Trip’s Over! Best Tips to Unpack Your Suitcase … Faster

Do you feel that the worst part about taking a trip is unpacking the suitcase at the end of it?  Does it take you days and sometimes weeks to unpack after a trip? Often we put off the dreaded unpack because we no sooner get back from vacation and without missing a step, we are expected to jump right back into our busy lives right where we left off before we left before our trip. There are some people who don’t like unpacking luggage because they are sad the trip has ended or have no idea where to put all the souvenirs that were brought home, and the thought of putting away all those different items from all parts of our home just makes us exhausted.

Here are a few tips to help get you motivated to unpack your luggage quickly and with a little less anxiety…

Unpack Immediately

Yes, that’s what the Pro’s say.


Bed Bugs! or any other type of creepy crawly you may have brought home with you in your luggage. Try to eliminate any unwanted “guests” from lingering and making themselves at home by unpacking your stuff right away and doing your laundry.

Odor – Unless you sealed your dirty laundry in a plastic bag, they will make all your clothes smell dirty.


Pack smarter. Contain all the dirty clothes in a plastic bag or laundry bag so that you can easily grab it from your bag and dump it into the laundry. Your luggage will be at least halfway unpacked at this point. Otherwise…

Sort everything into piles – dirty clothes, clean clothes, shoes, toiletries, papers, electronics, etc.  

Take care of clothingPut dirty clothes directly into hamper; Put clean clothes away  

Take everything else that doesn’t belong in the bedroom and drop them off at different stations. You will deal with them when you are in that room again.  For example, drop off your toiletry bags in the bathroom and your electronics and paper piles in your office.

Only unpack toiletry bags if something leaked. Don’t refill your shampoo/conditioner bottles until before your next trip. Tip: Used up something while on vacation? Leave yourself a note on top of your bag or in your phone of what needs to get replaced.

Return your passport to its proper home immediately.

Sort your papers near any area that has a recycle bin, shredder, and folders or envelopes to hold any receipts, notes, or memorabilia.

If you travel often and the items will be used again on your next trip but not in-between, by all means keep it stored in your luggage.

If you follow even just one of these ideas, you might be able to unpack those suitcases faster. You’ll spend less time tripping over them and chiding yourself that you still have not dealt with them yet, and you will free up time to get back into the groove of your everyday life.

Do you have some simple tips or things that you do that make your unpacking successful? Please share your thoughts and comments below. I’d love to hear from you! 

About Gabriela Burgman

Gabriela's mission is to empower her clients with the tools and motivation they need to get and stay organized. Prior to becoming a Professional Organizer, Gabriela worked in a photograph archive as well as several university archives, assisting offices, administrators, and retiring academics to sort through their files for preservation or disposal. She became a professional organizer in 2007 working as an independent consultant before joining Living Peace. When Gabriela is not learning new ways to organize photos or paper both physically and electronically, she is spending time on what matters most to her: visiting with family and friends, reading a good mystery book, or cooking a tasty meal.

1 comment on “Trip’s Over! Best Tips to Unpack Your Suitcase … Faster

  1. Great tips, and I love your subject line on the email for this one, ha ha! “Vacations over! Still tripping over your suitcase?”.  Keep up the humor.

    I used to suffer a lot from the disruption of where everyone’s stuff is after a trip.  I am happy to say that due to all the years of family-of-4-traveling we’ve done, somewhere along the line I mastered the get-home-and-unpack-before-even-going-to-sleep, and it’s been many years that I do this every time.  It’s all in the way I pack before coming home (packing smarter, as the tip above says).  Everything is categorized according to where it’s going when I get back but I don’t keep things in the suitcases I came with, I take advantage of the various backpacks (always 4, one for each of us, so much better since we started doing that! For carrying and for categorizing!) and suitcases (usually 1, or 2 if the trip is longer) to categorize things, since it no longer matters who’s is who’s on the way home (I do all the packing/unpacking for myself, husband & 2 kids).  
    Everything gets categorized into a plastic grocery bag (we pack a big batch of these which we constantly reuse for everything).  
    • Special items obtained on the trip go in the suitcase since they can be oversized or delicate, etc., along with other oversized, delicate, or bulky items I brought (e.g., crocs, sandals, goggles, toys, books).
    • Passports, & other travel docs are always in the exact same place every time (my giant purse, but in a ziplock so they don’t get lost in there with the kitchen sink). 
    • One backpack has special compartments that safely hold all the devices (laptop, kindles, ipad, iphone, their plugs & adapters, etc.), but that one has a huge compartment for other items too, so all the toiletries, hair dryer &  brushes, medicines, suntan lotions, any other liquid thing, etc. get packed into that one.
    • One backpack (often 2) will have all the dirty clothes (split into plastic bags according to what is washed with what so you can drop it into appropriate laundry basket at home)
    • Another will have all the clean clothes (split into bags according to who’s room they go in, so you can dump it into their drawers when you get home) plus hoodies & lightweight jackets – usually fits into one backpack
    I spend the last hour of my vacation doing this while everyone else still gets to hang out – a worthwhile investment for peace of mind on the other end. It helps that we hang a couple plastic bags somewhere and everyone puts their dirty clothes in those as we go.  

    It takes literally minutes to put it all where it goes when I get home, and since it’s in bags, I could just hang it on the door knob of the appropriate room if I was too tired, but it’s almost always easier to just put it away right away and not have to remember later.
    Then suitcases go to the basement the morning after (because we always get home late at night, exhausted). Done!  
    That’s at least one problem solved 🙂  Happy Travels!

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