Unpacking After Vacation: Make it Easy on Yourself

At the end of the summer, my family and I had the privilege of spending a few days in the mountains with my in-laws and then a few days at the beach with my parents.  And let me tell y’all: It is no small feat to prepare all 6 of us to travel anywhere.  Much less for several days at the time.

I did one easy step during these adventures that made the unpacking so much easierDid I mention that I detest unpacking? Because I do.  I packed all of our dirty clothes together and all of our clean clothes together.


Why oh why didn’t someone tell me this little secret before?

I always do this when we stay at my in-law’s for the weekend, but it never dawned on me to do this for a larger trip.  It makes the unpacking so easy.

The Method

So in one suitcase, we have all of the clothes that haven’t been worn or those that I had the opportunity to wash while we were on vacation.  Note that the ‘clean suitcase’ contains the clothes for all 6 of us – not just my husband and me.  It would be too difficult to create ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ for 6 separate people, so I just lumped us all together.

Now the beauty in this method?  The dirty suitcase can just be placed in the hallway outside of the laundry room.  All of the dirty clothes are in one spot and I don’t have to go to everyone’s room trying to track down the things that must be washed.

This eliminates wasting time and most importantly, wasting energy.


But What if There’s Only 1 Suitcase?

This method was easy for us because we carried multiple suitcases on our trip.  So we could easily delegate one of those for dirty clothes.  However, you could also use this method if you’re only using one suitcase.

When packing before you leave, make sure you include a white trash bag.  When it is time to pack up at the end of your trip, loosely fold your dirty clothes and slide them into the trash bag.  Place dirty clothes on one side of the suitcase, leaving room for the clean ones on the other side.  The plastic bag provides a great barrier to prevent your clean clothes from getting smelly or even wet/damp.


A Word of Caution

If you use the trash bag-one-suitcase method and you have wet items, make sure you remove those as soon as you get home.  I know, I know…no one wants to unpack from a long trip the second they get home.

But if you have wet or even slightly damp clothes they will mildew in a heartbeat.  And mildew is a tough stain to remove.

To be completely safe, just go ahead and take everything out of plastic as soon as you walk in the door.  You’ll thank yourself when your clothes remain mildew-free.


And lastly, here’s one of my favorite people to travel with.  She’s as sweet as they come.


  1. That is exactly how I do it!! I pack 2 clean suitcases; one for me and my husband, one for the kids. When we come home they become the “everyone clean” and “everyone dirty” suitcases!

  2. We do the same thing! Sooo easy!

  3. Mama's Mama says:

    I want to comment on that beautiful red haired beauty sitting beside your suitcase. She is a precious baby full of ‘red-haired’ passion and sweet smiles. Love from her

  4. I just need to say that that pretty baby looks just like your mama, Lauren!!! Oh my goodness..how sweet!

  5. Gosh, I wish I had thought of this tip years ago! What a great idea.
    I love your little traveling companion…she is so adorable!

  6. I do this, but instead of bringing a white trash bag, I bring a “space bag” that you can roll the air out of. And I pack the dirty clothes in the space bag. That way, in addition to keeping it all together, I can roll the air out of the dirty clothes and have a little extra room in the suitcase(s) for whatever “treasures” my children inevitably find.

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