The After Travel Effect: A Clear Space – Declutter

Have you ever come back from a trip and suddenly become overwhelmed by the amounts of things that inhabit your space? Like when you stay at an airbnb and you live on the bare essentials that that you were able to pack into your suitcase.  Hanging a few items in the closet of the airbnb, and knowing those are your only clothing options – no fuss or overthinking “what am I going to wear”? Am I the only one?

Decluttering by definition is to:

  1. remove a mess from an untidy area
  2. organize and prioritize – material objects, your commitments, and/or goals, etc.


Imagine you are packing for a backpacking trip across South America, and you are to only pack the bare necessities, the things you need to live and maybe a couple of luxury items that you may want to have but you don’t really need to survive and function on a daily basis. After you’ve packed and have started the first leg of your trip, you start to get used to living with those items hand picked by you, necessary for your daily functioning. You also get used to knowing exactly what you are carrying and you start to feel lighter (even though you are carrying a backpacking backpack). You start to feel lighter because not only do you know every single item that you have in your backpack, but also because you know that you actually use each item everyday. You’re not carrying dead weight.

So what am I trying to get at here? 

Every time I come back from a trip, I have a tendency to declutter my space. I do this because after a trip and living on only a few items everyday, it makes me realize that I don’t need many other things. I don’t need the extra clutter that I end up not using, and only end up collecting dust in the dark nooks and crannies of my closet or under my bed. I realize (like many) that half of the things I own (maybe even more) are items I still hold on to because of the sentimental value they have, and not really for the practicality of it.


Why we need to declutter more often 


We don’t need 5451643 of a single item

Though that number might seem exaggerated, it can accumulate to something exaggerated the more we hold on to stuff. While it’s nice to have extra pair of {insert item that we have of large quantities of} for that scenario we keep picturing in our head, it’s not going to serve us now and who knows if it will going forward.  I will talk more about this later, but for one thing, if I feel like if I need something because of x,y,z scenarios, I will buy it then, when the time comes and not now. Also, when it comes to clothes we are always changing our style and things that we like anyways, so maybe having the few staple items might be a good idea to start.


Clear space, clear mind

Imagine a space where we see and start to appreciate the details of the floor, the light within the walls of the room, and a tidy bed with your inviting pillows, and nothing more. Bliss. A space where all the things that inhabited a corner actually meant something, and served a frequent purpose.  A decluttered space where you only had the daily necessities and the space to store them adequately. We know what we have, and where it is. We are mindful of the items in your space and their value. They enhance our life, not boggle it down with clutter and the unknown of what we have. Just think about it.



Find happiness in other things – not materialistic items

Sometimes because of our lifestyle and culture (especially in the States, but really anywhere in the “1st world”), we are constantly told to consume and buy the newest iPhone, the newest car, the same sweater in 3 different shades, the same jeans because “these are darker than the other ones I already have” even though they are similar. We can’t let our happiness depend on material items – we have to allow it to depend more on us as people, our achievements, our projects, our experiences, and hobbies.

3 things we can do this week to declutter



Don’t buy for the sake of buying

The thing I started doing more and more is be mindful of my purchases. Does it have a purpose? Does it have a space for storage? Do I want it or need it? I tend to ask myself these 3 questions, and usually the answer is pretty straight forward. If however the item I need ends up being something I absolutely need but don’t have space for, I try to follow the rule that I would have to get rid of something else if I make the purchase.  It’s easier said than done, I am still working on it.



Eliminate the paper

For one, we’ll be doing the environment a favor, but also really importantly, we’ll also be doing yourself a favor. When it comes to paper, I declutter it by going through it all and figuring out if I need it – there really is no shortcut. For important documents, I keep them all in an expandable folder to compartmentalize and actually know where those important documents are. When it comes to bills, try to go green and eliminate paper bills being sent to your home.  The way we are headed anyways, account updates and payments have become an instant thing, that by the time you receive your bank statement, chances are it’s outdated. When it comes to notes and books from school, I tend to keep the ones specific to my college major and the other notes for classes I had to take, I toss out. I resell my books and/or donate them. The only other category of paper I keep in my space these days are a few brochures and entrance tickets to museums from my travels 🙂 it’s for a project I am working on shhh!



Store seasonal items

Any seasonal item whether it was a Christmas tree/decorations to clothes I am not wearing because of the current weather where I live, I put it away. I try this as soon as the season changes so that I can take less time trying to figure out what I am going to wear, and I can get on to other things that make me happy, like writing, reading, or catching up on my current international series/show lol.



Decluttering conclusions

So…will you start to declutter your space? Honestly, this urge to declutter like I mentioned before didn’t come until after a few of my travels, and staying in really clean, and pretty airbnbs.  As unrealistic as it may seem from time to time, I’ll be honest when I say that it sometimes strikes me as something impossible to just live on the bare necessities, and to model my everyday life and space to an living experience I had at a pretty airbnb. However, something I just can’t let go of was the sensation of freedom it brought me. The lightness and brightness that cheered me up and allowed me to focus on the things that mattered to me.

I do notice that I enjoy my space a lot, and I try to have it be a space that relaxes me and a place I feel peace amid the craziness of everyday life. Mentally, it has helped to keep any stress and/or worries out of my head to focus on other things that matter. I’ve even gone so far as to paint my space a lighter shade for increased lighting and brightness because the that makes me happy. Overall, to declutter doesn’t mean to deprive ourselves of things, but more so to add to our life – to be mindful and peaceful with the items we own and inhabit our space; our space to relax, be ourselves, to refocus and realign. It’s about adding meaning and value, not clutter and objects.

Happy decluttering!

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