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Whether you’re on the road for work, you’re driving down to mom’s house for the holidays, or you’re finally flying down to one of those islands you normally only see in James Bond movies, planning for a big trip can be one of the most exciting – and stressful – things you’ll do this year.

And while planning for this trip can be an experience on its own, the added challenges of still needing to do stuff around the house can just compound things. For a lot of people, leaving for a trip over the summer or around the holidays while knowing their house isn’t as clean as they wanted it to be can really put a damper on the whole experience and just cause you more stress.

Does this sound familiar at all? Are you already dreading your Thanksgiving plans because you know your house will be a mess when you get home? Don’t sweat it – we’ve got our four favorite tips for decluttering before vacation to help you leave a cleaner space behind, and come home to less stress:


Declutter your decor: Particularly for holiday trips, one of the most common sources of mess you might be leaving behind is a lot of extraneous decorations. Getting into the holiday spirit is nice and all, but if every usable surface in your house is covered in decorations and tchotchkes, you might want to pare some of this down before you leave. Take a look at your coffee tables and dining room tables to make sure you don’t have a bunch of holiday decorations, family photos, or souvenirs from other vacations lying around – and if you do, it may be time to say goodbye, or at least box them back up in the attic.


Too many toiletries: Every household or family has that one traveler who tends to stock up a little too hard on travel-sized toiletries, whether they’re buying them from the store before you take off on your next trip or if you’re the sort to nick a few extra supplies from your hotel rooms before you leave. (We all do it, nobody’s judging!) If this sounds like you, make sure to pair your collection down before you leave – if you bought new travel-sized shampoo before your trip, make sure to throw out the half-full bottle you bought last time, and if you’re planning on bringing some back from the hotel, get ready to throw out the stuff from your previous trip. A few bathroom organizers can help you give your travel supplies a home until it’s time to throw them back in the old suitcase.


Watch out for catalogs: Around the holidays especially, junk mail tends to pile up – yes, some companies still mail out catalogs like it’s the 90s, and if you’re on vacation and can’t check your mail you might have a giant mess to come back to. Check through your recent mail and see if there’s any mailing lists you can take yourself off of, and get in the habit of using mail organizers to separate all the mail you need to keep from the stuff that can go right in the recycling bin.


Less luggage, less struggle: Finally, you may be able to actually declutter your trip supplies to help in the long run. If you find yourself digging around in the basement or attic for your absolute favorite carry on, at the expense of the three other bags you bought on sale, it might be time for you to unload those extras and keep the luggage you actually use in a place where you can find it more easily. It’ll save you some precious time packing, and you’ll have a lot less stuff in your house overall. And, after all, isn’t that the point of decluttering?

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