In my previous career, I travelled quite extensively – usually alone. When I arrived at my destination, I barely spent any time taking care of “my stuff.” After a long day of work, I would usually get back to the hotel late in the evening and fall right into bed. The next morning I would get up a bit early to iron my clothes for the day. Using that type of schedule required very little of my energy for packing or unpacking. I pretty much took my toiletry bag from my suitcase and put it in the bathroom. Done – unpacked.
Also, when I was young I must have heard a story about spiders in the drawers of hotels, which is one reason I think I’ve never unpacked. I had this idea that if I put my clothes in the drawers they would become filled with spiders, then I’d put the clothes on, and then spiders would be crawling all over me – gross! I’m over that now however I do still get a shiver when I think about it.
When I’m traveling with my family, change is required. I know it’s hard to believe. My experience with kids, at least my kids, is that a person cannot effectively live out of a suitcase.
Problem 1: All the clean clothes seem to get mixed with the dirty clothes.
Problem 2: They can’t remember what they’ve worn and wind up wearing the same thing multiple days. “Didn’t I see you in that yesterday?”
Problem 3: Usually there are more than one child’s things in a suitcase. As they begin to look for their things the other things get tossed aside. Where? Who knows? Let the hunt begin.
My solution – unpack all of my items upon arrival. Yes, it’s a departure from my traditional way of doing things and it did take me some getting used to as it might for you too. Trust me though, it’s much easier and we haven’t had any spider incidents (yet…shiver).
The best way to start this process is with packing. Try to pack similar things together. I put all of our swimsuits in one place. I put all the kids’ underwear, socks, and pajamas in one section. I put my husband and my underwear, socks, and pajamas in a separate section. I treat it like my drawers at home.
Now, when I get to the hotel and open those suitcases, it’s like my drawers are already set up. All the bathing suit stuff goes into one drawer. The kid’s underwear, socks, and pajamas go into drawer number two. My husband and my underwear, socks, and pajamas go into another drawer. And so on, and so on. I do the same with any toys, baby things, etc. I’ve brought.
Of course, toiletries in the bathroom and hanging items get hung immediately; even if I still need to iron them, I hang them up. This will help save my drawer space since usually there’s not that much to go around. I advocate kids sharing the swim drawer and underwear drawer to save space. If at all possible though, I give them their own drawer for their actual outfits. This tends to save infighting. If there isn’t extra space, then everyone sucks it up. It’s usually best if my husband and I split up and share with one of the kids. Then, there is no issue with kids accidentally wearing each other’s stuff. Also, the clothes tend to fit better (small and large clothes in one drawer as opposed to all larger size clothes in the same drawer).
The next step, which is very critical, is to establish a place where dirty clothes will go. This is very important because, at the end of the trip, all the dirty clothes are in one place. I pack them separately from the clean clothes (if there are any) and save myself some wash upon my return – bonus!
Try it on your next trip and I’m sure I’ll be pleased with the results.