Have you ever come back from a vacation feeling like you needed a vacation? Or entered your house with a sense of dread after a trip? Or arrived at your vacation destination more stressed out than when you left home? These things are avoidable. Whether you’re going on vacation to do nothing, or you’re the kind of traveler who arrives with a military-grade itinerary, there are a few things you should do before you leave home to maximize your enjoyment of the trip before, during and after it happens. Here’s what to do.
Put fresh sheets on the bed
If you had the kind of trip that made you never want to come home, you’ll feel better about your return to normality if it involves soft, clean sheets. It’s like arriving to a hotel, but no one will make you check out at a particular time. By the same token, make sure your house if clean and tidy before you leave: once you get home from the hotel, “housekeeping” is you, so it’s best if you can put off cleaning for a few days once you’re back.
Buy breakfast foods or at least coffee
The only thing worse than waking up jetlagged and hungry is waking up jetlagged and hungry in a house with no food. If you’re going on a short trip, stock your fridge with breakfast foods for your return. If it’s a longer holiday, put some easily defrostable provisions in the freezer, and make sure you have coffee. Also, go through the fridge and freeze or toss out anything that will take on a life of its own while you’re gone. “What’s that smell?” should not be anyone’s first words after a vacation.
Put gas in your car
Did you fail to buy breakfast foods? At least you can drive to a diner. And if you’re going to arrive at work with an envy-inducing tan, you should probably be on time.
Deal with your emails
Don’t “save it for the plane.” Planes are for watching movies, sleeping and entering into a vacation state of mind, none of which can be accomplished if you’re trying to balance a laptop on a retractable table while marveling at the slowness of inflight Wi-Fi.
Research where you’re going and make some plans
Don’t spend your trip on your phone, figuring out what places to see: spend it looking at those places. Obviously, you’ll make various choices once you’ve arrived, but you’ll be a more engaged traveler if you’ve already got some idea of what you want to do; you’ll also be a less cranky traveler if you have some ideas about where to eat. Just because you can use the internet everywhere, doesn’t mean you should.
Check your credit cards for foreign transaction fees
Foreign transaction fees can add up over the course of a trip, so it’s best to avoid them if you can. Also, if you don’t travel often, it’s worth letting your credit card companies know where you’ll be. If your big purchases are usually at Whole Foods Market© in Chicago, a large restaurant bill in Morocco may lead to a frozen credit card.
Ask for an early check-in
Your hotel or Airbnb© may say no, but it doesn’t take much to ask. Arriving after a long flight and being able to unpack or take a quick nap is a great start to a trip. If an early check-in isn’t possible, consider putting a change of clothes in your hand luggage, so you don’t have to rummage through your suitcase in the hotel lobby.
Take pictures of your passport and email them to yourself
Because sometimes bad things happen to good people. (Did we mention that we’re a life insurance agency?)
And finally … don’t do any of this the night before you leave
Travel can wear you out, even though it often involves a lot of sitting, so if you’ve been up until midnight the night before cleaning the stove, you’ll feel like you need a holiday before it’s even started. If you arrive at the airport rested, you’re already halfway to where you want to be, however far away it is.
Michael Davis is a freelance writer and editor who has covered everything from fashion and music to parenting, work, and finance. He has been a chef, restaurateur and record label owner. Opinions are his own. Sponsored by Haven Life Insurance Agency.
Whole Foods Market is a copyright of Whole Foods Market IP. L.P.
Airbnb is a copyright of Airbnb, Inc.