There is so much more to prepping for a summer family vacation than just packing your bags and dropping the dog at the kennel.
In the midst of planning details like transportation, itineraries, pet care and packing needs, it’s important to remember the last stop of your trip: home.
By planning ahead a little bit, you’ll keep that vacation feeling alive when you return home, instead of reluctantly returning to “real life”.
1. Make a list
Organize your pre-trip countdown with a list and check things off as you go. You don’t want to stress out about forgetting something as you lock the front door on your way out. It’s an awful feeling and nobody wants to start a vacation like that.
2. Mow the lawn
A quick way for your house to look sloppy is to let the grass grow to ridiculous heights. A day or two before you leave, cut the grass a bit shorter than you usually do. Your lawn will look slightly shaggy when you return in two weeks (or three, you lucky son-of-a-gun), but it won’t look like the jungles of Central America, either.
3. Stop newspaper
Call your paper and stop delivery service while you’re gone. Any news that lands on your front porch will be old news by the time you get home. You and I both know you won’t be reading all of those papers. Stopping delivery will also ensure that you’re not wasting paper needlessly. Look at you! You’re being green. Some publishers will donate your papers to local reading programs, so keep that in mind, as well.
4. Stop mail delivery
Similarly, stop by the post office or fill out an online form to have your mail held while you’re gone. In this modern age, there’s no need to rely on your neighbors to collect your mail every day. As nice as they may be, they have enough on their plates without having to work for you.
5. Set timers on your lights
What rooms do you normally spend time in at night? Which lamps do you turn on? On a typical evening, I will eat dinner in the kitchen, spend some time in the living room, and then go upstairs and read a bit before bed. Setting timers in those rooms in sequence, loosely approximating my evening routine, makes my house look lived in, which is a subtly effective crime deterrent.
Coming home to a pitch-black house is no fun, either. This way, you’re programming your house to invite you back inside when you return. Inexpensive timers are available at most hardware stores and retail outlets like Target and K-Mart for about $10.
6. Clean the house
It may seem counterproductive to clean your house before you go. You’re excited to leave, after all. Cleaning your house before you go does something subtly magical, though. When your vacation is over, you can delay the onset of everyday life by walking through your front door and feeling like it’s another destination on your route.
Think about it. When you arrive at a motel, hotel, or rental property, everything is tidy and ready for you. There are no dishes in the sink, the bathrooms are clean, the floors are vacuumed, and the sheets are crisp. Imagine getting that same feeling as you walk into your own home.
If you’ve been roughing it on your trip, that feeling is multiplied even further after sleeping on the ground or inside a cramped RV, toting a layer of grime around with you.
You don’t have to go crazy, but some simple de-cluttering and house cleaning will go a long way. Wash the dishes, put them away in the pantry, put clean sheets on the bed, do a few loads of laundry, and put the clothes away neatly in your bedroom closet.
You’ll be glad you did.
Here’s to a fantastic summer vacation and a happy return home!