Coming home from a fantastic vacation is never fun, but it's even less so if the car keys are in hiding and other minor nuisances arise. Take a little time before and after the trip to tend to tasks that will make coming home a whole lot smoother.
Clean the house. Preparation before leaving the house is the key to success, said Terri Stephens, a professional organizer and owner of Real Order Professional Organizing in Atlanta.
"Allow enough time to neaten up before leaving so you don't come home to a mess; laundry caught up, dishes clean, beds made, refrigerator cleaned out, etc.," she said.
Plan for meals upon return. Stephens also recommends planning a simple menu for coming home and making sure you have all the ingredients before leaving. Another option is to request a grocery delivery service or ask a friend to pick up a few perishable items to bring by before you get home. Have some shelf-stable items on hand for quick meals.
Decide where to leave the car. If leaving a car at the airport, take a photo of it in its parking place. This will make it much easier to find when you return. If catching a ride to the airport, touch base with the friend or ride service on the last day of the trip to confirm the ride home. If driving, make sure to have emergency numbers like AAA handy.
Make a "going home" pack. Fill it with your car and house keys and a little cash for tolls or taxis. After arriving at the destination, stow your travel documents in there and tuck it into the carry-on. No need to dig for them on the return trip.
Apply for a TSA Precheck. "Being able to skip the long lines at security has sometimes saved me at least 30 minutes," said Margaret Martin, Where regional editorial director, who travels frequently for work. For those who don't have a precheck, she recommends wearing shoes without laces for ease in removing them and putting all liquids into one plastic bag to easily access them during screening.
On the Last Day
Fully charge all electronics. There will probably be somewhere to charge them throughout the trip, but just in case there's not, that charge should last a while.
Check the weather and pack accordingly. To avoid rainy surprises, use an app such as Weather Underground or The Weather Channel, both available for iPhone and Android. Check the weather at different points and decide whether to pack the jackets and umbrellas into the suitcase, or to keep them handy on the journey home.
Keep dirty laundry separate. It will be easier to sort for laundering at home and save the aggravation of washing everything in the suitcase. Austin Grandt, writer at Trip Dojo, offers several ideas for keeping laundry separate, ranging from the luggage shoe compartment to a simple plastic bag. Another idea is to use a separate suitcase, if more than one is used for the trip.
Change all watches and clocks that aren't on a smart phone back to local time. Trust us, it will save confusion.
Deal with leftover currency. Exchange it at the departing or returning airport, or just go shopping.
Take an extra day before returning to work. Using the time to unpack, do laundry and getting things ready to go back to work will make returning to work after vacation less stressful. Chrissy Halton, of Organise My House, recommends returning to work at the end of the week to catch up on missed work, rather than returning at the beginning of the week.
"Better to start back on a Thursday or Friday when you can use the time to catch up rather than get stuck in at the deep end," said Halton.