An organized ending to a trip

On Unclutterer, we’ve written about how to prepare for a trip, with packing lists and more. But professional organizer Julie Bestry and I were recently discussing a related concern: How do you end your trip in an organized manner? The following are some suggestions that might work for you.

Do a thorough unpacking

You may choose to keep some items in your luggage permanently — a toiletry case or a spare charger, for example — especially if you travel a lot. Beside these items, unpack everything else right away, being sure to look in all the pockets of your luggage.

Earlier this year, I thought I’d lost my favorite business card holder when it was actually just hidden in my luggage. Finding it when I packed for a recent trip was a pleasant surprise, but it would have been even nicer to have not misplaced it for six months.

Note anything that needs to be replenished or repaired

Did you use up your travel-size toothpaste, or something similar? Make a note on your to-do list to replace depleted items. Another example: On my latest trip, I realized the wheels on my suitcase squeak quite horribly. Getting that fixed is going onto my to-do list now.

Capture anything you learned that would help in future travels

Did you pack something that wound up being useless? Did you wish you’d packed something you didn’t? Did something you packed work out especially well? If you keep a packing list, update that list to reflect what you learned.

Other things can be worth noting, too. For example, I’ve learned things about rental cars that I’ve put into a file (and others might choose to put into Evernote) for future reference: which models of cars I’ve liked and disliked, what things to make sure I understand about any car before I drive away from the rental office, etc. (I once had a car which hid the headlight controls in an unusual place, and it took pulling off the road and doing some searching to find them.) This is a file I might well want to update after any trip that involves a rental car.

Write reviews, if you so choose

If you had a notably good or bad experience, you may want to write a review for a site like TripAdvisor. If that’s something you want to do, it’s best to do the writing while your memories are still fresh.

Go through your photos

It’s easy to believe we’ll never forget where we were when we took our photos, but all too often, we do forget detailed information. Name the photos or tag them while your memory is fresh. And while you’re doing that, take a few moments to delete the photos that just aren’t worth keeping: out-of-focus photos, duplicate shots, etc.

Write thank-you notes

If you were hosted by friends or business associates, take the time to write thank-you notes expressing your gratitude for their hospitality.

Stop telling people you’re gone

If you use an email auto-responder, remember to cancel it. I’ve received numerous messages telling me someone was out of the office until a specific date, many days after the date in question. Similarly, if you customize your voicemail greeting while you’re gone, remember to change it once you’ve returned.

5 Comments for “An organized ending to a trip”

  1. posted by sylvia on

    I actually have a to-do list for post-travel tasks – everything from “turn off out-of-office message” to “add new contacts to linkedin.”

  2. posted by Nana on

    And don’t forget NOT to post your travels on Facebook…until after you return.

  3. posted by Leslie on

    I am just getting back into the swing of frequent (short-term) travel (driving). One of the big issues for me, because I have disabilities, is not to overpack as it becomes too difficult for me to cart around. One thing I have learned is to unpack in front of the hamper. As I unpack, I evaluate what I wore, what I had too much of and what I ran out of. For some items that I only need for travel, when I get home, I wash/clean it immediately and put it back in the car. I keep a toiletry case that has some duplicate items that don’t need to come out, but those that do (medications) are removed immediately and if refills are needed, I call and get them ordered. That reminds me, I’m sure that I have a duplicate charger around here somewhere, I should add that to my bag. For long trips, I learned to pack 1/2 as much clothing and simply do laundry.

  4. posted by Barbara F. on

    Thanks for this post – first one I’ve seen on Ending A Trip, lots of good tips!

  5. posted by Liz on

    IF you are traveling by car, be sure to clean it out, note the mileage, refill the gas tank, go through the car wash and replenish any supplies. You may need to take it in for an oil change and check on any of those noises that started during the trip. If this is a business trip, the start & finish mileage is important. If you are paid on actual expenses, then the last gas fill-up and minor repairs might be covered.

    I usually look at the pre-trip plan and reverse it – get the mail and newspapers going. plug in the appliances, adjust temperatures. The suitcases go directly into the laundry room – everything is cleaned, even the suitcases are dusted and aired out before returning to storage.

    For long trips, I usually clean out the refrig before I leave, but there is always something that goes bad. So, check and clean it before you go to the store to replenish.

    Organize your receipts and input into your financial program. Complete that expense report. Check against your credit card statements. After two days on the road, I got the fraud alert message and it was so nice to have the receipts handy for that phone call.

    On my last trip, I was doing three different things (reunion, visiting family friends and a fall color drive). I used different duffel bags and packed for the different segments. So what I was taking into the hotel was only a small subset of what I had with me. It worked and I even had a laundry bag in the car. It may have looked weird moving clothes into that bag, but it made doing a mid-trip wash a lot easier.

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