Self-storage is a life-saver for many. When you find yourself having to move on short notice or needing to travel for extended periods of time, self-storage can help you protect your belongings. Storage units are affordable and easy to access. If you've never used self-storage before, you may be unsure how to begin. Here are four tips that will help you get the most value from your storage unit.

1. Select the right size.

Not all storage units are alike. Some are very large — the size of a full room. Others are the size of a small locker. You should pick a storage unit based on your needs. You don't want to have a frustrating time trying to jam items into a space that's too small, but paying for a storage unit that's much larger than you need can be a waste of money. If possible, measure your belongings ahead of time so you can choose the smallest storage unit that meets your needs.

2. Place your belongings in containers.

The storage unit you rent is yours for the duration of your contract. As long as you store no hazardous or illicit substances, you're free to organize your space however you like. It may seem easier to pile all your belongings into your storage unit without containers. However, this haphazard approach can make it impossible to maximize your storage space. It's best to place your belongings in containers. Clear plastic boxes are ideal since they allow you to see the contents of each box at a glance.

3. Label all your boxes.

For best results, you should label each of your boxes before placing them in storage. Pack items based on their similarities. For example, you should place kitchen items in one box and bed linens in another. When items are organized by category, it will be easier to find what you're looking for. Label boxes as descriptively as possible. "Dishware and utensils" is a more helpful label than one that simply reads "kitchenware."

4. Create walkways.

Walk-in storage units are a convenient way to store many items in a single location. People who are moving or subletting their apartment can utilize walk-in storage units to hold furniture, clothes, small appliances, and more. When organizing large storage units, remember that you'll need space to walk. Create walkways to make it easy to access items stored near the back of your storage unit.