We want your holiday to matter, but we don’t want people to pretend it’s the only thing that matters to the point that they have a negative association with even the idea of going on vacation. No matter how good your vacation is, if you return home to find your life a mess and yourself even less equipped to handle it than before, you may not feel like you can go on vacation again any time soon.
Look, we also wrote an advice article about how you shouldn’t compromise on the length of your vacation. This is true, but it must also be measured in context. Some people think they want to spend three full weeks from home but then are looking forward to coming back after day 12 or 13 and then can’t wait to get home after day 15 or 16.
If you’re going on a “beach vacation” where you plan to do little more than sip cocktail drinks, read a book, and relax on the beach, the transition may be a little easier. If you also don’t leave some time to transition back to everyday life, you’re inevitably going to find yourself stressed out and taking weeks if not a month or more to catch up. If you go on a jam-packed vacation with a long itinerary a far-flung destination and a foreign language barrier, then you really may need at least a full day or two to recover back home before returning to the regular stressors of your weekly routine.
More than just leaving an extra day or two in the vacation schedule to recuperate, you want a tentative list or plan in place for any number of things that may need your immediate and not-so-immediate attention upon returning home. Here are some things people may overlook when it comes to making the transition back to everyday life.
Unpacking: This is the one thing that everybody knows is on the to-do list. It’s pretty much unavoidable. But how do you make yourself unpack after a trip? Pretty much everybody also underestimates how long unpacking will take. There’s laundry. There’s putting things away. There’s putting the luggage itself back into storage. The status of certain items may have changed. Individual travel bottles may need to be refilled or discarded, for example. Clothing items that you thought would serve you well may have been a disappointment so that you don’t even want to put the item back in your wardrobe.
Pet Recovery: Depending on the pet, this may mean picking them up at the kennel/pet care center. It may mean meeting and settling up with the pet-sitter. It may also just mean cleaning up the various messes that pets left as a welcome home gift and personal revenge for leaving them alone. It’s okay. They’ll be fine after a couple days of normal affection.
House Cleaning: You don’t have to have pets to return home to a house that’s dirtier than you like it. Last-minute travel plans frequently ruin the ability to clean the house to the level you like. If you have an extra day padded into the return schedule, maybe you can’t relax as much as you originally planned, but you won’t have the same dread over the house cleaning that inevitably has to get done at some point. With more AirBnb and vacation rental cleaning services entering the market, it’s getting increasingly easy to find a reliable service.
Reconnecting with Family Members: Maybe a child was at summer camp while you were traveling. Maybe a parent was in respite care. Maybe your children were with your parents. Whatever the case, if a member of the immediate family didn’t go on vacation
Preview Work Demands: One of the things we like to do is come back and plug ourselves in a day before telling our work that we’re going to be available. In other words, we take a day to review our Out of the Office email backlog and make ourselves aware of what awaits our first day back to work. We usually don’t make any effort to respond right away, especially since we’re still technically on vacation, but simply knowing what we’re walking into makes us feel less blind-sided. Indeed, this is pretty much the first step of these tips we found for catching up with email after vacation.
I am a lifelong explorer and travel enthusiast. I've never been a certified travel agent, but I have multiple family members who were. I'm not necessarily plugged in to the latest travel vendors and exclusive packages, and I've never cared for the label "life coach," but I do think I have some wisdom to offer about how people can get the most of your their vacation time.