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How to keep your belongings safe while on a camping road trip

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Young woman holding a box at a storage unit
Keep your belongs safe while you're on your camping road trip

I'm going on a long camping road trip later this year. How can I ensure my personal stuff is looked after properly while I'm away?

Dear Camper or RVer,

Whether you are going on a road trip for a couple of months, a few weeks or even just for the weekend, making sure that your personal belongings are safe while you are away is perhaps one of the biggest concerns of anyone. Asking a trusted friend, neighbor, or relative to 'check in' on your house (and perhaps even water your plants!) is the most practical option if you are only going to be gone for a few days or weeks. But if you are planning to be gone for more than a couple of months, renting out a managed storage facility is the safest option to keep your belongings safe and secure, especially if you have a lot of priceless, sentimental or important items in your home.

Benefits of renting a storage space

A managed storage facility is a place that offers a space for you to rent out and store your personal belongings. Most of these facilities have secure entry devices, are guarded around the clock, and typically use closed circuit TV (CCTV) to monitor the premises. This means that your precious personal belongings are better protected from robbery, floods and fires. The spaces in some facilities are airtight and climate controlled so your belongings are well protected from the elements - perfect for pieces of art work, cellared wine, archival documents and the like. It also means that you don't need to leave your humidifier or costly air conditioner on whilst you are on the road!

Types of storage spaces

There are generally two kinds of storage facilities available that you can choose from to keep your belongings safe and secure so that you can have some peace of mind and enjoy your road trip. The first is what they call a Self-Storage or Store-It-Yourself facility. This kind of storage is preferred for those who need a secure place to keep their personal stuff for a few months, and the rent here is charged on a monthly basis. Self-storage facilities require you to pack and store your belongings into the storage space yourself and provide your own lock for the storage space.

The second type of storage facility available is the Container Storage. This type of storage space is best when you require a space where you can store their personal belongings for a set period of time. Most of those that choose this kind of storage facility are those that are waiting for their home to be built or renovated and they need the extra space. In this kind of storage space, the company provides the containers that will store your personal belongings before it is picked up from your home and delivered to the storage facility for safekeeping.

Choosing the best option

Before going out to look for a storage facility, there are a number of things to consider:

1.  How long will you be gone?

Storage facilities are best if you are looking at an camping road trip that will last for more than a month, and you have important stuff to protect. If you are going to be gone for a month or less, asking a trusted friend, neighbor, or family member to look after your personal belongings will be the most cost effective option for you.

2.  The size of the belongings you are intending to store?

Many of the really priceless and important items in your home come in small sizes like family heirloom jewelry, birth or marriage certificates, insurance and investment documents, property deeds, rare coins, and the like. If these are the types of things that hang heavily on your mind whilst you are out on a long camping road trip, renting out a storage space may be just too big! Opt to rent out a safe-deposit box from your local bank instead. They offer the same security and airtight, climate controlled conditions for these kinds of items. Many banks in the United States would offer discounts on safe-deposit box rentals for their existing customers, which can be less than renting out an entire storage space.

Storage spaces are best for those that need to store rather large and expensive items like pieces of furniture, computer equipment and even vehicles. The best way to decide is to do a complete inventory of everything that you want to stow away for safe keeping, and estimate the space required to fit your belongings and also note for insurance purposes how much each item is worth.

3.  How much space do you need?

Storage facilities provide a variety of different spaces for you to store all your valuables. For small items like books, boxes containing small pieces of furniture and fixtures, a storage space measuring five feet in length, five feet in width, and ten feet in height will do just fine. If you are planning to store larger pieces of furniture or expensive vehicles, a space measuring 10 feet in length x 20 feet in width x 10 feet in height would be appropriate.

4.  What type of storage space to rent out?

Regular storage spaces are best for those sturdy types of items that are very unlikely to be affected by changes in the environment. Climate-controlled storage spaces tend to be a little bit more expensive as opposed to regular storage spaces but they are the best option to get for those items that may get ruined if exposed to humidity, heat and the like.

Also, if the items that you are intending to store are extremely fragile, it is best to opt for a container storage facility rather than a self-storage facility. The containers provided are manufactured to ensure that your personal items are secure and protected not only while they are stored, but also while they are being transported to the facility as well.

Finally, there is also your budget to take into consideration. Renting out a self-storage space can be more affordable since you can purchase packing supplies from Amazon at a fraction of the cost that may be charged to you by the storage facility. Here's a list of recommended packing supplies:

5.  Which company to go with?

There are a lot of different companies offering storage facilities across the country to choose from. To ensure that you get your money's worth for the storage space that you will be renting out, it is best to first do some research. Check with the Better Business Bureau or the Chamber of Commerce to see if the frequency of complaints that have been filed, if any, by customers towards a storage rental facility. Also check with your local police station to determine the rate of robbery and break-ins within the area where the storage rental facility is located. For this purpose, it is usually best to go for self-storage facilities with a lot of chains across the United States. That is because they give you the option of having your belongings within close proximity from where you will be camping just in case you have the urge to check on them once in a while. Some nationwide storage companies to consider are:

Once you have located a storage facility that is offering the right amount of space that is within your budget online, make sure to go and do a visual inspection of the place. This will give you an idea of just how much security the facility can really provide. Checking out the facility will also give you the chance to also ask any and all of the questions that you may have when it comes to the security of your belongings and accessing your belongings.

Basically, the rule of thumb here is if you do not feel comfortable about the place during your inspection, it is best to look elsewhere.

Personal Insurance for added protection

In addition to storing personal belongings in a rental facility, many campers and RVers planning a long camping road trip can also purchase insurance for the things that they store for additional protection. After all, no matter how much protection and security these facilities promise, there is always that slim chance that they get damaged while being transported to the storage space or whilst they are being stored.

As with storage rental facilities, there are different types of insurance that you can get to protect your belongings. There is the declared value insurance where the value of your belongings are based on a specific amount per pound, the lump sum value where you are paid the lump sum of the value you declare for each item in the event that they get damaged or lost, and there is the full value protection where the coverage will pay for the repair and/or replacement of the damaged or lost items.

For more information on what kind of insurance will work best for you, it is best to get in touch with an insurance agent from a reputable insurance company. Some insurance companies to check out online are:

At the end of the day, heading off into the sunset on a long camping road trip is all about having fun. If the security of the stuff you left behind is keeping you awake at night, you may prefer to invest a few hundred dollars in storage, and buy yourself some peace of mind.

Copyright ©2011 Camping Road Trip, LLC

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