You’ve planned the trip. You prepped for weeks, packed, cleared out the fridge, ran the dishwasher and headed out the door for your vacation. Now you’re home and you’re tired and real life begins now. How do you help the transition from vacation to real life go as smoothly and simply as possible? I’m glad you asked. Here are the things I do before, during and after a trip to make things easier for myself when it’s all said and done.
1.Clean before you travel. I know this isn’t always easy and sometimes it just doesn’t go to plan but coming home to chaos and mess never feels good. Before every trip we gather up all the garbage in the house and take it out, load every dish into the dishwasher and run it, clear all surfaces and do a general tidy. I’m not scrubbing floors and baseboards the night before a 7am flight or anything but I do try to picture what I want to come home to and work until it’s done. If we’re ever gone for more than 2.5 weeks, I have cleaning ladies come a day or two before we arrive home. The thought of coming home to dusty surfaces or the things I couldn’t get to before that 7am flight is always discouraging and walking in to your house even better than you left it is such a treat. My sister unlocks the door beforehand and locks up after-it’s my favorite routine of all.
2. Plan your travel day meal. Before kids we often just grabbed take-out after a trip and called it a day since we spent more time traveling than we did at home. These days, I love the idea of coming back from a trip and actually sitting together with a meal that feels like home. Sometimes it’s a box of gluten and dairy free macaroni and some defrosted peas for the kids, sometimes it’s chickpea pasta spaghetti with homemade sauce from the freezer or grilled cheese and tomato basil soup. It’s never fancy, never takes more than 10 minutes but I do always want it to be warm and tasty. (Although we arrived home from the lake house at 6pm a couple weeks ago and after a long afternoon of endless snacking for the kids, I decided a green smoothie would be the best welcome home dinner for them that day. Warm is not a requirement, I suppose.)
3. Prepare your fridge and pantry beforehand. Will you be gone for less than two weeks? Grab some eggs, whatever milk your family prefers and some sparkling water for your fridge. Put your bread or bagels in the freezer along with ingredients for a smoothie in the morning to help you reset and maybe some peas just incase you need veggies in a pinch. In your pantry, be sure to have a pasta and cereal you look forward to so you if you don’t make it to the grocery store the day after traveling for whatever reason, you’re still good to go and not just surviving but thriving.
4. Ship groceries if you can. Not everyone eats the same diet as us but grocery runs aren’t quite as simple as they used to be. If you haven’t heard of Thrive Market before, it’s like Costco and Whole Foods had a baby and it’s such a gift to us as a family who has different food requirements ranging from vegan to paleo. I tend to time up my order to have it arrive a day or so after we get home which means I’m saving money and time. I cannot recommend it enough! Shoutout to the super clean turkey jerky that the kids and I are newly obsessed with and the only cereal I eat as someone who eats zero grains and refined sugars. Here are the other items that make it into just about every order (a.k.a the items that will be on my doorstep today!)
5. Make unpacking as simple as possible. The majority of the time, O loves to do the unpacking. Every now and then he’ll be gone or have too full of a schedule and I just can’t look at the suitcases for another minute so I take on the job but for the most part, I’m the master packer and he’s the master unpacker. When we’re leaving a trip we’re sure to completely separate clean and dirty clothes into different sections of the suitcase of different suitcases altogether. That way, when we get home there is no sorting to be done. We almost always turn on a show or podcast to go through the rest of the clothes and put them into piles: Keogena’s room, Oshiolema’s room, O’s section of the closet or my section of the closet. Toiletries immediately get put where they belong and the “food bag” is unpacked right away. This removes all temptation for travel-day food to just sit forever until you smell them. Yikes. Few things feel better than the last suitcase-the final evidence of the trip-being zipped up and put back into storage. Congratulations, you’re ready to settle back in to regular life.