Just the mere idea of travel gets us all pumped up. The adults are happy, the kiddos are happy—everyone wins. The one aspect of travel that no one really likes is the packing part. You’ve got laundry to do, things to pick up, bags to organize and you know you’re going to forget something. It’s inevitable. Especially since you aren’t only responsible for your things, but for the belongings of several other family members. Everyone is always looking for tips and tricks to make packing go more smoothly, but you know what’s even worse than packing? Unpacking.
In reality, this is the hard part. Here are some tips to survive the travel trauma that is unpacking.
Finish The Laundry Before You Leave
Seriously, nothing’s worse than coming home to a messy house, especially when you’re tired. What’s more tiring than a day of hard travel with kids after a wonderful family vacation? Do yourself a favor and prepare.
Chances are that you had to do some laundry in order to pack for the trip anyway, so do whatever needs to be done to ensure that it’s 100% complete before you depart for the trip. (While you’re at it, it couldn’t hurt to scrub the toilets and wash the kitchen floor.) I know cleaning isn’t what you want to be concerning yourself with as the anticipation of your trip builds, but you’ll be grateful for your own foresight when you come home to a clean house that requires nothing of you.
Take preparation to the next level by setting out outfits for school and work for both you and the kids, that way, there’s literally nothing left for you to worry about when you arrive home.
One way to help yourself to manage unpacking is to do a good job when you pack. Roll up a trash bag or two in your suitcase when you pack the first time so that when you pack to go home, you can easily separate the clean clothing from the dirty clothing. (This will make your laundry load much more reasonable upon arrival.
Be sure to properly package your toiletry items to keep them from creating a disaster in your luggage. Start by covering shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion bottles with a special cap like the Flip-It. While this little device is meant to help you get every little drop out of your bottles (something you will appreciate after a week at the beach) it also keeps the bottles from leaking—which is extremely important for stress-free unpacking.
Don’t Put Off Unpacking
We love our little nuggets, but there’s no denying that they make even the simplest of tasks complicated. The longer you are home from your trip, the more tasks will need your attention, so get the unpacking out of the way as soon as you enter the house. You should:
- Have every family member bring their luggage in and deposit their bags into the laundry room. Throw a load in the washer as everyone attends to the rest of the unpacking. All suitcases should promptly be put back into their storage space.
- Children should place important items like comfort blankets, tablets, and even stuffies back into their bedrooms.
- Clean out snack wrappers, empty beverage containers, and everything else from the car that does not belong there.
I’m pretty confident that you don’t want to do any of these things once you finally make it home. It will, however, probably take no more than ten minutes, and the alternative is even less attractive. Digging through bags at 3am because one of your little ones woke up to find that his favorite stuffed animal wasn’t tucked safely under his arm is no fun. Dragging yourself out of bed and heading off to work only to realize that you are surrounded by sticky bottles and a sea of crushed Goldfish.
Remember that this isn’t all on you. Kids and teens can aid in making this short process go very smoothly. Babies and toddlers on the other hand will be less helpful. Assign your tiniest family members a special task or set them up to be distracted so you can finish up. You can do this!
You’ve just has a wonderful family vacation, there’s no reason so start stressing now. If you’ve followed piece of advice #1, then you are ready for whatever tomorrow is going to throw at you. If you’ve followed piece of advice #2, everything is back in its place and the laundry running. It’s time to have a glass of wine. (I’m partial to a delicious Walt pinot noir, but that’s just me. It’s the perfect combination of notes of red berries and a hint of floral left on the tongue.) Put the nuggets to bed, have an adult beverage or an adult-sized snack of your choice and relax until it’s time to switch the laundry over. The folding part can wait til morning.
Make Unpacking A Travel Priority
It’s no fun to get home from a great trip. Period. Unpacking only makes the entire experience less desirable. (The experience of coming home that is.) But alas, all good things must come to an end, so make unpacking a priority—you’ll be glad you did. Furthermore, when you set expectations high for the rest of your brood, they’ll know exactly what is required of each person when you return home, making the day after vacation a bit less stressful for momma. And let’s be honest, the wine won’t hurt either.