Oh, how you're looking forward to that blissful stay at the beach with the kids, or that weekend business conference that will mix sightseeing with seminars! What you're not looking forward to is the blinking red eye of your answering machine, the pile of mail, the empty fridge, and the oh-so-familiar feeling of letdown that awaits you on return. Let stress-management counselor Julie Lee give you some preplanning tips to help you off-set the funk that follows the fun. Put them into practice, and you'll find reentry from a getaway much easier!
Set a Date
Clear your desk as best as you can before you leave, and create a priority list of projects to tackle when you return. This gives you direction and answers the question, "What should I do first?" as you try to play catch-up at home or at the office. Don't forget to schedule something fun on your to-do list—an outdoor concert, a barbecue with friends—so you'll have something to look forward to when the post-vacation blahs hit.
Stock the Fridge
Try this mental exercise: Fast forward to the end of your vacation, when you unlock your front door. The scene you'll encounter sets the tone for the next several days. If your home's in good order, your transition will be easier. A few suggestions before you leave: Stock the fridge with the essentials for two days' worth of meals so you won't have to dash to the grocery store; buy a book you've been eager to read and place it on your nightstand as a "welcome home" gift to yourself; arrange fresh towels and bubble bath by the tub. Just add water.
Stop the Presses
Two post-vacation tasks guaranteed to give you the blues involve information overload: the answering machine and the stack of local newspapers that arrived in your absence. Cut down on phone messages by alerting frequent callers of your travel dates. And eliminate the clutter of last week's headlines by canceling delivery of the newspaper for the days you're gone.
Make a List
As your holiday winds down, use your time on the plane or in the car to compile a list of those aspects of "home" you most love and appreciate. If you're traveling with children, this can lead to interesting conversation. Concentrate on the simple pleasures you've missed while you've been away: working in your garden, having coffee with a friend, teaching Sunday school, babysitting for a neighbor's toddler. By reminding yourself of these routine but pleasurable activities, you'll heighten your anticipation of homecoming.
Take it Easy
Arrange to return from your vacation on Friday so you have the weekend to regroup.
Bridge the Gap
Use props to help make a smooth transition from vacation to home. Arrange your snapshots in an album and tuck in tickets, itineraries, airline tags, and other mementos. Visualize where you've been by looking at postcards, reading your journal, and recapping the experience for someone who's truly interested.
Put it in Perspective
Remember, renewal is only one benefit of a vacation. Time away from home promises refreshment, but it also guarantees change. You come back as a slightly different person because of the sights you've seen, the people you've met, the conversations you've had, the ideas you've encountered. Rather than mourn the end of a mountaintop experience, celebrate the "new and improved" you!
Holly G. Miller is a travel editor for The Saturday Evening Post and teaches journalism at Anderson (Indiana) University.
© 1999 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.