Self-Storage While Traveling: A Revolutionary Adventure

When my husband and I decided to move to Egypt for a year, we could only make it work by moving out of our apartment and stashing all our stuff in self-storage.

We chose an Extra Space Storage facility (incidentally; this was before I wrote for this blog) and had our movers arrange all our couches, tables, and boxes, Tetris-like, in a 10’ x 10’ unit.

P1050242We moved to Cairo, never giving our stuff at home a second thought.

This is as it should be when you trust the security and management of the facility you’ve chosen. Storage is all about leaving your stuff in someone else’s hands so you can get your own hands dirty living an exciting life!

Our life—at least that year—did indeed turn out to be exciting. In late January 2011, halfway through our time in Egypt, revolution broke out.

You might have heard of this. You might have watched on CNN as the smoke billowed from burning buildings and the Egyptian government flew fast jets over the city to make sonic booms that would scare the civilians into behaving.

P1050203We were holed up in some friends’ apartment watching those same things, only we were watching them out the window (and simultaneously on our TV screen, which was surreal).

After a week or so, we were forced to flee amid the turmoil. We passed near Tahrir Square on the way to the airport (unable to use the ring road due to bands of roving thieves), and were stopped at checkpoint after checkpoint by locals who wanted to see if we had any weapons or were planning to cause any trouble.

We swore up and down we were not trouble and pleaded to have our passports handed back. Eventually, along with a tidal wave of other escapees, we made it to the airport and onto our flight home. P1050300

And when we got home, there was our stuff waiting for us at the Extra Space Storage building, exactly as it was when we left it. What a comfort to see the familiar shapes of our armchairs and desks, our bed and our television.

We settled into a new apartment and carried on with life at home as if nothing had happened. But we often read about Egypt in the news and think back on our strange experience abroad.

It was an adventure. It taught us some profound things about the world. And that was only possible due to self-storage.

Katherine Gustafson is a freelance writer and editor with a background in international nonprofit organizations. Her first book, Change Comes to Dinner, about sustainable food, was published in 2012 by St. Martin’s Press. Find her online at