I’m a compulsive unpacker.

September 18, 2009 at 3:48 pm 53 comments

We arrived home in Minneapolis last night after what felt like a never-ending flight. A movie would’ve sped things along, but alas, no movie.

After we reconnected with the kiddos and got our suitcases into the house it was already 10:30pm. Most people would’ve just called it a night, but not a compulsive unpacker.

I don’t know, but there’s something about getting home and getting all that trip stuff out of my life. I want to be able to start the day fresh the next morning, focusing on being back at home.

It sometimes annoys Abraham, who would rather just let the suitcases lie until the next morning (or maybe the day after that, or until he realizes he no longer has any clean clothes). 🙂

But getting the dirty clothes out of the suitcases and into the washing machine, getting all those toiletries put back in their right place, etc. just makes the next day so much better.

What about you?

Are you like me—gotta do it right away? Or do you need a night to readjust and you’ll think about the suitcases tomorrow? Or are you like Abraham—you’ll unpack when you can’t scare up any more clean clothes?


Entry filed under: Life, Travel.

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53 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rebekah  |  September 18, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    I wish I could say otherwise… but my husband and I are both more like Abraham. It’d be nice if at least one of us was more organized but nope- no such luck.

  • 2. Bryan  |  September 18, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Sarah and I are both like you in that regard, Molly!

  • 3. Angela  |  September 18, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    I’m stuck somewhere between needing a day/night to readjust and running out of clean clothes before unpacking. I tend to leave my suitcase lying around with obscure things in it like a headband and earplugs or the many other non-necessities that I think are necessities for trips. There’s no rush to get them out of the suitcase and I don’t mind leaving the suitcase lying in my closet for a day…or two…or a week 🙂

  • 4. Noel  |  September 18, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Sorry, Molly. I’m pretty sure I know where Abraham got his preferences on this.

    • 5. Molly Piper  |  September 18, 2009 at 8:29 pm

      No apologies necessary. It’s just a funny difference.

  • 6. Eva Joy  |  September 18, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    I unpacked two suitcases yesterday. One was from a 9 day vacation to PA that ended on Aug 29th and the other was from my trip to my sister’s cabin for Labor Day weekend.

    Unpacking my suitcase is by FAR my least favorite part of traveling. I seriously can’t remember the last time I unpacked on the same day that I got home. Or the day after, for that matter…..

  • 7. Elizabeth Esther  |  September 18, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I stick the suitcases in garage and forget about them. Until absolutely necessary. Or until I can’t find my toothbrush.

    I’m a compulsive non-unpacker.

  • 8. Lindsey  |  September 18, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    HA! I’m so glad to know someone else suffers from this disease. A disease that benefits everyone else. I’m only a compulsive unpacker because I know that if I don’t do it right away? I won’t want to do it at all. So I run around putting everything back, like it never left its spot in the first place.

    • 9. Molly Piper  |  September 18, 2009 at 8:29 pm

      That’s right! It *does* benefit everyone else! Compulsive unpackers unite!

    • 10. Sara  |  September 18, 2009 at 10:50 pm

      I’m with Lindsey on this. I’m a compulsive unpacker, but perhaps for less than noble reasons. It *might* get done in a timely manner if I leave it overnight. But the fact that it might not isn’t worth the risk to me. It’s more stressful to leave it than to just put it away and not have to think about it. My husband, on the other hand, could leave it out indefinitely- until each item is used and somehow makes it back to its “home”. Could take years.

  • 11. michellehankins  |  September 18, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Last Fall I went to the Phillipines. Being that the weather was completely oppisite of ours at the time – my suitcase stayed packed for a long long time… I mean – I did not need the warm weather clothes until spring. But, I think I got it done before Christmas.

  • 12. Jessie V.  |  September 18, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    I’m like you- even when we’re at the destination. I *need* to immediately unpack and sort everything out like I’m at home.

    • 13. Molly Piper  |  September 18, 2009 at 8:30 pm

      Me too!! I love to get my stuff out of the suitcase and into drawers at our destination.

  • 14. onewifeonly  |  September 18, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    I grew up an MK in Haiti, so I pack light. Went to Turkey for two months in college and all I had packed was one an extra pair of pants, shirt, shave kit, bible, and underwear

  • 15. Jessica V.  |  September 18, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    I am a compulsive unpacker, and my husband could let his suitcase for 2 weeks. 🙂

  • 16. Rachel  |  September 18, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Totally a compulsive unpacker… drives my husband crazy! But I get on a roll and I can’t stop. 🙂

  • 17. dorothy monroe  |  September 18, 2009 at 8:28 pm


  • 18. Pam  |  September 18, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    I’m with Abraham but I must admit I enjoy the benefits of being married to one of your type!

  • 19. Sarah  |  September 18, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    I just got back from a trip with my two small daughters. My husband had come home 5 days sooner for work. I was unpacked before he was! Haha. I always unpack as soon as possible. It’s like getting back to the real world.

  • 20. Michael O  |  September 18, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Hi..um..um… my name is Michael… and..and I ……. am a compulsive unpacker.

    I truly see how it benefits my family. I thought I was the only one. It really is like getting back and I always feel unsettled and hard to really relax until it is all put back in its place and I have showered. I think I am a compulsive put-er-away-er as well. My wife says it is almost monkish.

  • 21. Dorothy  |  September 18, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    i’m with you Molly! We pulled in from 5 days of rustic camping at 1:30 this afternoon and had 11 people showered most things put in their right places and 5 loads of laundry done plus a hot dinner by 5:00pm. Call me compulsive – but I konw that mountain isn’t getting moved unless I am under it pushing!

  • 22. Kimberly  |  September 18, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    I’m exactly the same way. Even if I get in at midnight, I have to unpack, put everything away and start the laundry!

  • 23. jennapants  |  September 18, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    sometimes, you and i are so the same. this time, it’s you and brent.

    i WILL say last time we came home from a trip, i diligently unpacked, sorted laundry and put luggage away as if to say, “i love you, brent. you mean more to me than those emails, blogs and status updates that i’m DYING to check. i love you more than doing nothing. i love you more than flipping channels with no interest in ANYTHING that’s on. i love you more than futile attempts to find anything good to eat after we’ve been gone for a week.”

    it felt good.

  • 24. Heidi  |  September 18, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    I wish I was a compulsive unpacker for those exact benefits you’ve stated, but I confess that I do leave them and end up picking through them as the items are needed or the suitcase is needed again.
    As a procrastinator I can say that I have never regretted the few times I did unpack right away. And I can’t say the same for leaving it for another day. I always regret leaving it. So, I think deep down we all wish we were compulsive unpackers.

  • 25. Alice Kristovskis  |  September 19, 2009 at 7:00 am

    My husband is the complusive unpacker. I am completely lead by him in this regard! He has the clothes out, sorted in colours and sometimes in the wash before I am properly in the door. I am VERY grateful:) I wish I was more like him. Infact, I feel a bit of complusive unpacking coming on right now – I have just returned from a weekend away and hubby isn’t home just yet. Maybe I can surprise him 🙂

  • 26. Kimberley Suchta  |  September 19, 2009 at 7:25 am

    I am another compulsive unpacker. I can’t rest until everything is in it’s place. It’s such a good feeling to be home and settled with the suitcases put away.

  • 27. allison  |  September 19, 2009 at 9:20 am

    I prefer to take care of it right away…my husband would wait like yours!

  • 28. Greta  |  September 19, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I believe I fall into the category which is your exact opposite. Thankfully(?), my husband is the same way. We both, basically, unpack our suitcases by wearing clothes out of them until they’re empty.

    I WISH I was a compulsive un-packer!

  • 29. Jane  |  September 19, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Molly!
    I used to be a bit like Abraham [and Noel it seems :)], but now I put everything away as soon as I can because otherwise I know it will be there for far too long!
    I always smile over differences like this between husbands and wives because, as you say, it is just a funny difference. My husband has always been a “Do it right away” kind of unpacker, so he has most likely finally influenced me after all these years!

  • 30. Holly  |  September 19, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Compulsive unpackers of the world unite! I have a whole routine to pack, unpack at a hotel and unpack again at home. I know it all seems rather “Monkish”, but it’s the best way I know to feel settled wherever we’re going.

  • 31. jennapants  |  September 19, 2009 at 2:52 pm


    Curious if you and Brent have THIS in common. When packing to come home, he simply CANNOT put clean and dirty things in the same piece of luggage. There’s always a dirty laundry suitcase and a clean laundry suitcase.

    just wondering…

    • 32. Melissa Parnell  |  September 19, 2009 at 9:09 pm

      i know this was addressed to molly, but I am the same way as Brent. If I’m at a place (like my mom’s) where I can do laundry i *try* to do all our laundry the night before we leave. Any dirty clothes get stuff in separate compartments, if not its own bag.

      As soon as we get home, I *can’t* relax until I can get stuff put away where it is supposed to be.

      Hi, my name is Melissa, and I am a complusive unpacker…

  • 33. Dianna  |  September 19, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    I am the compulsive unpacker as well. I don’t go as far as washing the clothes immediately, but everything is put away and the clothes are in their appropriate baskets before I can sleep. And my husband is just like Abraham!

  • 34. MrsMK  |  September 19, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    One of those things that has changed for me this year….I always used to wait until the next day when I felt more rested, but have just discovered that I rest better when things are put away ( and bedtime goes better when I’m not still digging for jammies and toothbrushes and pillows and diapers and toothpaste and teddy bears. So yeah, now I’m cumpulsive, just like you!

  • 35. Tonya  |  September 19, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    I’m somewhere in between the two of you. It really depends on what time we get home. If it’s late, I wait until the next day. If there’s time, I’ll go ahead and get things put away. But, the dirty laundry always waits until the next day.

  • 36. Beth Evan  |  September 19, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Hi Molly!

    I’ve been reading for a while, but don’t think I have ever commented until today . . .

    You don’t know how much better I feel knowing there are others like me when it comes to unpacking. I don’t know why, but it makes me feel so much better to get things unpacked and into the washer.

    Someone else commented that one of them doesn’t like to “mix” dirty/clean clothes. That would be me, too. I hate to have them in the same suitcase. I guess I figure that if I keep them separated, the clean ones can go back into the closets without being washed. If they are in the suitcase together, I feel like I need to wash everything!

    Have a good evening!

  • 37. Audrey  |  September 19, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    I am for sure like Abraham…i hate unpacking so much I have my mini travel bag with stuff I NEVER unpack, then when I go somewhere it’s already ready to go! that includes things like toiletries and other little bits…

  • 38. Kelly @ Love Well  |  September 19, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Unpack. IMMEDIATELY. Like you, I can’t rest while all that stuff is laying packed away, out of place.

    Of course, I’m also the woman who obsessively picks up the toys (almost) every night, just so I can start the new day fresh. It’s a disease, really.

  • 39. Sarah Johnson  |  September 20, 2009 at 9:10 am

    I unpack immediately and start the laundry, too. 🙂

  • 40. Amanda  |  September 20, 2009 at 9:54 am


    I am the compulsive unpacker just like you! I am also the compulsive unpacker once we arrive at a destination if we are going to be there for more than 1-2 days. I guess it is just the OCD in me! 🙂


  • 41. Trudy  |  September 20, 2009 at 11:29 am

    For sure tomorrow or the next day….or the next. How nice it must be to be a compulsive unpacker. Not only do you have the reward of having it done but also the energy to start it in the first place.

  • 42. Courtney  |  September 20, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Molly, I am totally with you on this! When we got back from our honeymoon I didn’t even know where to being. Not only did we have suitcases to unpack, but we had a ton of gifts to put away! Daniel would much rather leave it, and pull clothes out as needed. I literally can’t function at work the next day if I now there are packed up suitcases at my house waiting for me.

  • 43. Crystal  |  September 20, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Unfortunately, I’m with Abraham. I wait waaaay too long to unpack–usually when I can’t figure out where my favorite shirt ended up and I realize I never emptied our bags from wherever we’ve been.

  • 44. brooke  |  September 20, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Oh, we are TOTALLY unpackers. No matter the time. I can think of only once in 12 years of marriage that we haven’t unpacked the moment we walked in the door. It feels SO much better to finish completely and throw a load of laundry in before the next day starts.

  • 45. robyn  |  September 20, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    I usually don’t feel like thinking about it until the next day. But if I’m visiting someone with a washing machine, I usually do my laundry there so all I have to do is put my clean clothes away.

  • 46. Alli  |  September 21, 2009 at 8:38 am

    We got back last night from a weekend trip. We had to leave almost everything in the car because of the torrential downpour happening when we pulled into our parking space. So, I didn’t really get a chance to unpack right away.

    To me, it depends on the time of day we return. If it is the afternoon, then I definitely try to unpack. If it is late, then it all waits until tomorrow.

  • 47. Gina  |  September 21, 2009 at 9:10 am

    i’m like you.

  • 48. Chris  |  September 21, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I’m more like Abraham.

  • 49. Rachel @ RaJenCreation  |  September 21, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    chronic unpacker, guilty.

  • 50. Erin James  |  September 22, 2009 at 1:06 am

    I always unpack right away and get at least the first load of laundry done. My husband “fought” me on this forever and would help unpack while grumbling, but my “see, isn’t it nice not to have to wake up to it tomorrow?” comment has finally helped him see the light… I think.

  • 51. Sarah DeWire  |  September 22, 2009 at 11:48 am

    I do prefer to unpack right away, too. Thankfully, Bryan agrees and helps me in this endeavor after every trip. 🙂

  • 52. Rita  |  September 30, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I’m definitely not a compulsive unpacker…I got home from Europe this saturday and I did put all the dirty clothes in the laundry basket, and then unpacked everything else on Sunday…and then finally hung all my clean clothes last night…

  • 53. Scott Anderson  |  October 18, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    I *think* I’m the first guy to comment. I’m a regular traveler (mostly business, sometime pleasure), and I, too, am a compulsive unpacker.

    Oh, and my wife simply LOVES this about me….


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