There’s nothing quite like the excitement that comes with taking a summer vacation.
You plan for weeks, maybe even months, and then set off fully prepped and packed, eager for both the adventure and the chance to escape the stress of your everyday life. No matter how much fun the trip may be, though, it eventually comes to an end, and that means you have to return to reality—and, even worse, unpack.
While coming home, unloading, and putting away your belongings are all unavoidable, you don’t have to dread the postvacation organization process. Instead, look at it as a way to help you ease back into your routine. Make sure you follow these steps to get readjusted sooner rather than later.
Tidy your home
Before you even unpack your car, take a walk through your home and check to see how messy or neat it is. If you didn’t have the chance before departing to wipe down your kitchen counters, put away laundry, or remove clutter from your dresser, this is your opportunity to clean those areas so you don’t compound the problem by adding your vacation items. You may not want to take on a full-house cleaning right after traveling, but tidying up high-traffic areas or spaces you know you’ll be using in the unpacking process will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed or stressed by everything you need to do.
Unpack right away
While it may be tempting to toss your suitcases and bags into your bedroom and come back to them later, doing so will just make it more likely that they’ll sit there untouched for days or weeks after your trip. Instead of letting them become fixtures in your room that you have to work around, take the time to unpack any suitcases and bags immediately after bringing them inside. Remove all your items, and put them where they belong: in your closet, drawers, laundry basket, bathroom, or kitchen. That way, you don’t end up living out of your travel bags and feeling frustrated when you’re forced to go digging through each one to find an item you really need. And once your travel bags are empty, you can get them out of your way and back into storage ready for your next trip.
After you unpack your things, go ahead and do some laundry. A dirty swimsuit, cover-up, or beach towel that sits in your hamper will get musty quickly, so gather these and any other used items—such as clothes you wore on vacation that you may need in the coming week—and toss them in the washing machine. Just be sure that you don’t let your clean things sit in the dryer for too long. Get them folded and put away immediately after each load is done.
Sort through mail and packages
Depending on how long you’ve been away, you may come back home to a large stack of mail or packages that were delivered while you were gone. You’ll want to sort through them soon after returning home, tossing junk mail and immediately opening any important letters or bills. Make note of anything that requires a response or action so you don’t accidentally pay something late or miss an important deadline.
Prep for the coming week
Any time you return from a trip, you’re typically thrown headfirst into your job, school, or parenting routine. If you didn’t take an extra day or two off to help you ease into it, you’ll need to quickly prep for the week ahead. Go through what you have in your fridge, and decide if you need to make a grocery run. Consider ordering ahead for pickup or delivery to save yourself some time and energy. You can use those extra minutes to prep what you need for work, perhaps by laying out an outfit, packing your lunch, and gathering any necessary papers or equipment. And if you have kids, check their schedules for the coming days. Especially with a new school year on the horizon, it’s important to make sure they have everything they need and are ready to go.
Returning home after a summer vacation doesn’t have to be a challenge. It may seem like a lot to tackle at first, but the transition will end up being much easier when you don’t let everything pile up and instead take the steps to organize and clean soon after you get home.