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The 30-Day Declutter Challenge

Dan Wessell

It has perhaps never been easier to accumulate clutter. Even if you’re not trying to acquire new possessions, you can suddenly find your home filled with items you don’t need. Fortunately, it’s also pretty easy to get rid of all that extra stuff; all it takes is a little dedication and a good plan.

If you’ve been feeling distracted, overwhelmed, or simply surrounded by things you don’t like or use, following this 30-day declutter challenge for a month will help you clear the clutter and put you on the path to maintain a clutter-free life.

This  challenge can be done at any time, whether you start on the first day of the new year or at the start of a new month—or on any day you decide it’s time to make a change.

  1. The challenge is designed to start simple, easing you into the habit of decluttering.
  2. It then guides you through larger but more satisfying decluttering projects that will instantly improve your daily life.
  3. Finally, it prompts you to deal with even the most daunting of spaces, which you’ll now be ready to tackle.

The challenge also is flexible. Because everyone’s lives and homes look different, you can substitute a daily task that doesn’t apply to you with a different one, or switch a task from one day to another to accommodate your schedule.

Let’s get started…

Day 1: Pens and Pencils

Start small, by collecting all the pens and pencils in your home. Make sure to look everywhere, as small items like these tend to migrate from room to room. Test pens to determine whether they still work, and discard any that don’t. Sharpen pencils that need sharpening. Then organize them all neatly where you intend for them to “live” permanently: for example, a cupful of pens in your office, another in the kitchen, and a few pens in your bag.

Day 2: Bags and Pockets

Clean out all your bags, backpacks, wallets, and luggage. While you’re at it, go through the pockets of your coats. Check every pouch, pocket, and hidden section for gum wrappers, scribbled notes, and receipts. (If you’re lucky, you might find some cash, too.) Throw away any junk, and put other items back in their proper place.

Doing this can jump-start a habit of cleaning the clutter from your bag and coat at the end of each day. Start that now, and you’ll never have to do a major decluttering of them again.

Day 3: Food

Go through your refrigerator, freezer, cupboards, pantry, and any other food storage areas you have. Throw away anything that’s expired or unwanted. (You may also choose to donate unopened, nonperishable foods.) Organize what’s left, so you can see and use what you have.

With food, or any item you shop for and use often, keeping your current stock well-organized—so that you can see everything when you open the fridge or cupboard—will help you avoid buying things you don’t need in the future.

Day 4: Junk Drawers

A junk drawer (and this does not technically have to be a drawer; it may be a bedside table, a large bin, a shelf, etc.) is a handy solution to the problem of where to put those necessary odds and ends that don’t have an obvious “home” in your home or apartment. It should not, however, be a receptacle for literal junk, that is, stuff you will never use. Today, sort through your junk areas and separate the useful things from the clutter.

Day 5: Entryways

In any home, the spot just inside the door is crucial in terms of preventing clutter. These areas tend to become a dumping ground for jackets, shoes, keys, glasses, bags, mail, and everything else we want to put down the minute we get home.

The first step in fixing this problem is to tidy the area, putting everything away where it belongs (for example, coats into the hall closet).

The second step is to set up your entryway so that it doesn’t become a clutter hotspot in the future.

In your entryway or any high-traffic area, cut down on clutter by giving specific items a dedicated home, for example, a hook or dish for your keys. Also remove anything that encourages the collection of clutter; no one will ever sit on that decorative chair by the door, but it will practically beg people to pile coats on top of it.

Day 6: Unwanted Clothes

Hopefully, those first five days went well and you’re feeling ready to take your decluttering to the next level. For the next five days, the challenge will focus on your wardrobe. We’re giving that area extra attention because (a) most people buy a lot of clothes and find it difficult to part with them, and (b) clearing out your wardrobe can be one of the most satisfying decluttering projects. When done thoroughly, it can help you move on to decluttering the rest of your home. If you don’t need the full five days for this, take some time off or concentrate on another cluttered area that needs extra work.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed at this stage, here are eight reasons to declutter and take back control of your home.

On this first wardrobe day, do a quick sweep of your clothes, shoes, and accessories and gather together any obvious candidates for donation or the trash. Don’t stress about doing a major closet overhaul today; just grab low-hanging fruit, like items that are damaged beyond repair, do not fit, or haven’t been your style in 10 years.

Day 7: Closet, Part 1

Today, evaluate everything in your closet and decide what you want to keep. If you have a large wardrobe, split this task between today and tomorrow, using today to focus on the clothes you wear for work, on weekends, on evenings out, and on dressy occasions. If you store your off-season clothes elsewhere, you can either include them in this declutter, or plan to do another round of closet cleaning when the seasons change. The most efficient way to declutter a closet is to take every item out, try everything on, and put back only those things you truly like, that fit you well, that work with your lifestyle, and that you know you will wear.

Off-Season Pieces

A good way to minimize closet clutter long-term is to pack up your off-season pieces and store them elsewhere, like in the back of the closet or under the bed.

This way, you won’t be distracted by clothes that are temporarily unwearable, so you’ll have a much better understanding of exactly what you own. Though it may seem confusing, the method of storing off-season clothing (and other seasonal items, like holiday decorations) out of view has the same effect as clearly displaying frequently used items like food and makeup. In both cases, you’re minimizing possible distractions and organizing your belongings so you can see exactly what you’re working with, removing any confusion about how much you already have, and preventing the purchase of duplicates.

Day 8: Closet, Part 2

Today, continue with the rest of your clothing, concentrating on workout clothes, sleep- and lounge-wear, undergarments, socks, and anything else you didn’t cover yesterday. When you’re done, you should have a pared down wardrobe and two or three piles of clothes you don’t want.


When cleaning out your wardrobe, sort the pieces you don’t want into three piles: one for trash, one for donation and/or sale, and (if applicable) one for tailoring or repair.

Day 9: Outerwear

Today, continue to clear out your wardrobe by sorting through your coats, jackets, vests, and other outerwear.

When clearing out your closet, you may notice wardrobe gaps that you want or need to fill (maybe you have a light jacket and a heavy-duty parka, but nothing appropriate for the in-between weather). Take the time to write those needs down, so that in the future you can shop with a purpose. This works well to prevent buying whatever strikes you in the moment, thus collecting more clothes that will go unworn, cluttering up your closet once more.

Day 10: Accessories

Finally, take care of the little items like shoes, boots, bags, hats, gloves, scarves, jewelry, belts, etc. In addition to removing items you no longer want or need, think about how you organize these small pieces and how you can improve your setup to prevent your accessories from getting cluttered again. While decluttering, you may come across broken or otherwise unusable accessories that you’ve been meaning to take to the jeweler or cobbler.

Be very honest with yourself here; if you really wanted to wear these things, would you have had them repaired by now? Did you simply forget or been busy, schedule a specific time into your calendar to take these items to be fixed. Have you been hanging on to them for vague, aspirational reasons (think satin stilettos that you’ve never worn, but kept in the closet for ten years just in case you’re invited to a fabulous party) this might be the time to let them go.

Day 11: Paper

For the next five days, we’ll focus on decluttering paper items that tend to pile up, if you’re not paying very close attention. Stacks of magazines, newspapers, catalogs, and other incoming mail can be difficult to declutter. (If the thought of finally getting rid of this stuff doesn’t motivate you, consider that excess paper can also be a fire hazard.) It’s just so easy to convince yourself that you really will read them all…someday. Take this day to sort through all those stacks of reading material and mail. Rescue anything important, and deal with it, then recycle the rest.

Day 12: Books

Even if you take pride in your book collection, you probably own at least a few volumes you’ll never, ever read again. Sort through all your books (including those that have escaped from your bookshelves and are scattered around your home) and donate the ones you no longer want.

Day 13: Office Supplies

Whether or not you have a home office, it’s likely that you’ve accumulated a bunch of notebooks, labels, envelopes, stamps, paper clips, staples, etc. in your home. Round them up today and organize them, getting rid of anything you no longer need. While you’re doing this, check up on those pens from Day 1, and reorganize them if they’ve gotten out of control.


Tasks like this are a good reminder that decluttering is a daily habit. When you return lost pens, or any household items, to their home every time you come across them, you won’t have to do regular major cleanups just to keep your place looking neat. Additionally, you won’t keep buying more pens because you can’t find the ones you already own.

Day 14: Filing

There’s no use pretending this one is fun, but it’s necessary, and it will make your life so much easier when you need to find your car title or the name of that doctor you went to in 2005. Go through your filing cabinet (or whatever you use as a system for storing paperwork) and organize everything—recycling or shredding papers you no longer need. It’s worth the effort to shred any materials that contain personally identifiable information, such as bank statements, bills, and credit card offers.

You’re doing a great job. Keep going!

Day 15: Tech/Electronics

If you have a cache of old laptops, cords, cables, plugs, chargers, memory cards, and so on, gather them all in one room and go through them. Also grab small appliances that may no longer work, like lamps or clock radios. Research how to responsibly get rid of tech equipment that you don’t or can’t use, and organize the rest so that the next time you need a spare pair of earbuds or a phone charger, you’ll know where to find it—and that it works.

Day 16: Bedroom

You’re already halfway through your 30-day declutter challenge! The next seven days will address the main rooms or areas in your home, starting with your bedroom. Most people want their bedroom to be a calm space, conducive to sleep and relaxation. To achieve this, get rid of superfluous furniture and decorative items in your bedroom, and return items that belong in other rooms to their homes. Put away anything like clean clothes or extra blankets piled on the bed that might be cluttering up the space.

A Bit of Advice:

If you share a bedroom, don’t move or discard someone else’s belongings without asking. Hopefully, this challenge can be done by all members of your household but, if not, concentrate only on spaces and things that are yours alone. This goes not just for bedrooms, but any shared areas or belongings in your home. Everyone has their own definition of what is and isn’t clutter, so focus on your own clearly defined clutter first.

Day 17: Bathroom

Many products stored or used in the bathroom have relatively short shelf lives, so check expiration dates and make sure your makeup, skincare, and medicines are still good. Also check that you’re not holding on to any empty bottles of soap, shampoo, or cleaning supplies. If you have shelving units, shower caddies, or similar storage containers in your bathroom, consider whether they make the space easier to use or just add to the clutter.

Storage containers can help you corral small items or manage a difficult space (such as a bathroom with no built-in shelves or cabinets). But, more often, we buy these containers without fully considering whether they’re needed, and they soon become clutter themselves. When in doubt, don’t buy storage containers unless you know exactly how and where you’ll use them.

Day 18: Linen Closet

Linen closets, or wherever you store those extra towels, sheets, pillowcases, and blankets, can easily become overstuffed and disorganized. Today, sort through your linens and remove anything that you don’t use. Unless you really keep on top of it, your linen closet can become a black hole of unused, yet useful, items. If you find you’re creating extra space in your linen closet, you may choose to store seasonal linens or decorations there, as well.

Day 19: Storage Area of Your Choice

On this day, clear out any indoor storage area that hasn’t been covered yet. This could be a hall closet, a bedroom closet that wasn’t covered in your wardrobe clear-out, a chest, or the space under the bed.

During this seven-day room-clearing section of the challenge, leave the attic, basement, garage, and outdoors alone for now, as you’ll get to them later—unless, of course, you have some extra time and really feel like tackling them.

In general, if you’re ever motivated to declutter something, go with it!

Day 20: Kitchen

Today, clear your kitchen of any unused or unwanted items such as cookware, dishes, cutlery, glassware, mugs, utensils, and so on. Don’t forget to assess gadgets and small appliances, like potato peelers or blenders, and be honest with yourself about whether you really use them. Especially be on the lookout for duplicates of items that may be taking up your kitchen storage space. To prevent future kitchen clutter, organize those items you do use regularly so that everything is easily accessible.

Day 21: Dining Room

Dining room clutter is usually made up of items that drift in from other rooms. Today, grab anything that doesn’t belong here and return shoes to the closet, mugs to the kitchen, etc. You may also have too much dining room furniture, especially if you downsized from a larger space or have fewer people living with you and visiting than in the past. If you have 10 chairs and never host more than four people, those extra chairs may now be functioning as clutter, and you might be better off without them.

If your home or apartment doesn’t have a separate living room and dining room, you can either adapt Days 21 and 22 to cover other rooms, or split your space into sections. In a one-bedroom apartment, for example, your “dining room” can be the area where you eat (even if it’s just a table) and your “living room” may contain a couch, coffee table, and TV stand.

Day 22: Living Room

Much like the dining room, the living room can collect things that people bring from elsewhere and forget to put away. Scan the room for this type of clutter, being careful not to miss out-of-place items that have been lying around so long that you don’t normally notice them. Depending on how often you actually use your living room, you may find a variety of rarely used items cluttering up the space.

Day 23: Your Personal Clutter Hotspot

This day is another wild card to allow for the quirks of your space and your life. Many homes have a tricky no man’s land where clutter builds up, like the stairs or a little corner nook; you may also have a room not covered in this challenge, like a laundry room or sunroom. Alternately, you can take this day to deal with a clutter hotspot outside your home, like your desk at work, or to revisit any of the prior topics that didn’t get fully addressed in one day.

Day 24: Attic and Basement

You might think the expression “out of sight, out of mind” would apply to clutter—after all, it’s easy enough to shove any objects we don’t want to make decisions about into one of these spacious storage areas. But just being aware that there’s a mess of stuff hiding above or below can be a subtle source of stress. Venture downstairs or upstairs today and sort through those items you’ve stashed away. You may find many things that were difficult to part with at the time, but that you’re now happy to get rid of.  Precious memories may fall into this category, if so, here are more tips on how to declutter sentimental items.

Day 25: Car

Most of us spend so much time in our cars that, if we’re not vigilant, they can end up filled with junk, like empty coffee cups, and misplaced items, like scarves or books. The good news is, it doesn’t take too long to clean out your vehicle, so do that today.

If you don’t have a vehicle or any outdoor storage areas, consider taking this day and Day 26 to start planning a yard sale to get rid of the items that didn’t make the cut in this challenge.

Day 26: Outdoor Areas

If you have a garage, shed, porch, steps, or any other outdoor area that’s a magnet for clutter, take this day to sort through everything that’s out there. If you’ve recently moved or downsized, you may have donated or gotten rid of a lot of the items that tend to live in these spaces, but, if you haven’t, clearing cluttered outdoor areas can be a real game-changer. Organize the things you use, and get rid of the things you don’t.

Day 27: Pet and Plant Supplies

With pets and plants come toys, food containers, tools, gloves, and other necessary (and not so necessary) accessories. If you haven’t already dealt with these things on another day, figure out which stuffed toys or terracotta pots you still want, throw out anything that can’t be used, and pass the rest on to another pet- or plant-lover.

Day 28: DIY and Emergency Supplies

You may have encountered some of these in your junk drawer or elsewhere, but today is the day to round up and sort out all the little things you reach for when something needs fixing: batteries, light bulbs, tools, user manuals, tape, screws, hooks, buttons, scissors, needles, thread, and other assorted household bits. Also check out your emergency supplies like flashlights, candles, and matches. Your goal is to organize everything so that it’s readily accessible when you need it, and, of course, to discard anything that’s broken, expired or that you’ll never use.

Day 29: Hobby Equipment and Collections

You may not want to get rid of any of your art supplies, exercise equipment, DVDs, or souvenir refrigerator magnets. But you should go through it all anyway, because—despite your best intentions—collectibles and hobby equipment and supplies can quickly become unmanageable clutter. You may discover that you don’t really use every item you own, or that you’re holding on to some things that no longer make you happy. If so, consider gifting these items to family or friends or donating them to someone who will use and enjoy them. Even if you keep it all, simply reorganizing these items can seriously clear up space in your home, making it easier for you to practice your hobby or appreciate the objects you’ve collected.

Day 30: Email

Email might not seem like something you need to declutter—after all, it doesn’t take up physical space. But repeatedly opening an inbox full of messages you haven’t read or acted on can really drain your energy, making you less productive. Delete what you don’t need, flag what you have to take care of, and save messages you want to preserve to the appropriate folder. (If you don’t have separate folders, create some now.) There are also tools to maximize your email enjoyment and productivity. You can also choose to expand this virtual decluttering to your contacts list, digital photos, documents, music, social media, or anything online that makes you feel overwhelmed.

This last day also can serve as inspiration to declutter your physical environment further, or to move on to the next level of decluttering and revamp your schedule, the activities you participate in, and the people you choose to make time for. Once you start the decluttering process, it will become easier to manage the daily inflow of stuff—helping prevent the accumulation of new clutter and making your life run more smoothly overall.

And now, 30 days later, you’re done! Or, even if you’re not done, you’ve made a tremendous start. If you’re living in a home where you’ve stayed for more than 20 years, you may find that this 30-day declutter challenge equals round one, rather than the end game. Take a break if you need to, and then pick a new month and begin again.

Which types of household clutter do you find the most challenging to deal with? Have you created your own great strategies for managing the stuff that collects across our lives? Please share with us and other readers—both your successes and your ongoing clutter challenges—in the comments below.

How Much Should You Save to Move?

Derek McKinney

Most people feel a little overwhelmed at the very thought of moving to a new home. Between packing, figuring out logistics, and making decisions about everything from hiring and tipping movers to decluttering your possessions, it’s certainly a lot to contemplate. And that’s before you even get to one of the most important moving-related questions: how much is all of this going to cost?

A quick online search will turn up a range of average prices based on average homes and average distances, but, perhaps frustratingly, the real answer is: it depends. Once you factor in your unique circumstances, including all the details of how, where, and when you plan to move, you might arrive at an estimated cost of anywhere from $200 to $10,000. The reason the range is so broad is that so many factors go into determining the price of any individual relocation. These include how far you and your belongings are traveling, how much stuff you own, whether or not you use professional movers, and the cost of living in your region. It also takes into account the nearly endless variety of expenses any particular move might involve – for example, driving cross-country, shipping boxes, renting a storage unit, staying in temporary housing until your new place is ready, and so on.

If you’re feeling even more overwhelmed now, don’t worry. We created this guide to take the guess work out of making a moving budget. In it, we’ll describe the factors you need to consider and help you figure out, based on your own circumstances, how much you need to save to move.

Cost of Moving Expenses

The first set of expenses to consider are the more obvious (and less obvious) costs of moving itself: transporting you and your things to your new location. Not every one of these costs will apply to you, of course, and you may have different additional expenses due to your situation. So picture your personal move, not a generic move, as you add up these budget items.


Many people rent a storage unit when they move, with plans to store some items there either temporarily (say, while their new house is being painted) or longer-term (perhaps while they rent an apartment and search for a house to buy.) The costs associated with a storage unit include not just the rent (different sizes and types of storage unit will have different monthly rates) but getting items in and out of the unit. If movers are transporting your household items to the storage unit and your home, that will cost more. If you’ll need to hire movers to clear out the unit in the future, that, too, is a cost you’ll have to plan for.

Moving Service

There are many options between a full service moving company (i.e., one who packs your home, transports your stuff on their truck, and unpacks at the new location) and a fully DIY move. You may choose to pack yourself but rent a truck. You may rent a pod that’s packed by you and transported by professionals. You may hire a crew to load and unload your boxes but drive the truck yourself. All of these options come with different prices, and even within those categories, the final price can vary widely depending on your location and circumstances.

Transportation Costs

Whether you’re driving your own car or a rented truck, flying, or using any other means of transportation, there will be costs associated with the trip. Try to figure out the price of fuel, tolls, plane tickets, and any other transportation-related charges as well as you can before the actual move.

Moving Supplies

This includes boxes, tape, packing materials, and anything else you need to physically pack up your things. You can probably find much of this for free or at a discount, but think about whether you’ll need specialized boxes (e.g. wardrobe boxes or mirror boxes) which you’ll likely have to buy new. If you’re using a moving company, these supplies may be included; though that option will of course make the service more expensive.


If you’re moving with a pet, your expenses may or may not increase. But while transporting your cat across town in your own car is free, flying your dog across the country will cost you. So, perhaps, will seeking out pet-friendly hotels on a long drive or paying vet bills and fees to make sure your pet’s vaccines are updated and paperwork is in order. Figure out what moving your pet entails and budget for everything whether that means extra food, a new carrier, or additional airline fees.

Extra Moving Charges

Keep in mind those extra little costs you might not immediately associate with moving. For example, you may choose to purchase additional insurance to cover you in case of damage to your belongings during the move. You’ll probably have to tip some people too, whether that’s your movers (remember that each person on the crew should get a tip, even if different people load and unload your stuff) or valets and gas station attendants you encounter along the way.

Soft Costs

This category includes necessities like lodging, parking, food, and all the little things you’ll have to pay for on the day or days of your move. It might involve some items you’d never buy ordinarily, like water – it’s easy to drink from the tap or filtration system at home, but if you’re spending three days on the road, you might need lots of bottled water.

The Unexpected

Your car gets a flat. Your flight is delayed, necessitating a hotel stay. Your movers take longer than planned. The storage unit you chose is too small, so you have to rent a bigger one. Your cellphone breaks en route and you have to stop and have it repaired. It’s impossible to list all these unpleasant possibilities, because, well, they’re unexpected. (And they can be very minor, like needing to buy some allergy medication or scissors.) But while they probably won’t happen, they might, so make sure you have some extra money saved up just in case.

Moving Out of State

An out-of-state move can mean a more expensive move, for two reasons. One is the paperwork required to make your new residence official – think vehicle registration and the like. The other is that out-of-state moves often involve greater distances, which means moving services cost more and even DIY moves rack up higher transportation costs. (Often but not always; a move from Connecticut to Rhode Island might take 20 minutes, while a move from west to east Texas could take 13 hours.)

When you’re moving from one state to another, take the time to research specific costs involved. Ask your moving company what impact, if any, crossing state lines will have on the cost of your move. If you’re driving yourself, plan out your route to determine how long it will take and how the distance or particular route will (or will not) cost you extra money. If you’re coming from a state without tolls to a region where they’re common, you might be shocked at how much cash you need to have on hand for the drive. If you’re moving to or from Alaska, you’ll have to pass through Canada along the way. If you’re moving to or from Hawaii, you’ll need to ship your vehicle and household goods.

Moving Cross-Country

While out-of-state doesn’t always translate to long distance, a cross-country move becomes more complex simply because of the mileage involved. A different set of budgeting decisions comes into play with this type of move, as you have to consider the cost of driving versus flying, and the possibility that your movers might arrive at your new home days or weeks after you do. There are some obvious price increases with a longer move, like more fuel for your rental truck or a higher bill from your movers. But you may also need to spend more on things like mailing those last few boxes you thought would fit in your car (oops.) You might also choose to stay in a short-term rental while your furniture makes its way from Maine to California, or have your moving company store your goods on either end of the move to better coordinate with your own travel plans.

After the Move

Once the physical move is over, you’ll have to plan for a different category of moving-related expenses.

  • Research housing costs where you’re moving as compared to your old location. Don’t assume that renting or buying a house or apartment in your new town will cost the same as it does where you are now.
  • If you’re renting, remember that you will probably have to pay a deposit along with your first month’s rent. (In some cases, you’ll have to pay your last month’s rent upfront as well.)
  • If you’re buying a home, determine what repairs need to be made, both short- and long-term. Anything involving wiring or structural issues will probably have to be done right away; landscaping can probably wait much longer.
  • Add up the cost of utilities like electricity, gas, oil, and water. Research local options for phone, cable, and internet service, as these can vary greatly between different states and cities.
  • If you’re moving to another state and you own a vehicle, you’ll probably have to obtain a new driver’s license and vehicle registration. Find out how soon after your move this needs to get done. Also research other vehicle-related expenses like inspections.
  • Insurance rates for your home and car can vary based on where you live, even for different addresses within the same area. When looking into insurance, also determine whether specific types of insurance, e.g. flood insurance, are recommended or required in your new location.
  • Unless you packed up every last thing in your old kitchen, remember that you’ll have an initial high grocery bill when you restock on pantry staples and basic necessities.
  • You may also choose to buy new furniture and home décor items for your new home. Some of these will be more urgent needs than others. You’ll also probably have to buy all new cleaning supplies, and possibly equipment like shovels, lawn mowers, etc.
  • Unless you brought your shampoo, cotton balls, and other toiletries and personal items with you, you’ll probably have to hit the drugstore for a large and possibly costly purchase of necessities to start you off in your new place.

A tip to help you budget for these expenses is to write a list of whichever of the above apply to you (and add anything else you think of) and figure out the cost for each one. Then consider which are necessities (e.g., heating your home) and which can be postponed (e.g., most new furniture.)

Ways to Reduce Moving Costs

While moving can be very expensive, it doesn’t always have to be. There are ways to reduce the cost.

  • Don’t just dump or give away old items. Instead, have a garage sale. You might be surprised how many people are willing to pay for your cast-offs. And even if you keep prices low, these sales can quickly add up.
  • Find free or low-cost boxes and other moving supplies. There are lots of affordable sources for boxes and other supplies if you have time to seek them out.
  • Take advantage of any discounts you may have access to through memberships or affiliations. For example, if you’re driving cross-country, your AARP membership can reduce the cost of hotel stays.
  • Is your schedule flexible? You can save money by moving during off-peak times. Fewer people move in winter, in the middle of the month, and on weekdays, meaning these time slots generally cost less.
  • If your friends and family are willing, ask them to help you with packing, cleaning, or other tasks that you would otherwise have to pay professionals to do.
  • If you’re moving out of a rental and you put down a deposit, make sure you get it back. This can be easy to forget about in the hectic stages of moving, but take the time to do what your landlord requires and follow up with them if necessary.

Though unexpected costs may pop up along the way, moving expenses don’t have to be a total surprise. With some planning and forethought, you can ensure your move will go smoothly, both for you and your wallet.

Moving? Need maintenance tips for your new home or want to know how insurance is impacted by a move? Get this information and more by signing up for our free newsletter.

Learning to Love Traveling Alone

Extra Mile

Solo female travelers make up an increasing percentage of vacationers, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed by the travel industry. In 2015, the New York Times reported that solo leisure travel was up 15 percent from two years earlier and noted that in response, some cruise lines and hotels have dropped long-standing impediments to solo travel, such as single supplements and other fees. And in 2017, Conde Nast Traveler highlighted an exciting aspect of this trend: the growing number of solo women booking adventurous trips.

Despite the image of a young backpacker that often accompanies such coverage, these new solo tourists are not all millennial women setting out to explore the world for the first time. In fact, many are older women who find that they finally have the time and money to embark on an adventure—and they’re not going to stay home just because they’re single, or married to someone who doesn’t share their wanderlust.

If you’re a woman who’s considering traveling alone for the first time, here are some of the benefits of taking a solo journey.

SEE ALSO: Traveling? Are You Covered by Insurance?

You Can Go Anywhere You Want

It sounds obvious—of course a solo traveler can pick her own destination. But this is a big change for people who have always had to make compromises when planning trips—defaulting to a child-friendly hotel, following along as a spouse pursues their hobbies, or selecting a location because it’s a convenient mid-point between reuniting family members. If that’s how you’ve traveled in the past, being able to choose exactly where you go, and when, and for how long—based entirely on your own interests—can be a truly eye-opening experience.

That’s because solo travel forces you to identify and act on your own wants and needs. Maybe you’ve always been willing to endure your spouse’s road trips, but left to your own devices, you realize that you’d prefer a car-free vacation. Sure, you may have a mental image of solo female travelers bravely hiking through South America, but this is your chance to choose a destination that appeals to YOU. If you would rather relax on a beach in Florida, go for it.

You Can Do Anything You Want

Do you wake up at 5:00 a.m. to pack in all the sightseeing you can, or do you prefer to spend your afternoons people-watching in cafes? Do you like to stay in one hotel, or jump around to different lodgings in various locations? Do you like going out for every meal, or cooking in your room? Does your ideal packing list include fancy dresses, hiking boots, bikinis, or all three? Do you want to learn new skills, visit museums, or shop all day?

You get the point of these questions: There are endless variables that go into planning your travels, and when you only have yourself to take care of, you can structure them however you please.

As a solo traveler, you can tailor your trip around the activities you like, and move at the pace you want. You don’t have to accommodate anyone else’s sightseeing goals, food preferences, or bedtime. But perhaps most important, you can be spontaneous.

If a site you’d planned to visit looks dull, you can skip it and move on to something more exciting. If you want to tick items off your bucket list, you don’t have to worry about boring or overwhelming your travel companions. If you feel tired and decide to spend one day chilling out rather than exploring, you can do that, and no one will be there to make you feel guilty about it.

While you are planning your itinerary, you might find a private tour or group tour that happens to provide exactly what you’re looking for. Though this isn’t exactly traveling alone, it could be the best option for you, and one you might not take advantage of if your family or friends were traveling with you. Plus, if you’re nervous about being on your own in a place where you don’t speak the language, signing up for a tour, class, or other activity that incorporates free time can be your gateway to true solo travel.

You Can Spend Time Alone

If you’re an introvert, you know you need time alone to recharge. A trip away from your daily obligations can be just what you need after a particularly stressful time in your life. And if you have a habit of giving too much time to others, and not reserving enough for yourself, this can help you break out of it.

If you’re more extroverted, the idea of spending ten, five, or even two days alone might sound terrifying—or really boring. But the experience can be just as rewarding, forcing you out of your externally-focused comfort zone and encouraging you to be a little more introspective than usual. Besides, if you’re naturally outgoing, you’ll probably end up talking to strangers anyway.

You Can Make New Connections

Sure, you can chat with locals or fellow tourists while traveling with a spouse or a friend. But when you’re on your own, you can engage with new people in a way that you probably wouldn’t if you had a built-in conversation partner. As a solo traveler, you can make a concerted effort to meet new people by attending a public event or finding accommodation with a local host. Or, you can simply remain open to small talk with those you encounter as you explore your surroundings.

Another social opportunity that solo travel brings is the chance to meet up with far-flung friends and acquaintances. Perhaps you have an old friend who has moved to another country, or an online correspondent who lives in another city, or a distant relative who you’ve never met. Reach out and invite them to meet up for a quick drink or a meal when you’re in their town. You’ll get to have a one-on-one talk you might not be able to arrange otherwise, and maybe they’ll even offer to be your personal tour guide for the day.

You Can Focus on Personal Growth

You don’t have to be a fan of the Eat, Pray, Love style of travel narrative to realize that a journey can be transformative. A solo trip is the perfect way to indulge in a so-called “selfish” pursuit, like attending a yoga or meditation retreat, relaxing or concentrating on your health at a spa, or designing your own idea of a restorative getaway.

Maybe you want to read books on a balcony with a gorgeous view, or walk for hours through peaceful woods. When you’re traveling by yourself, no one can tell you that your time would be better spent doing something else. Well, they can, but they’ll be at home, and you’ll be in a new setting having a life-changing experience.

When you venture out on your own, whether it’s on an around-the-world adventure or a weekend getaway to a nearby city, you don’t just learn about life in other places—you learn about yourself, too. Traveling alone is not always easy, but it can be just as exciting and enjoyable as traveling with others. And the confidence that comes from navigating the world on your own will last long after you return home.

READ MORE: 8 Travel Apps to Make Your Next Trip Easy and Fun