This has allowed some parents to travel with their kids and keep a full-time job and become digital nomad families (that was our case in both 2020/2021).
Others are wondering whether or not they should sell everything and travel in a time of such uncertainty. It can be really tempting to sell your house in this insane housing market. The extra money you can get nowadays by selling your house can easily pay for a trip around the world.
So the question is, “Should you sell everything and travel in 2023?”
Selling or Keeping the House to Travel
The first decision when it comes to becoming a digital nomad (or a full-time traveller) is to sell or keep the house. The reason this is first on the list is that it will guide nearly every decision you make after that.
Whether or not you sell your home and travel will determine the:
- Start-date of your trip: You’ll need to leave time to do the actual selling (which is ALWAYS loads of fun).
- Budget of your trip: If you need to use the profits from selling your house to travel, this may make the decision easier. Otherwise, you’ll have to be saving money to fund your adventure.
- Plans after your trip: If you keep the house, you’ll likely come back after your trip to settle back in. Selling it means you no longer have any physical ties to where you started.
And these are all things that you’ll want to consider when it comes to whether or not to sell the home to travel. It’s a huge decision and the only one that your family can make together. It’s something that Emilie and I had long conversations about because, again, it really will affect the trajectory of your entire life.
Here were the pros and cons to weigh when deciding whether or not to sell the house to travel.
Pros of Selling the House to Travel
✅ Provides a large nest egg you can use for travel or savings, depending on how you budget for the world trip
✅ Opens up the world for destinations after the trip
✅ Gives you 1 less BIG thing to think about while travelling
✅ Makes your travelling plans feel more real as you prepare
Cons of Selling the House to Travel
❌ Gets rid of a valuable asset that could earn money over time
❌ Start back all over again and risks the housing market fluctuating (and not being able to buy again with the new house prices and interest rates)
❌ Freaks out your friends or family
❌ It can be absolutely terrifying for you
Here’s what the majority of the decision really comes down to what are your plans for after the trip?
Conclusion on Selling the House to Travel
As fun as it is to go all “Eat, Pray, Love” on everyone, you should be thinking about whether or not you’ll be returning to the same city after your world travels.
If you’re 100% confident you will, then keep the house and find what to do with your house when you travel. The best idea would be to rent it out. This also means that your departure date can be more flexible, more immediate, and all the more exciting.
Keeping your house also guarantees that you won’t blow throw tens of thousands of dollars and need to save up for a downpayment later.
If you DO decide to keep your house, you can always rent it out which means someone will be paying off your mortgage. Personally, I’d hire a property manager or ask friends or family to help. Happy to take the hit of a few hundred dollars a month. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with leaky faucets, broken light bulbs, and other landlord responsibilities from halfway across the globe.
Once you’ve crossed that off your list, you’ll be ready to talk about the next big(ish) item: the car.
Selling or Keeping the Car
I hate cars. I mean I really, really hate them. Everything about cars is the absolute worst.
You either buy an expensive car that doesn’t break (but loses value every single day you use it). Or you buy an inexpensive car that breaks all the time (and usually ends up costing as much as the expensive ones in the long run).
You may be leasing a car in which case the answer is simple: find someone to take over the lease.
But if you’re like most families, you probably own 1-2 cars and they probably drive you as crazy as they do me.
Here are the pros and cons Emilie and I discussed when considering whether or not to sell the car before our world trip.
Pros of Selling the Car
✅ Get rid of an investment you can’t really profit from
✅ Put extra money in your savings or travel fund
That’s pretty much it! It’s a short but very powerful list.
Cons of Selling the Car
❌ You’ll need to figure something out when the trip is over
Conclusion on Selling or Keeping the Car
Personally, this one is a no-brainer.
If you won’t need a car for another year or two, then there’s not much harm in selling it. Cars serve 1 of 2 purposes:
- Get you from Point A to Point B
- Show off your status
For the first one, you won’t need the car if you’re headed abroad. For that, you can take planes, trains, bikes, or just rent a car. For the second one, there are cheaper ways to do it.
The point is that for most people, cars are tools, not assets. The second you drive them off the lot, they’re losing you money. And if you bought one used, you can always find another when you get back.
Ok, now it’s time for the smallest but hardest decision: all that little stuff.
3. Selling or Keeping the “Stuff”
This is the toughest decision on the list. That’s because the volume of items to sell or keep to travel will be much more than an individual item like a house.
Things like clothes, furniture, toys, appliances, and other random items are likely taking up most of the square footage of your home.
If you keep your house to rent, the problem is solved. Take everything that’s not furniture and throw it in storage for as long as you’re gone. You can even boost the amount of rent you charge by $50-$100 to help cover storage costs if needed.
But make sure to de-clutter before and still put a few items for sale if you don’t need them. It makes no sense in storing items you don’t need anymore.
This is something that you and your partner will want to sit down and discuss, likely over a glass or two of wine to grease the wheels of conversation. Let’s see some of the pros of selling your “stuff.”
Pros of Selling Your Stuff
✅ Free yourself from all that clutter
✅ Make a bit more money to put in savings or the travel fund
✅ Re-asses what kind of things are really important to you
And now for the cons…
Cons of Selling Your Stuff
❌ All your stuff will be, well, gone
Conclusion on Selling Everything You Own to Travel
Honestly, this question comes down to what your plans after travelling are. You likely won’t want to sell everything in your house to travel. If you have nice furniture and big ticket expensive items, it can be expensive to start over from scratch.
Same with clothes, larger items such as appliances, and, to some extent, kids’ toys.
In the next section, you’ll let you how to sell all your stuff and travel.
How to Sell Your Stuff to Travel
If you decide to sell everything to travel, here are a few tips on how to sell all your stuff and travel.
1. Start EARLY
First and foremost, you’ll want to get a head start on this process. This is especially true if you’re selling larger items like a house or a car.
The LAST thing that you want is to feel pressured into selling bigger items at a price lower than you’re comfortable with.
A good rule of thumb is this: the larger the item, the more time you should set aside to sell it.
2. Create Separate Piles for Stuff
Once you’ve set a departure date and you have a few months to get rid of your things, start making piles for things:
Use one room in your house and start building these piles so you can get a global view of all the things you have. This will help you create a better strategy for selling things.
It also gave you a clear idea of whether or not you’ll need a storage unit while you’re away. Since units usually cost around $100/month depending on your region, this is something you’d need to budget for in advance.
By creating separate piles for what you sell, what you give, and what you keep, you’ll be able to avoid any last-minute questions that sound like, “Wait… so what in the hell are we doing with [insert a random piece of “stuff” here]?
3. Include Your Kids for the Little Stuff
I’ve been surprised at how much our kids like to pack things and be involved in the preparation process.
When we sold everything, we gave our kids a box and had them fill it up with toys they no longer wanted. Now let’s be clear: the toys they no longer wanted changed on a minute-to-minute basis.
So once they put toys in there, double check and make sure it’s nothing really, really special.
Once the box is made, put it out of sight from your kids and wait a few days. If they don’t ask about any of the toys in the box, these are all things you can either give or sell.
If they DO ask for a specific toy from that box, remind them that they gave it away. Then you can judge their reaction to see if it’s a toy they genuinely want to keep or if they’re just experiencing some toddler FOMO.
Regardless, you should include the kids in the process. Not only will this make the packing go by more smoothly, but it will make them feel like an active part of the trip (which they are).
4. Start With Family and Friends
At this point, you have 3 piles of stuff:
You’ll need to ask friends and family if they’ll watch the stuff you want to keep. Otherwise, you’ll need a storage locker.
For the “sell” and “give” piles, I always think it’s best to start with your family and friends first. Ask around to see if people want to take anything from your “give” pile.
Then think about your immediate network and who would like to have items in your “sell” pile.
The goal here is to be generous, not pushy. Don’t start negotiation wars with family or friends, and don’t expect them to pay sticker-price for anything.
Determine the amount you’d be comfortable selling an item for and politely make it clear from the start that it’s what you want.
Once you’ve given family and friends a chance to comb through your “sell” and “give” piles, it’s time to bring these items to strangers.
5. Decide Which Platform(s) You Want to Use to Sell
There are a few “old school” ways that you can sell your things, like:
- Putting up flyers around your neighborhood
- Garage sales
- Pawn shops
But the best way is to use something like online community boards or Facebook market place.
There are advantages and disadvantages to all of these. We tried to do a garage sale which was a complete disaster. Literally 3 people came, and it started raining on all our stuff halfway through. That said, it was WAY more fun to prepare than a Facebook post and the kids enjoyed giving out homemade cookies to the handful of visitors we had.
The advantages of community boards like Facebook Market Place, Craigslist, Kijii, and others are that you have a larger audience to work with. But that strength is also a weakness.
When you open up your stuff to more people, you’ll get more “low ball” offers, issues coordinating pickups, and occassion people asking for a refund.
6. Put the Money Away and FORGET IT
Ok, at this point you’ve made some sales. And now you’ve got a good amount of cash sitting in a drawer.
What do you do with it?
Our best advice would be to put it in a jar and hide it in some remote cupboard or closet. It’s like they say: out of sight, out of mind.
The goal is to save up enough and use it for traveling, so you need to find a way to make sure you don’t accidentally spend it before your upcoming adventure.
Final Thoughts: Should You Sell Everything and Travel?
But let’s be honest: you likely have TONS of stuff that you could sell, even if you aren’t going to travel. As tedious as it sounds, this is something worth sitting down with your partner and discussing item by item. And it’s a good timing to de-clutter your home, whether you sell it or not.
Make it clear what things matter to you and why. I have 2 boxes full of books that I bought in various places in my 20s. These are very important to me and we kept them though Emilie didn’t totally understand why (to her credit, literally all of these and more would fit on a Kindle).
On the other hand, Emilie has loads of photo albums and other memory items that she didn’t want to get rid of because rebuilding a wardrobe is impossible.
But the majority of the things we sold were simple: if it hadn’t brought any value to us in the last 3 months, it was gone.
This is a question that only you and your partner can decide for your family. For us, everything came down to this:
What’s the next step going to be (& when)?
We had to adapt our travel plans, even after selling everything. And after 18 months of travel, we’ve decided to resettle.
That said, we’ve adapted our travels to accommodate two full-time jobs, kids who need a bit of routine, and a community we’ve fallen in love with near the Canadian Rockies.
For us, this made sense. But you’ll need to decide:
- Will you be travelling for the next few years with open-ended options afterward?
- Or is this world trip about hitting the “pause button” and resuming life as usual when it’s over?
There’s no shame in either, but getting clear on one answer makes it infinitely easier to decide if you should sell everything to travel.