Travel Hacks: Preparing For Your Return, BEFORE You Leave on Vacation

Part of traveling is returning home. It’s the harsh reality that eventually we have to get back to…reality. Americans especially, get less vacation time, compared to other countries, so maximizing time on vacation is often the priority. And that means less time to get re-settled, upon the return.

You and/or your significant other, might have to get to work the next day. Your kids might have school etc. We live in a world where most people lead busy, fast paced lives so there’s not a lot of room for error.

Whatever the circumstances are, it’s useful to think through your return, before you leave, and to do at least some prep before you leave. When you return, and you’re jet lagged, and tired, and wishing you were still on holiday, and you start thinking through the next day, you’ll be so relieved when you can say to yourself, “that’s already taken care of!”.

{Pre-Departure, Post Vacation Preparation:}

  • Safety tips
  • Having food at home when you get back
  • Having the post office hold onto your mail and setting up your “Away” messages in Gmail
  • Having everything you need for laundry
  • Being already ready for work/school/events after you get back

{Safety Tips}

Unplug the appliances in your home before you leave, especially on extended trips.

Send your itinerary and copies of important documents (passport, driver’s license, marriage certificate etc.) to a trusted family member or friend who is NOT traveling with you, just in case something happens and you need help while you’re away.

#TravelHack: Create a Google Drive and post all of the documents in there. That way you can access them, share them and you do this once and you’ve got it for all of your future trips too!

Always carry an extra passport size photo. When I was backpacking in Europe, a woman that I met lost her passport. She had to get an emergency one made — in Europe. Having an extra passport photo already ready to go, made that whole bad experience, a lot easier.


That feeling – your 15 hour flight arrived late at night, you’re starving, and you’ve never loved your own bed as much as you do in that moment. This is the make or break. The difference between hangry and patting yourself on the back for stocking the kitchen before you left.

Milk – unopened almond milk and soy milk stay in the refrigerator for a few weeks. You’ll be SO glad you have this in your fridge when you get home.

Cereal – If nothing else, you can always get by with cereal.

Lentils – make kichadi. Most people tray from their diet while on holiday and try to get back to it upon their return. And a “kichadi cleanse” is a perfect and easy way to start! Lentils can be stored for months! Google “kichadi cleanse” to learn more!

Some freezer food is always good to have on hand too to hold you over until you can get to the grocery store or place an order on Instacart or Amazon Fresh. You can get tasty and healthier things at Trader Joe’s such as Vegetable Masala Burgers.

Granola, pasta, dried fruit, and snacky food that stores well.

Don’t forget to take the trash out before you leave! You don’t want to return to a foul smelling home!

{Packages, Mail, and Email While You’re Gone}

Packages. Expecting some packages to arrive while you’re gone? Have your neighbor pick them up for you. You don’t want to tip off the whole world that you’re not home. And bring back a thank you gift!

Hold Mail Service: USPS. If you’re going to be gone for a really long time, like longer than two weeks or you get a lot of mail, then you might inform the US Postal Service that you’ll be gone and they can hold your mail for you to pick up when you get back. This service is called Hold Mail and it’s really easy to setup. They can hold your mail from 3  to 30 days. Anything longer than 30 days, you have to use their Mail Forwarding Service. You simply enter your address and the dates and you can either pick up your accumulated mail or request to have the mail carrier deliver it to you.

ProTip: The End Date, is the date that you want them to resume service – deliver your mail to you.

Set up Your Out of Office/Away Message. If you’re going to be in a place with limited internet access or simply don’t intend to check/respond to emails while you’re away, you can setup an out of office/away message within minutes in your Gmail accounts. Simply follow these super simple instructions.


You’ll probably have a ton of laundry when you get back. And being ready to do it will make the difference between unpacking and getting re-settled in vs. not.

Make sure you’ve stocked up on all this before you go. Otherwise your luggage and stuff could be sitting around for longer because you’ll say to yourself, “I’ll get to it when I have time”.

  • Laundry detergent
  • Quarters (if you live in an apartment complex or use a laundromat)
  • Dryer sheets
  • Garment bags for washing delicates
  • Anything else like Dryel or bag to drop off clothes to the drycleaner


Documents You’ll Need in Storage. On one of my recent trips, I had jury duty like 2 days after my return. So I made sure I had all the paperwork safely stored AND that I remembered where I put it. I actually put reminders on the calendar in my phone, about the paperwork and when to report in.

Pre-packed and ready to go Docs + Reminders. If you have work or school documents that you’ll need right after you get back, just put them in your briefcase/backpack BEFORE you leave. And if you have to do anything with them when you get back i.e. sign something or email someone something, put a sticky on top of your briefcase/backpack that reminds you to do whatever you’re supposed to do.

Work Presentation or work trip. Do you have a presentation for work the day after you return? Have the presentation already setup on your laptop, email it to yourself as well as the office admin. Or perhaps you’re leaving for a work trip, the next day? And you’ve already packed for that trip, and it’s just a matter of packing your toiletries and a few last minute items.

Help yourself out with sticky notes ON TOP of your briefcase/school bag to remind you of action items when you return from vacation.

{Clothes You’ll Need The Next Day}

Get your power suit ready! Speaking of presentation at work, have your outfit(s) ready before you leave. Whether for work, an event, school etc. And if you think you might have gained a few pounds while you were gone or may be sunburned, not a bad idea to set out a couple of options so you don’t have to think about it too much when you get back.


Part of going on vacation is coming back and getting back into the swing of work, school etc. You can enjoy the whole experience more with preparation. Preparation – not just for the trip itself but for things you’ll need when you return.

In this article I addressed: food, documents, mail, packages and email, and clothes and some easy, practical tips that you can take care of before you leave on vacation, that will make your life a lot easier when you get back from holiday.

Have a brilliant time on your next holiday! Keep exploring and racking up the stamps in your Passport Pages!



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