Five tips for smooth sailing when coming home from a summer holiday

by Maria Connor

The reason people go on vacation is to escape the demands and drudgery of everyday life.  They scrimp and save all year in order to afford a tropical cruise, take the kids to visit Mickey Mouse at Disney World or travel to a foreign country they’ve dreamed about visiting.

People work hard for their break from reality.  They go into work sick so their vacation time isn’t docked.  They forego new clothes or dining out. With all that effort, it’s a shame that coming home can take the bloom off that vacation rose.

Have you been there?  It’s close to midnight and the flight was late/delayed/overbooked.  You have to be in to work by eight the next morning, the kids have school and there isn’t so much as a shriveled apple in the fridge.  In the frantic rush to get back to your routine, the suitcases remain parked in the front hall for a week, and the kids begin recycling their socks.  And you’re already behind on saving for the next vacation because you’ve spent $75 on carry-out this week.

Planning for your homecoming should be given as much consideration as your tour of Yosemite.  With a bit of forethought and a little organization, you can remain relaxed, refreshed and reinvigorated.

Just one more day. Allow at least one day to transition from vacation mode to work mode, recommends Sharon Hayward, owner of The Organized Advantage in La Mesa. Come home a day early or tack an extra day onto your vacation.  This provides time to go through the mail, restock the kitchen, catch up on laundry and read your email.

Thanks, neighbor! Leave a house key with a trusted neighbor.  Ask them to pick up bread and milk the day before you return home so there’s something edible in the house until you can go grocery shopping.

Easy unpacking. Organizational expert Kathi Burns of AddSpace to Your Life! in Leucadia suggests packing a few plastic grocery bags.  When preparing to head home, put the dirty laundry in the plastic sacks so it can be sorted right into the laundry room when you get back.  Burns says it also helps to empty your luggage immediately. Things are more likely to get put away if they aren’t hidden out of sight in the Samsonite.

Leave it like you want to find it. Preparing for vacation requires a lot of energy and effort, but allow time to make sure your house is in order before you leave  Empty the refrigerator of any foods that might spoil.  Take out the trash.  Change the bed linens.  Run the vacuum.  Leaving your house neat and tidy is critical, Burns says.  Coming home can be a letdown after the glamor and regular maid service of most hotels, so make your welcome as comfortable and welcoming as possible.

Odds and ends. Here are a few random tips to consider.

*Freeze a couple of casseroles before you start your vacation.  Dinner will be a cinch until you’re back in the groove.

*Consider traveling Wednesday to Tuesday or returning midweek.  Coming home to a three-day work week is infinitely easier than facing five long days.

*Leave an outfit or two in the closet so you’ll have something clean to wear.  Same goes for underwear, socks and linens.

*Avoid catastrophes.  We live in an area vulnerable to earthquakes, Hayward says, so take a few minutes to shut off the water main and unplug appliances and computers.

Maria Connor is a freelance writer and mother of four in San Diego.  She says there’s no such thing as a vacation for mothers; it’s just doing the same thing is a more exotic location.

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