Travel Tip: How To Unpack Fast

How To Unpack Fast

It stands in the corner of your room, the zipper bulging at the seams. If it had eyes, they would be glaring at you. Judging you.

Woe is you, the procrastinating unpacker. As much as you may will it, your suitcase won’t unpack itself. And eventually, you’ll need your hairbrush or the ankle boots that are trapped between your laundry and the dog-eared magazine you read on vacation.

Full confession – I used to be the absolute worst at unpacking in a timely manner. My suitcase would sit in the narrow hallway of our alcove studio for weeks – usually until my next trip, at which point I unpacked purely out of necessity.

After several ultimatums from my husband (one being that he would throw away a fully packed suitcase from a business trip), I got my act together.

And now that I’ve figured out the secrets to unpacking fast (and unpacking well), I’m happy to share them with you.

How You Unpack All Depends On How You Repack

Your unpacking strategy starts during your trip, when it’s time to pack up everything to come home. I re-pack my items organized by group type – clothes, shoes and accessories, toiletries, etc. Largest items in the largest category go in first – like your full SpacePak (which has the handy laundry section) or your laundry bag. Larger items go in next (bulkier clothes, shoe packed in a shoe bag, devices or hats, etc). Once your large items cover the majority of the suitcase, tightly fold and roll smaller items like clean undergarments, scarves, and clothing into the small spaces left behind.

Yes, Hitha, I know the basic routine of how to pack a suitcase.

Of course you do. However, when you’re feverishly repacking your suitcase because you have 5 minutes before checkout, you tend to forget some of these details. Which brings me to the next tip…

Timing Is Everything

Repack your suitcase well in advance – the night before, or early that morning. When you give yourself time to repack, you’re more likely to have a better organized suitcase and not forget anything behind.

If you’re only going to follow a single tip from the list, make it this one. Trust.

Set The Scene (And A Timer)

I never unpack the second I get home. I’m usually hungry, feel dirty, and am tired. I tackle my suitcase only after I’m showered, fed, and have had a cuddle with Rho. The Pomodoro system is basically the reason I get anything done these days, so I set myself a 25 minute session on my Forest app on my iPhone. If I try to pick my phone up and look at anything, I “kill” the tree (it’s almost as demoralizing as killing your pet on the old-school Tamugachi). Having my phone otherwise occupied helps keep me focused on the task at hand – in this case, unpacking. (PS – I do the same for packing and re-packing as well).

Start Big

You may think it’s better to start small – unpacking your purse, or your personal item. While tackling it first may give you a small sense of accomplishment, it can also lead to complacency. Instead, unzip the suitcase and dump everything out. If you’re re-packed it according to my tips above, everything will be grouped by type. Tackle the largest group first and completely unpack it before moving on to the next. For me, I dump the dirty clothes from the laundry compartment in my SpacePak into my hamper, put away my folded clean clothing, and leave the dry cleaning bag at the front door. Shoes and other accessories get put away next, and my toiletries bag, steamer, and empty shoe bag get put back in my suitcase before I put it away.

Make It Fun

Unpacking is my time to enjoy a guilty pleasure television show – usually of the trashy reality variety. A podcast, cheesy pop playlist, or an audiobook are a great way to multitask while you unpack (or tackle any dreaded, mindless task for that matter). My suggestions – old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, any Real Housewives season, or Mindy Kaling interviews on YouTube.

[Tweet “Because I’m tired of unpacking my suitcase a week after my trip.”]

I’d love to know some of your tried and true tips on unpacking in a timely manner. Comment below and let me know!