suitcase overflowing with things like shoes, hat and sunglasses

Unpacking After Travel

July 30, 2017

You’ve been gone for days or even weeks.  You finally get home, drop your bags, and kick off your shoes.  All you want to do is relax.  Unpacking can wait, right?

Well, yes and no.  It’s perfectly fine to let your bags sit for a bit.  Even a few days.  But if you are among the planeloads of people who dread unpacking more than a 12-hour flight delay, you are probably familiar with those suitcases that sit for months, like ripening cheese waiting to be cracked open.  Aging might be good for cheese, but it most definitely does not improve the stuff in your suitcase.

The solution?  Make unpacking as quick and easy as possible.

As in so many things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Unpacking is inevitable.  It’s futile to pretend otherwise, so pack with the end in mind.

•    Bring a light-weight plastic or mesh bag with you to stow dirty clothes while you travel.  When you come home, empty it right into the hamper or washing machine.

•    Pack shirts together, pants together, etc. to make it easy to put clean things away.

•    The less you pack, the less you have to unpack.  If you have lots of unworn items to put away after each trip, challenge yourself to simplify.  It really can be done!

•    Make a kit stocked with travel-sized toiletries that you only use away from home.  Keep it in or near your suitcase, no packing or unpacking necessary.  Restock as needed and, if you don’t travel much, check for expired items before a trip.

Take advantage of the fresh perspective you have after a trip and use unpacking as a quick decluttering opportunity.  As you put things away, scan your drawers, cabinets, and closets for the stuff you didn’t miss while you were gone, such as:

•    Sample sizes that you were saving for a trip but didn’t end up packing.

•    Cosmetics that weren’t needed while you were gone.

•    Worn out t-shirts that have been replaced by new ones.

•    Exhausted undergarments that you’ve been keeping for spares.

If you find yourself procrastinating, try distractions or rewards to get the job done:

•    Watch a TV show without fast-forwarding.  Unpack one category per commercial.

•    Play music and see how many things you can put away before the song ends.

•    Pick a time that corresponds with your highest energy level to start unpacking.

•    Invite a (non-judgmental) friend over for a beverage of his or her choice to be enjoyed while helping you stay on task.

•    Promise yourself a treat when you are done. (Or think ahead and pack one at the bottom of the suitcase so that it is waiting for you when you unpack.  Bonus points if the treat has a short shelf-life!)

And on a final note, welcome home!