Labor Day weekend is a popular travel time here in the U.S., with millions hitting the roads, rails, and skies for one final summer trip before settling down to a return to school and work in the fall. If you're taking off this weekend, a few simple steps before you leave and after you come home can help make your post-vacation time much less stressful. Staying close to home for now? File these tips away for your next trip.
Before You Leave
Getting things under control at work and at home prior to your departure means you'll be much less likely to return to chaos after your trip. Here's what to do before you leave.
- Tie up as many loose ends as possible. Aim to finish as many of your current tasks at work as you can so that you'll be better able to disconnect and enjoy your time away and won't return to an out-of-control task list. At home, knock off tasks like returning library books, picking up dry cleaning, and returning essential phone calls.
- Do a quick round of tidying. Coming back to a messy, disorganized home or office is a great way to kill your post-vacation buzz and replace it with a heap of stress. You don't need to deep-clean before you take off, but doing simple things like straightening up your desk, washing and putting away dishes, and making your bed will let you return to an environment that's neat and under control.
- Plan for what'll happen while you're away. If you'll be gone for more than a few days, it's a good idea to enlist help with tasks that need to be done in your absence. Have a trusted neighbor pick up your mail and water your plants, for example. Planning to be away for a few weeks? Consider having someone take care of your yard work, clean the house, and perhaps even stock the fridge right before you return. The less you have to deal with on your return, the easier it'll be to slip back into your routines.
Ease yourself back into real life, and prevent disorganization from becoming a post-vacation headache, by taking these steps when you return.
- Plan time to reacclimate. If at all possible, structure your trip and your post-travel schedule to allow for a day to unpack, run errands, and generally adjust to being out of vacation mode. Trying to jump right back into work or school the day after you return can make you stressed and inefficient. Can't spare a whole day? Give yourself at least a few hours early on the day after you get back to readjust.
- Unpack ASAP. Letting a half-empty suitcase (especially one with laundry that needs to be done) linger for more than a day after your return will very likely make you feel out of control. Set a timer for 20 minutes and dedicate that time to unpacking. Put away anything that's clean, toss washables into the hamper, stash toiletries and other travel gear, and then put your suitcase away so it doesn't crowd up your bedroom or living area.
- Deal with the mail. Finally, take a few minutes to sort through the mail that accumulated while you were away. If you have time to open and process all of it, great. If not, simply aim to weed out and shred or recycle the junk, and then schedule time within a week to take a closer look at everything else.