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The most-viewed article on my website, SmartWomenTravelers.com is Top 7 Tips for Packing Your Suitcase. But unpacking my suitcase is actually a bigger chore than packing it! This got me thinking about the different ways that people unpack their suitcases.

Upon returning from a trip, my husband immediately (and I mean immediately!) opens up his luggage, gets his dirty clothes into the washer and totally empties out his bag. I, on the other hand, roll the luggage into our bedroom where it sits next to my nightstand for a day …. or two … or more. I hate unpacking!

When I am home for just few days, I usually do not open my bag until a few hours before I need to pack it again. My workout clothes are washed and repacked, but the other clothes can get washed or dry-cleaned when I have time. My small bottles of liquids get refilled with shampoo or conditioner, if needed, and get tossed right back into the luggage. My makeup bag and hair brush stays in the bag to be ready for the next trip.

Returning from a vacation, I’ll wait just as long before emptying out my bag, if I ever truly empty it. Check any piece of luggage and you’ll likely find maps, ticket stubs, boarding passes or other miscellaneous items. The only item that I always put back in its place, and immediately, is my passport. I leave that at home in a safe place when I am not traveling internationally.

A coach of mine used to get very frustrated by his wife’s still-packed suitcase sitting in their bedroom, but he did not want to be the one to unpack her bag. Then he figured out a perfect way for her to want to empty it out – and fast! He’d invite friends over for dinner, friends who had not seen their new home. Of course they’d want to see all the rooms in the house, so his wife just had to get her suitcase unpacked and put away before her guests showed up. This trick only works for so long, however, before you run out of friends who have never seen your house, or your spouse figures out your stunt.

So what is your modus operandi when it comes to unpacking your bag? Are you a get-it-done-now unpacker like my husband? Or do you get around to it when you have time, like me? Or maybe something in-between? Does your bag get put away in a closet or become part of the bedroom furniture as it awaits your next trip?

So much is written on how to pack … now let’s hear about how to unpack -- painlessly! I'd love to hear how you make this an efficient process once you return home from a trip.

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