After about 2 weeks away I’m quite content to end the journey and go home. I miss my bed, I miss my cat, I miss not living out of a suitcase, and I miss the ability to sit down and just read a book without anyone trying to talk to me. Okay, that last one I can do when I travel alone, but my recent trip left very little alone time.
When I arrived home I realized that I had made a mistake… Immediately I wanted to turn around and head back to those glorious hotels that did the washing up and cleaning for me. I wanted restaurants where someone else prepared the meals and did the dishes. I wanted to walk into a room and bask in its lack of clutter and freshly made beds.
See, before I left I had been very busy. Job #1 was hectic, Job #2 was hectic, preparing for the trip was chaotic… you get the idea. So I didn’t clean before I left. My hopes of returning to a relaxing life were dashed when I realized that there were still dishes to do, that I hadn’t cleaned out the fridge properly, and that the floor desperately needed sweeping. Thank goodness I’d re-organized the bathroom a couple weeks before the trip or that would have been a disaster as well.
So here’s a list of things that I think I should do before leaving on a trip (the list is very biased – it is my own, after all – but if anything makes sense to you go for it):
- Clean up the house. It might be annoying now, but it will be so refreshing to come back from a long vacation and realize that you don’t have to do housework. Do ALL the dishes, sweep the floors, tidy up – every little bit helps. It also means that anyone looking after your place won’t think you’re a mess (although you suspect that deep down they already know the truth).
- Have enough non-perishable ingredients for at least 3 meals in your cupboard/freezer. It’s very likely that your vacation will consist of eating ice cream and/or chocolate for dinner (especially if you’re travelling with my sister), so you’ll want to come home to actual food. Due to the length of your trip, you’ll have (hopefully) removed all perishables from the fridge (if not, watch out!). If you’re lucky enough to live next to a grocery store then that’s great! But if you’re like me and you live in a vegetable dead-zone, then the last thing you want to do after travelling for 18 hours is hike to the grocery store and back. So purchase crackers for your peanut butter or other items that can be used to make a somewhat healthy meal. And remember; the easier it is to cook, the better.
- Plan time to decompress. Don’t plan anything for immediately after you get back. Even if you’re someone who doesn’t suffer from jet-lag or vacation-lag, give yourself a day or two to get back to your normal, un-vacation-y life. That way if you get a bad night’s sleep and your stomach doesn’t feel the best, you have time to take care of yourself. And if you have those days planned, don’t read your emails and think ‘well, one meeting won’t hurt’, because that one meeting will turn into two, then into three, then your whole weekend’s shot.
Bonus tip of something you should do when you get back from your trip!
- Unpack everything. As soon as you get back, unpack everything. Don’t half-start on your suitcase and leave everything lying around for weeks on end – unpack the entire thing. Sort the clean clothes from the not-so-clean and the oh-dear-gods-burn-it clothes. Sort the souvenirs and remember which person each one is for; put the chocolate and marzipan and nougat and Jelly Babies away (or you will eat them all and make yourself sick); and throw away that stuff you thought might be fun to hold onto but is really just more clutter for your already-cluttered apartment.