You peel yourself off the back seat of the car and stagger up your driveway. You fumble to find your keys, while mumbling under your breath about your aches and pains, and bemoaning the fact that real life awaits just beyond your front door and at your job. You stumble through your house, disoriented. You trip over the books, magazines and newspapers you left scattered in your desperate rush out of the house. The stench from the stack of dishes in the kitchen sink and the dirty laundry and towels in the bathroom makes you nauseous. Is this how you want to return from your vacation? If not, there are things you can do to ensure that coming back home is as much a pleasure as going on vacation.
Before your leave
Spend your last pre-vacation days catching up on housework. After all, the last thing you need as you walk through the door after your vacation is a house in disarray. Make sure you have enough food in the house for the first few days when you return. This simple caution will pre-empt you from having to go grocery shopping right away. Make arrangements for someone to collect your mail. Mail piled up outside your front door, or bursting out of your mailbox is an indication that you are away, and an invitation to burglars.
Planning a vacation is tiring. However, you can avoid leaving home exhausted by not over-extending yourself at the office. Prioritise your duties to take care of only those things that cannot wait for your return. Delegate the rest or leave them in an organised manner. This will ensure a smooth re-entry when you resume your professional obligations and by getting enough sleep before you leave.
Weeks in advance, double check your travels documents and confirm your vacation details: currency, flight number, departure and arrival times, hotel reservations, pre-scheduled activities). At least one week before you leave, make a list of everything you will need to carry with you – everything from toiletries to medication, clothes to books, etc.
One way to make sure you travel with all that you will need is to imagine yourself engaging in your planned activities. Visualise the whole picture, what you’re wearing, carrying in your hand, etc. Don’t wait until the night before your trip to search for items on your list. Ransacking the house hours or minutes before you leave is not the way to start your vacation. Besides, you are likely to leave something important behind. The night before, you should only have to: lock your suitcase, place travel documents in your bag, lay out your travelling outfit, relax, and get enough sleep.
While on vacation
Vacation adventures are wonderful but think before you sign up for activities that stretch you so far beyond your comfort zone that they are likely to leave you with bad memories or mental, physical or emotional scars that may hamper how you live and work. Factor in dollops of R&R. Resist the temptation to be on the go all day, every day. Plan some down time and lazy days into your schedule.
When you return
Come home a day or two before you are expected back to work. This will allow you enough time to unpack, do laundry, refresh your home, catch up on mail, and bask in your vacation memories.
Vacation is not only the time you spend away from home. It includes the preparations you make to ensure that there is an easy transition back into your everyday life.
(Published in the Trinidad Guardian’s Womanwise Magazine August 4th 2013)