There’s an art to to re-entering real life after your vacation. Let’s focus on how to get back on track with life after you’ve gotten back home from your latest trip.
I divide trip planning into pre-trip, during the trip, and post-trip. Before you leave home is the best time to set some things into place for getting back on track. Post-vacation re-entry can be smooth with some pre-planning and a post-trip to-do list already in place.
Before you go, plan for your housekeeper (or hire one especially for this one time) to clean your house while you’re away. Don’t come back to dust. Set up a list for the housekeeper or cleaning service.
- Vacuum and dust about 3 days before you arrive home.
- Do any laundry that you left in the clothes hamper (you’ll have enough to do once you get home).
- Water plants while you are away.
- Watch your front porch for packages.
- Wipe down the inside of your refrigerator and throw out any spoiled food you forgot to ditch pre-vacation.
If you have the post office hold your mail (they will do this for up to 30 days) schedule your mail to be delivered the morning of the day you arrive home, or the day before. It will be ready for you to sit down and sort without waiting for it for a few days. This is especially important if you have been gone 3 or 4 weeks and have a few bills that will be coming up for payment. (Tip: Pre-trip – pay bills ahead of time so that no late charges accrue to you while you are away.)
- After you return home, sit down with a large garbage can. Sort bills and important mail into one stack, magazines into a second stack, and throw into the garbage can anything else.
- Block out a few hours your second day home to go through all bills and important mail, pay or handle, and file away.
If you’ve been away for a week or more, schedule 2 full days of getting back on track with no work or other appointments. Extend your vacation by these two days. This prevents you having to go to work jet-lagged and with dirty clothes in still-packed suitcases. If you don’t do this, you ruin the relaxation you experienced on vacation. Get back on track with life gently. If you over schedule those first few days back you’ll be running to get back to normal for a few weeks. Avoid the press of feeling like you have to do a thousand things, as it can paralyze you and make you feel like you don’t know what to handle first.
Go to bed at your normal time if you can (if you’ve already been up for 18 to 24 hours, go to bed when you arrive home) and try your best to get at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep. This will help your body overcome jet lag. You will adjust about 2 time zones in a day, so if you were in a time zone 6 or 7 hours different from home, it’ll take more than one day for your body to adjust.
Before you leave home, freeze a couple of protein-rich meals, or decide that you’ll go out to eat for the first few days you are home. Drink a lot of water with your protein and avoid sugar or high sodium foods. This will help you feel better and will also help your body to adjust back to its normal rhythms. Long trips home can cause fatigue, swelling, and constipation so you want to avoid all of that by treating yourself well and resting.
The Get Back on Track With Life Re-Entry Plan
Here’s how to get back on track after your vacation. Divide your plan into 6 parts, and tackle one at a time.
1) Nutrition and rest – I suggest that you don’t schedule anything outside the home for 48 hours after a trip.
- Deliberately leave time to sleep for 8 to 10 hours the first few days back.
- Make sure to drink 8 glasses or more of water.
- Stay away from sweets.
- Eat high protein foods.
- Take a nap if you need to let your body adjust to major time zone differences.
2) Unpacking, sorting, doing laundry, cleaning everything used on the trip, and putting things away. This usually takes about a week working on it a little at a time. You’re wanting to have everything in order and ready for your next trip.
3) Shopping for groceries (Create the shopping list before you leave town, and keep it on your smartphone.)
4) Look over the house (hot tub, pool, yard, house plants). Give your housekeeper or friend a list of things to check on while you are away, but check things over when you return. Return outdoor furniture to your outdoor spaces if you had to store it while you were away.
5) Mail (snail) – Have the post office deliver your held mail to your home the morning of your return, or the day before. Sit with a large garbage bag and sort into 3 piles – pitch, important letters and bills, and magazines. Set aside time the next day to handle all important mail. (We handle e-mails while we are away, so they don’t pile up.)
6) Photos – Schedule time to save your photos in the cloud or on a detached hard drive. Categorize them, ditch the bad ones, edit the good ones. Otherwise they sit on your hard drive forever and you never enjoy them. Take the time to share your top 2 photos to a few friends using social media or email. Share your stories.
There’s a lot more to re-entry than walking into the house and thinking “we’re home, we’re done.” Post-trip planning is just as important as pre-trip planning. Set aside the time, and keep to your post-trip plan. You’ll be rested, relaxed, and back on track with life without feeling overwhelmed or disorganized.
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