The First Thing I Always Do When I Return Home from Vacation

published Jul 29, 2022
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Coming home from vacation is always a letdown. Sure, you might return with a renewed appreciation for your bed and the stability that comes from having a set routine. Hopefully, you were able to leave your home in order before you left so that when you walk in you feel the welcoming embrace of a familiar place rather than being hit in the face with the garbage you forgot to take out. 

But even with the best laid pre-departure plans, work responsibilities come crashing down now that they’re no longer kept at bay by your “OOO” automatic email response, you have to order groceries (and cook them!), there’s a small mountain of mail to sort through and deal with, and then, of course, there are the beds you’ll have to make and the bathrooms you’ll have to clean. 

One of the worst parts of coming home from vacation, though, is unpacking. No longer the promise of fun adventures, your vacation clothes are a worn and wrinkled tangle of not-fresh garments that drive home the fact that you are back in the real world now. Know what’s even more unpleasant than having a few suitcases worth of laundry to do? Luggage stuffed with this big to-do that’s sitting in your bedroom for a week (or more). 

That’s why I’ve made it a point to follow my late great-aunt’s example when it comes to this very thing. She was an adventurous woman who loved to travel, into her elderly years. The minute she got back from a trip, she’d open her suitcase, toss the dirty clothes in the washing machine, unpack the rest, and put her suitcase away, ready for the next journey. 

Unpacking immediately might seem like a jarring way to ease into normal life, but it actually offers many advantages. On a super practical level, dealing with your vacation clothes right away means that your swimsuits and cover-ups from that last dip in the pool don’t have a chance to get musty. 

By riding that get-home momentum to get one last thing done, or started, in this case, you get the ball rolling on what could otherwise end up being a procrastinated task. Getting that first load of laundry in the washer is the catalyst to unpacking everything. You’ve probably unloaded all the clothes and the next load is ready to go in a pile on the floor. Since there are only a few other things left in your suitcase to put away, you might as well do those, too. 

The biggest perk, though, is the psychological boon of coming back from vacation and refusing to slump. Using your return home as a reset, confirmed by being on top of things, confers a re-entry feeling of “I’m back, refreshed, on my game, and better than ever.”