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7 tips for packing up your house before your Big Lap

The last thing you want to be worried about while you’re exploring Australia is your worldly possessions that you’ve left behind.

From my experience, it’s the months leading up to starting your Big Lap around Australia that are often the most challenging part of the experience as there is just soooooo much to organise!!

Besides getting everything ready to take on the trip, you’ll most likely need to deal with packing up your house and putting everything in storage.

As an added complication for us, we were moving interstate at the end of our trip so all of our stuff needed to be packed in a way that an interstate removalist could load it all up from our storage garage in Victoria and transport it to South Australia.

Whether you’re planning to come back to where you started or move interstate like we did after our Big Lap, there are a few steps you can take to make the process more streamlined and give you some peace of mind while your travelling.

So let’s run through them . . .

1. Plan Ahead

Choose Your Storage Unit

There are plenty of self storage services around to choose from and I recommend you shop around as the prices vary considerably depending on the underlying value of the land they are sitting on.

We rented a unit in Melton about 40km out of Melbourne that was around half the price of comparable units in the Melbourne suburbs.

When you contact the storage service, confirm that you’ll be needing it long term and see if they have a discount for pre-paying up front . . can’t hurt to ask!

I suggest visiting the facility in person before you’ve committed to it to eyeball it for yourself and make sure it is up to scratch and there are no ‘red flags’.

It will also help you to choose the appropriate size for the amount of things you have. We needed a single garage size for our things but you may need more or less.

Create An Inventory List

I love a spreadsheet and recommend you use one to make an inventory of all of your things grouped by the room they are in.

No need to list every single book and kids toy but list the major items and then the approximate contents of each packing box in each room.

This will make it way easier in the event of an insurance claim or if you need to find anything along the way. 

For example . . it might look something like this:

Sophie’s BedroomSingle mattress
Sophie’s BedroomDolls1
Sophie’s BedroomBooks1
Sophie’s BedroomGames1
Sophie’s BedroomClothes2
Sophie’s BedroomShoes2

2. Sell, donate, chuck or keep?

The very wise Dalai Lama said “Possessions are a burden you carry through life”, or words to that effect.

You’ll come to appreciate his words even more after you’ve been travelling for a while and learnt to live happily with much less stuff.

Make it easier on yourself by lightening your load before you hit the road.

As you’re going through your house and getting it ready to pack up, look at everything and ask yourself . . should I sell it, donate it, chuck it or keep it?

In the months leading up to your big move, start selling things you can live without on Facebook marketplace or at garage sales to raise some extra travel money and reduce the amount of things you need to store.

Your kids will have grown out of all their clothes by the time you get back so is there any need to keep them? May as well pass them on to someone who can use them.

Get as much done as you can in the months before your final house pack up to reduce your last minute ‘to do’ list.

3. Packing Supplies

You’ll need a good supply of packing boxes, tape, packing paper, bubble wrap etc. and they can be quite expensive so avoid leaving it to the last minute to source everything.

People often sell or give away packing boxes on Facebook marketplace so keep an eye out there.

eBay, Officeworks & Amazon are all potential suppliers for packing tape and other packing materials.

Make sure you also have tape dispensers and textas to write on the boxes.

Grab a roll of ‘FRAGILE’ tape so you can clearly mark the boxes that have fragile items to make sure they don’t get handled roughly or packed on the bottom in the storage garage.

Do you need any specialty boxes for things like artwork, sculptures, wine, TV etc.?

4. Packing Strategy

Pack on a room-by-room basis and don’t mix and match items between rooms.

Number each box and write the contents on your itinerary spreadsheet and also clearly write on each box which room it needs to go in.

When it comes to unpacking the truck at the other end, the removalists will be able to easily put each box in the correct room.

If you don’t fancy doing this yourself, you can outsource it to the experts and you should have no trouble finding removalists on Muval that can help you.

Pack heavy items in small boxes to prevent them from becoming too cumbersome to lift. Eg. books or wine

Wrap fragile items individually in bubble wrap and use dividers for extra protection. Don’t pack heavy items AND fragile items in the same box.

Disassemble large furniture and store screws and small parts in labelled plastic zip lock bags taped to the corresponding furniture.

Are there items you may need to access from storage before your trip is finished or immediately afterwards? Like documents, clothes, etc.

Keep these aside to make sure they get packed at the front of the storage garage for easy access.

5. Protect Your Belongings in Storage

Make sure to choose a storage facility that is clean and protected from the weather. You don’t want to be opening up the roller door in a year’s time to find puddles of water on the floor or a thick layer of dust that has blown in through gaps in the ceiling or walls.

Also keep an eye out for pest control in the facility or talk to the management about it if you have any concerns.

Use covers to protect furniture and buy some mattress bags to store your mattresses in to keep the dust and moisture out and also make them easier to handle.

Wrap your furniture in plastic wrap to keep it clean and safe during transport and storage

Store any precious items that would be ruined by water high up in the locker to minimise damage just in case there is flooding. 

Storage companies don’t usually provide any insurance so talk with your home insurance provider about coverage for all of your possessions while they are in storage. This will probably just be an update to your household contents policy.

Use high-quality padlocks for your storage unit that can withstand the weather if they are outdoors. Take one of the keys with you and leave a key with a trusted friend or relative as a backup in case you lose yours but also to gain access or give to a removalist if needed while you are away.

6. Organise the Storage Unit

Place items you may need to access sooner at the front of the unit and make sure they are clearly marked. You may need to get your friend or relative with your spare key to locate something for you while you’re away so keep this in mind as you’re packing things in.

Leave a pathway in the storage unit to make it easier to reach items at the back.

Stack boxes safely, with heavier boxes at the bottom and lighter, fragile ones on top.

Take photos from many angles as you go so if you do need to describe to someone where to find something it will be easier.

Double check everything against your inventory spreadsheet as you pack things in to make sure nothing is forgotten.

7. Stay Connected

Ensure the storage facility has your current contact information and that you have theirs.

Also let them know the details of your friend/relative who has your spare key and access to your locker. They will then be an emergency contact for the storage company if you are unreachable.

It might also be worth asking your friend/relative to drop in and inspect the place every 3 or 6 months for extra peace of mind.


The last thing you want to be worried about while you’re exploring Australia is your worldly possessions that you’ve left behind.

Some pre-planning and attention to the details can take the risk and stress out of it and let you focus on what matters . . . your adventure of a lifetime.

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Steve Baile
Steve Baile
I’m the founder of Expedition Australia, a writer, filmmaker & adventure travel junkie. Passionate about my family, health and fitness, hiking, 4WD touring, adventure motorbikes, camping and exploring as much of the planet as I can.

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