Be Organized, Be Clean: Tips For The Picky Traveler

I know I can’t be the only one out there. I love to travel, but my pickiness (what some people call my OCD) results in having to prep my hotel room to be exactly so. While my routines can be classified as disorders–which I have no problem with–they are still valuable in making your hotel room a comfortable home away from home. Follow these simple tips, and you’ll feel a lot more put together next time you’re away.

10 Simple, Easy Tricks For The Picky Traveler:

1. Bring disinfecting wipes–they are your best friend. First, use them on the plane. How many times have you had a dirty tray table, armrest, or even head rest? Wipe them down! Second, use them in your hotel room. Use them to clean the top of your dresser and inside your dresser drawers,  the inside of your closet, the hangers, any tables, the phone–A MUST, the television remote, and yes, the toilet seat. While I might be excessive, it can’t hurt sanitizing these areas and objects to give you peace of mind.

2. Check the bed. Pull down the comforter, blanket, and sheets. Examine the fitted sheet for any signs of insects or stains. Then go one step further–examine the seams of the mattress for traces insects, stains, and the most dreaded of findings–the bedbug. Then you can really get a good night sleep and recover from your jet lag.

3. Unpack immediately upon arrival in your room. Don’t wait for the next day. Take everything out of your suitcase and place your stuff in the dresser, the closet, and the bathroom. Organize by type. For long trips, I bring a cheap shoe organizer (the one with shelves) that hangs in the closet. It doesn’t take up much room in your suitcase, and you can organize your clothes, shoes, and/or accessories for easy access. Plus, when you purchase your souvenirs, you can leave the shoe organizer in the closet and have the room in your suitcase without having to sit on it to zipper it closed. If you don’t want to go this route, fold what you can instead of hanging it up because hangers are always limited. If you like hanging all your clothes, however, bring extra hangers or go to your local dollar store–they are everywhere–and purchase them. You can then just leave them behind. Lastly, unpacking is not just for your clothes. Don’t forget your toiletries. Take everything out of your bag(s) and place them in realistic places in your bathroom. Even though you are probably exhausted, you really will feel more at home, and you immediately fall into a natural routine making for a more comfortable stay, especially when you get up that first morning.


4. Make your toiletries work for you, not the other way around. Everyone I travel with takes out their toiletry kit and inevitably has to clean their bag because something leaked. I keep telling them the way to go about it, but they never listen. So listen carefully. Bring as many toiletries as you can in travel size bottles–whether your favorite brands come that way or you have to buy empty ones. Use silicone travel containers because the liquid comes out easier and there isn’t that wasteful amount at the bottom that you can never seem to get out. As well, DO pack your travel-sized toiletries in your suitcase so you don’t have to carry on such a heavy, large bag. Yes, keep a few things in your carry-on for those just-in-case moments, but it IS okay to keep them in your suitcase. First, make sure your toiletry bag is in the middle of your suitcase to cushion it and avoid breakage. Second, we know that your suitcase will be tossed around a lot. I have found a tried and true way so that they won’t leak over everything. Cut a piece of saran wrap in to a large square. Place it over the opening of your container, then twist the cap closed. Seriously, this is a life saver.

5. Packing cubes are not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s up to you if you want to use packing cubes, which are everywhere. However, I don’t really like them. I find it is still a challenge in terms of organizing like clothes. As a result, I feel they take up more room. The only item I have really found them useful for is shoes. I say, don’t waste the space. The hanging shoe organizer is better all around.

6. Separate your dirty clothes from your unused ones. To maintain this separation, throw your dirty laundry into your empty suitcase. Leave just a portion of your suitcase unzippered so you can just throw in your dirty clothes.  Another idea is to use the plastic laundry bag provided by the hotel to store your dirty clothes. Don’t have the hotel wash them, just use it to separate your clothes. The end result is that you will not have dirty clothes around your room, you’ll remember what you have used and what you haven’t, and you now know how to separate your clothes when packing for your trip back home.

7. The dollar store makes sense. It is a haven for us lifelong organizers. Check to see if the local discount store sells small plastic utility bins and make the best purchase of your trip. You can use them to separate your lingerie, hair accessories, make-up, etc. It’s another way to keep everything organized and create a valuable routine for each morning of your trip. Everything, then, is not all over the place and cluttered. And, you can find everything.


8. Real folders, not just those on the computer, are extremely useful for home and away. Bring a manilla envelope or folder so you can keep all of your tourist maps, itineraries, vouchers, receipts, etc. in one place. In addition, keep photocopies of pages of guidebooks instead of bringing the whole book. Stick those in the envelope as well. Now when you need to find something, you know exactly where it is. As well, if you maintain this envelope (meaning you place anything in there as soon as you return to your room) then when you’re ready to pack to return home, all you have to do is place it in your suitcase and you won’t leave anything behind or throw it out by mistake. Once home, you have a list of sorts to remember everything you did.

9. Multi-task with dryer sheets. They remove static–with which I seem to be plagued–from your hair and from your clothing. As well, your suitcase will sure smell nice. You’ll always have that just washed feel.

10. You need power. We all bring a travel adaptor for international travel, but in this day and age one might not be enough. When you have a smartphone, ipad, and ipod, you need a lot of juice. Some rooms have several outlets that can be used, so why not bring more than one adaptor? Some rooms, however, only offer one good outlet. Get a travel adapter power strip. These might be more essential than those shoes you probably shouldn’t have packed.