A thorough cleaning would be great, of course, but to-do lists tend to get long right before a trip. To allow yourself to be more relaxed upon your return, here are a few key tasks to tackle.
Put on fresh sheets and make your bed. Climbing into bed between clean sheets — especially after enduring a layover or long car ride — will make you happy to be home.
Load and run your dishwasher. Take a minute to go around your home and collect dishes that have wandered to side and coffee tables. Take them to the dishwasher and load 'er up; you'll have clean plates and bowls to use upon your return.
Take out the trash. Because who wants to be greeted by the smell of garbage?
Wipe down countertops. Get your kitchen and bath looking cleaner quickly by removing crumbs, water spots, etc., from these big swathes of space.
Give quick order to clutter. If you're cleaning truly last minute and have a lot to put away (ahem), give yourself a head start on a deeper clean by making small piles in the appropriate room. It might not work for everyone, but if I'm really short on time, this method keeps me from feeling more overwhelmed when I get home.