life in a tiny apartment.

May 29, 2013

Tip #66: Tidy up before you go on vacation.

Bits of entirely practical advice for surviving the return home after a short stint away. These tips require a modicum of forethought, but the payoff is considerable.

1). Ditch your fresh flowers. Or if you think they’ll survive your time away, give them fresh water. Parting is sweet sorrow, I know. But there is nothing worse than the stink of sour flower water. Returning to a diminutive apartment is hard enough, no need for it to be stinky too.

2). Take out your trash before you leave. Have a I written yet about the time that I left my apartment to come home for Christmas but I failed to empty to the trash? Well. If you’ve ever been curious about the lifecycle of  the common house fly, my apartment would have been the perfect case study. When I finally returned, I didn’t find a mess of maggots, but an entire apartment infested with enormous bugs. It was as though someone had installed polka-dotted wallpaper where the dots are just slightly too far apart, and moving.

3). Leave your sink empty. Even if there’s only a coffee cup in the sink, take a minute to wash it up and wipe down that sink before you head out the door. Returning home to a sink with dirty dishes can make even the most restorative weekend seem like a distant memory.

PS. Last summer I urged you all to unpack your bags straightaway upon arrival home. This still stands. In fact, after a weekend at my parents’ where a sizable washer and dryer were at our disposal free of charge, I’m tempted to include the addendum that not only should you unpack straight away, but that you should make every effort to unpack clothes that are already clean. I doubt that I’ll trundle down to the hotel wash room the next time I’m off seeing the world, but a girl can dream. Emptying a bag directly into my drawers instead of directly into the laundry bin was just shy of incredible.

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  • Reply Lauren Ashley May 29, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    I couldn't agree more – before a tip I always go on a cleaning spree. In addition to the above, also like to come home to fresh linens, and a sparkly bathroom.

    • Reply Erin May 30, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      yes! excellent tips!

  • Reply SarahE May 29, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    My mom ingrained in me the need to clean house before vacation, that way you're not coming home to chores. Like Lauren Ashley said- it's nice to come home to clean sheets on your own bed 🙂

    And that tidbit about bugs in your apartment sounds soo gross. Just in case anyone needed a reminder to take out the trash!

    • Reply Erin May 30, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      Sorry for the gross-out factor! A cautionary tale…

  • Reply J and H from Beyond The Stoop May 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    we totally take our laundry with us when we go home. and "home" is over 400 miles away in ohio, a good 8 hours from jersey city. but hey, how much effort is it to toss it into the car and spend an hour or so doing laundry at your parents house when you sit around and relax the whole time anyways?! yes. totally worth it to unpack CLEAN clothes 😉

    • Reply Erin May 30, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      Glad to know I'm in good company!

  • Reply Gina Pebbz May 29, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    such great tips and advice once again =) xo

    Gina | Daffodils and Daydreams

  • Reply Mary May 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Heck I try to do these even if we're just going for a day trip. When I get home I'm always way too tired to actually clean up. It is better if I come home to a clean flat.

  • Reply Katie Ann May 29, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    YES, YES, and YES! Every single one of these. Especially number 3. There's just something wonderful about coming home to a clean sink (and house). Also, I'm laughing at the last one with the laundry. This is SO my husband and I. We're going to my parent's today, with the hopes of getting heaps of laundry done. Our machine broke down several months ago, and we will do anything to clean laundry for free.

    Take care,

  • Reply Raquelita May 29, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Yes to all. We must be kindred spirits. 😉 How am I possibly supposed to enjoy a holiday if I know I'm returning to a messy house?!

  • Reply pretty little things May 29, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    yes to all of these!! After memorial day week I made sure I was coming back to a clean apartment — and it was so nice and calming, and it totally makes all the difference! xo

  • Reply Margaret May 29, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    This all applies to a larger space as well. My husband goes nuts in the days before we leave because I clean and do laundry like a crazy person. In order to even START packing I have to do every piece of laundry in the house. Nothing's worse than coming home with a suitcase full of dirty clothes to a house full of dirty clothes (though this is magnified with two kids). I also make sure all the counters are as clean as possible and our entry room is sparkling so the first sight once we enter isn't a mess.

  • Reply Joan May 29, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Good tips. I always unpack immediately. Even though I am tired, it just feels right to have things in there place.

  • Reply Harri Davison May 29, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Brilliant tips. This is one of my favourite blog series, so honest & helpful. Thanks again!


    • Reply Erin May 30, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks so much! Always glad to see you here!

  • Reply Shelly Hardage-Wilkerson May 29, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    These tips would work for anyone really, even if they don't live in a small space. The flower tip is a good one and I learned the hard way about that. Sunflowers on the kitchen table sat for two weeks already before we left on a trip. It didn't even occur to me to empty the water and throw them in the compost before we left. They were pretty rough when we returned a week and a half later. It was sad, but oh so yucky.

    • Reply Erin May 30, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      Yes, exactly!

  • Reply Tesia Trisnadi May 29, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Oh gosh!! The fly tip made my skin crawl!! And the tip of the flower water is helpful, I have a bad habit of not changing flower water, and then mold starts. EW! Thanks for the tips!! <3


  • Reply Julia Barger May 29, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    My husband and I just got back from a weekend in NYC. I'm SO glad we remembered to take out the trash and clean up the place before we left. Coming home to a nice clean apartment was heaven like.

  • Reply Jen May 29, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    I practice these rules 100%! It really breaks my heart to find dead flowers so I am always conscious, whether going on a trip or not, of pitching the flowers before they become too long gone.

  • Reply kristyn May 30, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    great tips! the trash is so so important haha. and i always unpack right when i get home–then you don't have to worry about it later!


  • Reply Jay May 31, 2013 at 10:10 am

    My husband is so great about unpacking right when we return but I procrastinate.

    And the bug story… that makes my skin crawl.

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