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3 KonMari-Inspired Tips for Tidy Travel

Packing can actually be a pleasure

You know how it goes before you leave on a trip. You swear you’ll have your loose ends tied up. Get a good night’s sleep. Drink lots of water and eat healthfully. Then you find yourself packing at 11 p.m. the night before and frantically asking around for someone to check on the cats while you’re gone.

Chances are it’ll play out the same way for the next trip—but what if we brought a little “KonMari” to it?

I recently delighted in a wonderful little book called “Spark Joy” by Marie Kondo whose Zen-like “KonMari” approach to tidying up and holding on to only those things that bring us joy and appreciation has inspired people around the globe to see their “stuff” a little differently.

One such person is Brooke Booth, a professional organizer in Detroit who’s in the process of becoming a certified KonMari consultant and bringing Kondo’s methods to her own clientele.

When it comes to packing and prepping for a trip, says Booth, some of the stress we feel comes from the fact we’re not clear what really sparks joy, whether it’s the things we’re packing (a wrinkle-free shirt we think we should bring) or even how we pack (throwing it all in the bag and hoping for the best).

If you haven’t already KonMari’d your home and surrounded yourself only with things you love, packing your suitcase offers an opportunity to do just that.

Tidy Travel Tip #1: Pack with love

“When we’re packing, we’re going through a sorting process,” says Booth. The question is, “Are you sorting through things you love, or sorting through all kinds of things?” Booth explains that KonMari is about taking each item, holding it in your two hands and asking yourself, Does this spark joy? If you don’t feel the spark before you pack it, you definitely won’t feel it when you open your bag miles away from home.

Booth also reminds us that what might spark joy for one journey, such as traveling light and not having a bunch of stuff to haul around, might be different on another journey when we prefer plenty of clothing options for different weather or occasions.

Then of course there’s the KonMari method of folding. The origami-esque folded shirts, slacks and socks, lined up in rows like a file cabinet for your clothing—as pictured in the feature photo above. Lots of room to spare and it’s a smaller-sized carry-on!

A bag packed like this simply “sparks joy.”

So now you have your tidy little bags packed and you’re headed for the airport. You get there and there’s a brutal line for check in, and another line for security you can’t even bring yourself to join. You get through it all and your flight’s been delayed. Hrrumph.

Tidy Travel Tip #2: Seek joy in every leg of the journey

If you stop and think for a moment, isn’t this kind of what you’ve been wanting? A little time to yourself, a little solitude to just be.

Instead of the internal monologue or shared griping about airlines, we can change the self-talk, says Booth. Try instead looking around and saying to yourself, “This is so great, I get a chance to just sit down and relax. I’ve been really looking forward to this. All week we wish we had a few minutes to ourselves and there we are in the airport with time.”

You finally reach your destination. It’s heavenly. The trip is magnificent. The people are great. The food is delicious. You hardly think about home except when you’re browsing for souvenirs.

This is the time when we often fall out of step with being present. “We’re so busy looking for the perfect shell on the beach,” says Booth, “we’re not really ‘on’ the beach.” Or we’re focused on bringing back something that captures the magic of our adventure as though we’re going to forget everything about it. “Fear” is in the background.

Instead of savoring “stuff,” try bringing home a version of yourself that’s been profoundly altered and reinvigorated by the place you traveled.

As your trip winds down, you may start to experience some resistance, maybe even a little bit of dread. The long to-do list when you get home. The Monday morning mediocrity. “Back to reality” is the clichéd refrain.

But what if coming home could be just as juicy as leaving?

Tidy Travel Tip #3: Welcome yourself home

Click your heels, Dorothy, there’s simply no place like home.

Says Booth, “I would use the words ‘joyful anticipation.’ That’s what gets us on the trip in the first place.”

And if we think of a trip as the completion of something—a departure, a journey, a return—the return is crucial to completion. There’s fulfillment in that process. For Booth, coming home is just as joyful as going on a trip.

“To be in my own home, my own bed, surrounded by all my things. To me it’s so delicious, being in my own special comfort place.”

Find something to value in coming home. What will you look forward to? What do you appreciate about your home, your life? What will make the journey have a sweet, happy ending, no matter how the final leg plays out?

Share your comments on using these tidy travel tips. We’d love to hear from you and so would your fellow travelers.

3 Comments

  1. Diane Wilkinson

    I recently read both Condo’s books on tidying up. Your tidy travel tips are spot on. I’ve often told my complaining children that the long flight is the price we pay to see wonderful places in the world. A positive outlook can make most any glitch in the journey a part of the adventure.

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  2. Brenda Bowling

    I can’t wait to buy the book! I have heard of this approach to the things around you, but never as it relates to travel. I want to plan a trip so I can try these ideas.

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  3. Joan Calabree

    I am on a 21 day trip right now. When I packed my suitcase for this trip, I packed in the Marie Kondo fashion where my suitcase had the clothes folded side by side. Top together. Bottoms together. I have found whatever I’m looking for so easily. This can make life easier!

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