text that reads organizing before your vacation

How to Have a Better Vacation

Even though a vacation is supposed to help us recharge somehow the preparations always seems stressful. All the time and energy put into planning a vacation gets you to your destination; however, what happens when you return? That vacation feeling somehow washes away as soon as you set your bags down.

Relax, we’ve got you covered.  We are going to set you up for a clean getaway and smooth re-entry at home and at work. It’s an essential part of the planning process, plus we’ve got a free download for you below. We want to ensure you set off to your destination without any troubles, but also plan for a smooth re-entry to extend the good vacation feelings as long as possible.


The goal is to do some prep before you leave your home so that your return is somewhat pleasant. If you are like me, re-acclimating is a big challenge, because no vacation is ever quite long enough.

  • The week before you go away plan to “eat your refrigerator”, according to Mom Sicalides, it means eating all of your perishables. If you don’t want to do that, share the perishables with a friend, neighbor, housekeeper, pet sitter, anyone who may appreciate them. Coming back to a nasty, smelly refrigerator, not a great way to re-enter.
  • Have that same friend or neighbor restock your fridge with a few basics like creamer for your morning coffee, milk for cereal, etc. Do not expect them to resupply you, just a couple of basics will make a huge difference. You can reciprocate when they go away. What a nice treat for both of you. Or you can schedule a delivery for your first day home. Instacart is great for this.
  • Empty all trashcans and recyclables, you don’t want to leave trash in your house while you are away. Your house will feel so much cleaner.
  • Do take a few minutes to pick up your house the day before you go, it’s much more pleasant to come home to a picked up house.
  • Start thinking about your packing list at least 3-4 weeks in advance. If you need to shop or purchase anything ahead of time, you want to make sure you plan ahead. Enjoy one of our international packing lists we created for a client. You can download it here.
  • Leave your dishwasher and washer doors ajar, as the seals on new appliances are so tight that your appliances may begin to smell if they have been closed for a period of time. I try to run and unload the dishwasher before I go away, that way dirty dishes do not sit in it while I am off enjoying myself.
  • Also, make sure that the water valve to your washer is turned off before you leave (they break and leak ONLY when you are away). This is definitely not a situation you want to come home to after a nice vacation, late at night, when you have to be at a meeting in New York City the next morning.
  • When my family comes back from vacation, luggage is opened so that the dirty laundry goes right to the laundry room. None of that dirty stuff goes to the bedrooms.
  • There is nothing worse than coming home to a mountain of mail. Plan your mail delivery. When holding your mail, you can either schedule it to be picked up or request delivery through USPS online.  Also, remember to limit any last minute Amazon orders until after your trip.


For work, vacation planning should start two weeks before your departure. That planning should take the form of notes, having times set up to meet with anyone that you need to before you leave, Try to leave the final day to tie up loose ends. Leave work at work by taking care of as many projects before you leave as possible.

  • Clear your desk…literally. Block out prep time in your calendar when you block out your vacation. This time should be used to delegate tasks, make appointments, and return phone calls or emails all in preparation for your out of office time. Get everything that needs to be done before your trip so you can relax.
  • Leave written instructions for team members or staff so that anything that may happen in your absence gives instructions on how to handle.
  • Draw a clear boundary of what is a true emergency for staff and co-workers. The last thing you want to be doing on vacation is responding to email.
  • Pull the Plug: Your social following can live without you while you are on vacation.  Tune into what is going on around you and be in the moment as you experience all the things you planned.  Everyone needs a break. If you can’t disconnect completely, then just set limits on how much time you will spend on social media.
  • Upon your return: Clear your desk again. This time, go through all emails, phone calls, and messages and delete anything that no longer requires your attention. Make a list of everything you have to do and prioritize it with completion dates.
  • If you can schedule your first day to be a quiet or buffer day, that is ideal. Set yourself up so you can review what went on during the week, have time to meet with your staff and catch up on emails.

Rest, relax, re-energize. Bon voyage!

This article was originally published in the Radnor Patch, July 11th, 2011.