Leaving for vacation is always an exciting but stressful day. The day you return from vacation, and even the following days, can also be stressful. Not only is your vacation over but you may be tired from traveling, be dealing with a tired and grumpy spouse, children, or be grumpy yourself. And then you have to think about dinner, returning to work and school, laundry, unpacking, housework, etc. You may also be returning to a messy house from the craziness of leaving for your vacation.
All of this can add up to ruining all the relaxation you experienced on your trip. Luckily, there are some simple things you can do before leaving for your trip to make the day you leave and the first day back so much easier!
2 weeks out:
Make a detailed list of everything you plan to pack. Plan the specific outfits. Not just “outfit for dinner” but “Black dinner dress, pearl necklace, black pumps.” Think about jewelry and any special garments you need to wear with it as well. You may also be responsible for packing for your children. I would start their lists now as well. Make sure this week that you wash any items you plan on packing as well.
During this week also think about any other responsibilities you need to take care of while you are gone. This may include boarding pets, having someone check the mail, getting coverage at work, etc. Also check to see if any bills you pay manually need to be paid during the time you will be out of town. No one wants to return from vacation and realize they have an overdue bill! Try to take care of all of these things during the two week out time period not the week leading up to vacation.
One week out:
Set aside all of the clothing items and any other item that won’t be used during the coming week to pack. You do not necessarily need to pack everything into suitcases yet, but set everything aside in one place so it is all together and will not be used.
Plan some easy meals for the first few nights you get back and maybe lunches as well. You may also want quick and easy meals leading up to your departure.
It can be extra hard to resist the temptation to run through a drive through the days after you get home, and after you just spent a lot on vacation, the last thing you need is to spend a lot on food runs due to exhaustion. Your waistline probably doesn’t need fast food or restaurant food after a trip either!
Take some time to plan ahead and give yourself some wiggle room, but also think of the time you will be gone and what kind of food you can keep. If you are taking a two week trip (or longer-lucky you), frozen or pantry item based meals may be a necessity.
- frozen meatballs,jar of marinara, and pasta for spaghetti, or frozen ravioli and a jar of marinara
- frozen preseasoned chicken and frozen veggies
- frozen fajita meat and frozen tortillas and a jar of salsa, etc.
- Crockpot Asian style meals with frozen stir fry vegetables and quick cook rice
- Crock pot soup or chili
- Frozen grilled chicken pieces, pasta, and a jar of pesto
If you are really organized you could plan some cook one freeze one meals in the month leading up! I won’t even pretend that this is something I do though.
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Three to four days out:
Do laundry so you have plenty of clean clothing when you return.
Clean out your refrigerator! Also make any last minute runs to the store now. Check prescriptions, gas in the cars, groceries, etc.
Have everyone spend 10-20 minutes tidying up the house.
Two days out:
Pack! Make a detailed list of everything that needs to be added to your suitcase the morning you leave. Things that you may need the night before or that morning to get ready- make up, shower items, deodorant, medications, etc. Also make a list of these or other items that need to be removed from your suitcase when you get home. Put this list somewhere it won’t get lost. I recommend the refrigerator.
Check into your flight, double check your hotel address and reservation, car rental, other tickets, etc.
Make a list of important addresses and reservation confirmation numbers and put it in your wallet.
Make sure you and everyone else you are travelling with have all the necessary tickets and paperwork for your travels. Depending on where you are traveling you may want to have cash on hand and even some extra tucked in your suitcase.
One day out:
Double check your packing list, documents, gas in the cars, and anything you have set up to take care of things at home while you are away.
Check the weather for your destination, your departure location, and check for any travel advisories.
Do another quick cleaning of your house. Take out the trash.
You may even want to set aside the work or school clothes you need if you return just one day before having to go back to the real world.
The day of:
Make your bed if you can. Even just the illusion of a clean and put together house can help when you are frazzled after traveling.
Check off your list of things to pack the day you leave. Do not forget chargers!
Be sure to take any necessary medications. Think about motion sickness as well.
Double check the locks around your house and consider lowering or raising the temperature on your thermostat. Turn all lights and unnecessary appliances and electronics off. If you have a security system remember to arm it and any timers for lights or your tv.
If you are cold natured as I am, grab a sweater or scarf for chilly flights or drives.
Now take a deep breath and go have fun!
The day you return:
Before you crash on the couch (just me?), get the dinner you planned ahead started and remove the items on your list of things you may need to use that day. Seriously, do these things before you sit down. Ask me how I know how important this is.
Take a hot shower to wash of the travel grime. Am I the only one who feels really dirty after travelling?
Take a few moments to reflect on the trip with those you traveled with to keep yourself in the relaxed vacation state.
And if you are anything like me, start dreaming of your next trip!