Vacation Recovery

Summer time means vacations…

And vacations mean coming back home…and getting caught back up on what happened while you were away.

And while we might dread the catching up part of vacation, with a little bit of organization it can be a piece of cake. Over the years, I have developed a personal checklist I call “Vacation Recovery.” It breaks down the things I need to do into simple steps, eliminates guesswork, and frees me from post-vacation tasks that can hang over your head for weeks.

The key to catching back up quickly is to leverage these two strategic times at the end of a vacation…

Traveling Home

Because there is so much that competes for my attention once I get home, I often spend the last few hours on an airplane or in the car working out the logistics of what I need to do to get caught up:

  1. Plug back into the calendar. What is coming up? Any appointments or deadlines? Is there any planning you can start now? This is a great time make lists, send emails or texts if possible, and beginning making arrangements for carpools, errands, etc.
  2. Catch up on communication. Travel time is also a great time to check emails, texts, and other communication. This also usually contributes to the to-do lists and action items generated from consulting my calendar.
  3. Plan your menu. I am redundant with this tip, I know. You’ll find it in almost every organizing post and program I share. But the repetition emphasizes its importance. Living your best life and being your best self requires a body that feels good and energetic. The way we eat has a high impact on how we feel, and if we are going to eat healthy foods, we have to plan for it. The convenient options are unfortunately usually unhealthy. So you know the drill: consult your calendar for the upcoming week and at the very least plan for dinners each night that accommodate your schedule.
  4. While you’re at it, make your grocery list. That way, when you come home to an empty fridge and need to make a run for the basics, you’ll have a list ready and can get stocked up for the upcoming week.
  5. If possible, order your groceries online. When I’m really on top of it, I will order my groceries as I travel and pick them up on the way home. While I’m unpacking I can also unpack groceries – the “killing two birds with one stone” idea.

Immediately Upon Arriving at Home

I have worked hard to create the mindset (within myself and my family) that the vacation isn’t over the moment we get home. The unpacking is the last piece of the vacation, and we strive to close that chapter completely upon our return. Here is a short list of what we do to cut the remaining loose ends of a vacation:

  1. Unpack the car (if it was a road trip.) Not just your duffle bags, but all shoes, sunglasses, snacks, wrappers and empty cups floating around as well.
  2. Unpack the bags. Don’t just drop the bags when you walk in the door. Take it a step further and completely unpack. It takes a teeny bit of discipline but it’s so worth it to not have those bags haunting you for the next several days or weeks!
  3. Start the laundry. Can you take one more tiny step? As you empty the bags, sort the laundry and get it started. (Note that if you are staying somewhere with a washer/dryer, you can wash everything on the last day of your vacation so you can come home and put all clean clothes away. Another option is to just sort dirty laundry into a bag, so it’s easy to get the laundry started once you get home.)
  4. Clean the car (if it was a road trip.) My kids know that once they have unloaded the car, someone gets to vaccuum the car and someone else gets to wipe down the seats and dashboard. They don’t love it, but it’s part of the routine! This is a huge priority for me, because I don’t want to climb into the car in the following days and have another post-vacation chore on my list.
  5. Collect the mail, pick up the pets, etc. Again, it’s just nice to wrap it all up. (Note: I usually wait to process my paper until my weekly paper appointment. Learn more about organizing your paper HERE.

Even implementing a few of these tips can make vacation recovery a whole lot easier!

Want these tips in a checklist? Click HERE to download it.

Anything you do to ease yourself back into every day life after a vacation? Would love to hear your tips in the comments below!


  1. Monni Chittenden says

    I’d love the checklist but it says it’s not found . Please help – I’m on vacation right now! Thanks for these spectacular tips! You are a genius!

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