Do you ever do this? Is your suitcase left at the front door? Or does it make it all the way into your bedroom before stalling? Do you grab an empty suitcase for your next trip because your first suitcase still isn’t emptied?
If you’re an Unpacking Procrastinator too, here are some tips both you and I can follow:
Start by taking your bag right to the laundry room. Empty out all the clothes that can be washed. Put them in the laundry basket and if you can, get them straight into the washing machine. Put the dry cleaning immediately in your car so you can drop it off at the cleaners on your next trek of errands. This empties out a good portion of your bag.
This is better than placing your luggage on your bed for emptying, just in case a bed bug or two snuck into your bag.
Now let’s tackle what’s remaining in your bag:
- Clothes you never wore: Even with all your pre-planning, there is usually an item or two that went unworn. If they were safely away from your dirty clothes in packing cubes or space bags, then put these clothes away; otherwise they’re part of the laundry too.
- Shoes: It’s easy to get them back in your closet, so just do it. Put them back in their boxes or get them on the shoe rack. If they are permanent travel shoes, like my extra pair of sneakers, then they stay in your luggage (yes, permission granted to leave these in your bag!).
- Jewelry: Add your pieces back into your jewelry box, placing the like colors together for easy packing on your next trip. Read Tangle Free Jewelry Tips for ideas on how to keep your jewelry unraveled so it’s easy to put away!
- Toiletries: If you have a travel-double of all your toiletries, then this bag stays in your suitcase. Otherwise, get your toiletries put away in the bathroom. Then when you’re on that next trek of errands, go buy an extra of everything and keep a permanent travel toiletry bag. (It’ll be one less thing to pack and unpack and this too has permission to remain in your luggage.)
- Receipts: Have all business receipts in one envelope; all personal receipts in another. Put them on your desk for entering later to your expense report or financial software. If already entered, then file the envelopes in the proper file drawer or scan them.
- Passport, international adapters, foreign money, and maps: Have small stacking drawers that hold your travel-related items. Keep each foreign currency in a separate labeled envelope. Container Store has great options for this. This makes for easy packing and unpacking.
- Souvenirs: If the item is a gift for someone, have an area in the house where all future gifts are placed. I have one shelf that holds the items I pick up in my travels and then it’s easy to find them when I need them. Then find a place for your own souvenirs. I’ve had to put a ban on buying coffee mugs. I have collected beautiful mugs from cities around the world, but the kitchen cabinet is full. So only buy souvenirs you have a place for.
- Ticket stubs, brochures and other mementos of your trip: For the sake of unpacking, pitch what you don’t want and put the rest in a large envelope and label with the date and locations. I tend to collect a lot of brochures when I first arrive somewhere, then look at them later and wonder why I ever picked them up to begin with. Later you can scan then or add them to an album.
Don’t have time to do this unpacking, you say? How much time do you spend tripping over the bag saying “yeah, I’ve gotta get this bag emptied out?” How much time to you spend looking for all over for something only to find it in your luggage? If you just get the bag emptied out once you return home (or the morning after for late-night arrivals), then time won’t be wasted on these senseless things.
For more on unpacking, including a sneaky way one husband got his wife to unpack her bag, read How Do You Unpack Your Suitcase?
To receive a free copy of our ebook, 70 Secrets to Safe Travel — Because Your Life Can Change in a Heartbeat, and for more travel savvy info to help you travel smarter, safer and with more enjoyment, visit SmartWomenTravelers.com and PearlsofTravelWisdom.com.