7 Smart Things to Declutter When You Get Home from Vacation

published Jun 19, 2018
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(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Part of the benefit of vacations is the renewed perspective they give us through a change of scene and distance from the daily grind. While we may return with a fresh appreciation for our homes and the predictability of routines, there may be one area of vacation-inspired clarity that we forget to use to our advantage.

With everything that has to be done to prepare for travel, it’s not usually realistic to add decluttering to the list before you leave. However, when you get home from vacation you’ll have the insight gained from recent usage that can inform a thoughtful de-cluttering of your travel gear.

Here’s a list of things you may need to re-evaluate:

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Your toiletry bag

Was it big enough, or did you find yourself supplementing with Ziplocs? Are there things in your toiletry bag that you can toss (old cotton balls, cotton swabs, cough drops, etc.) that you’ve been carrying around for far too many trips?


Did you snag a new set or two from your most recent hotel stay? If so, consider getting rid of some (or all) older sets of toiletries.

Toiletry containers

Did you have any spilling mishaps on your last trip? Maybe you need to replace your carry-on-approved bottles that have flip-top lips with a set that has screw tops. When you were packing, did you have a bunch of containers with mystery contents? Empty and wash them out so they’re ready to be used next time you take a trip. Better yet, consider filling containers now with only your necessities, labeling them, and then tossing your stash of miniatures.

(Image credit: STIL/Unsplash)

Your luggage

Did you dig around in the attic for your favorite carry-on? Do you need the others? Don’t keep just-in-case luggage; one piece per size per family member, max.

Your “personal bag”

Have you finally found your perfect travel bag or decided that a backpack is the best option for you? See if there are any bags you keep for travel that you won’t use anymore and can donate.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Travel books

Long, long gone are the days when it was savvy to carry a paperback travel guide, and much of the info will be outdated in any case. Scan your bookshelf for any of these and recycle them.

Seasonal clothes you keep just for travel but haven’t used in years

The sub-zero jacket someone gave you, long underwear that may or may not fit, and exotic beach cover-ups that you never wear even when you do pack them for beach trips—consider cleaning these out and making space for everyday things instead.

Along with knowing what to declutter, you’ll also know what gaps in travel accessories you may need to fill in. Make a list. Next time it’s trip time, you’ll have nothing you don’t need and the best versions of everything you do.