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My Pre and Post Vacation Checklist to Come Back Refreshed and Excited (And Avoid the Post Vacation Blues!)

Sep 30, 2019

vacation checklist

Above: Snapped on our trip to the Amalfi Coast last year (Dress is old from Everlane!) 

We’re home, we’re home!! 

I MISSED YOU GUYS! (I mean, I know you came along with me on Instagram, but I missed writing!) 

Spain was such a dream. Wow. Wow. Wow. I’m going to start editing my photos later this afternoon after I hit publish on this post and knock out a couple other to-do’s! Definitely, I’ll be sharing ALL the details, don’t you worry! 

I had another post planned for today, but yesterday as I was prepping for the week I realized there were a lot of tips I wanted to share in regards to returning from vacation refreshed instead of with the post-vacation blues.

Don’t get me wrong, the fact that I’m no longer sunbathing on a rocky Mallorcan cliff overlooking the Mediterranean does make me sad. ? But there were a lot of things I put into place before and after our trip to ensure I didn’t dive right back into “super stressed Jess” zone this week. This morning, I woke up with excitement, rather than with the dread of going back to work.

I know a lot of you love to travel, so I think these will really help set yourself up for success when returning to work! (By the way–if it’s pre-vacation packing related tips you’re looking for–head over to this post!) 

Pre vacation checklist: 

Clean before you leave, or schedule a cleaning crew to come while you’re gone

I can’t explain the difference in mood I experience when I come home to a clean house vs. a disorganized one. Now, I know myself and I am a complete disaster up until the second I leave for vacation. So, to say I leave the house in a state of disarray would be an understatement. That’s why we always schedule our cleaning lady to come while we’re gone. If you can swing it, I cannot recommend this enough. Seriously, build it into your trip budget–it’s SO worth it! (Or, if you’re not a disaster like me, just buffer some extra time into your schedule to do a clean sweep before you leave!) 

Schedule a “buffer day” 

I don’t remember when Neal and I started doing this, but I’m so glad we did. We always return home from long trips on Saturday instead of Sunday. Otherwise, purposely take the following day off just to give ourselves a buffer day. Personally, I need a day to get back into the groove, get myself organized and set myself up to ease back into work. Otherwise, I completely stress myself out and undo all the de-stressing I accomplished while on vacation! 

Block off chunks of your calendar for your return week so you can give yourself plenty of “white space” to play catch-up. 

I highly recommend this regardless of what you do for work–whether you work in a corporate job, you’re self-employed, etc. I think especially if you work in a corporate job, your calendar can get filled with so many meetings you can barely find time to think! Think ahead and purposely block off chunks of your calendar so people can’t book you in meetings. That way, you actually have time to get caught up. 

Get the big projects/deadlines out of the way before vacation 

If at all possible, try to plan a vacation right AFTER a busy season. Get any deadlines/projects out of the way before you leave, so you can truly tune out. (Thus, why you saw my influx of sponsored posts go up all in a row before I left! ?) I know this isn’t always possible, but when you can make it happen, it makes such a difference. Plus, you won’t be quite so stressed coming back to work knowing you don’t have any looming deadlines! 

Post vacation checklist: 

(I would list “unpack immediately” here but…I’m not going to pretend I do that. ?) 

Grocery shop and meal prep 

I don’t know about you, but one of the biggest positives of coming home from a great vacation is finally being able to eat a healthy, home-cooked meal. After 10 days of tons of bread, cheese, SO MANY TAPAS and SO much wine, Neal and I couldn’t wait to cook again! I sat down and thought of a couple things to meal prep for the week and hit up TJ’s and Whole Foods, and I feel so much better about the week now! 

Healthy meal prep tip: My e-book Teach Me How to TJ’s has some great healthy meal-prep ideas–my favorite is to make a batch of Farro, Brown Rice or Quinoa salad! There are tons of ways you can make it, but yesterday, I just made some quinoa and tossed it with my favorite raw veggies (peppers, onion, tomatoes, and cucumber) and some balsamic vinaigrette. I plan to eat it for lunches and snacks this week! 

Plan out your whole week on Sunday 

I HIGHLY recommend downloading my friend Steph’s free 15 Minute Planner – her method is my favorite for getting your week organized and prioritizing the things that really matter. Personally, I think getting ahead of your schedule and on your organizing game makes the biggest difference in coming back from vacation feeling excited and prepared, vs disorganized and stressed. 

Ease back into your social calendar 

I talk about this often, but I’m really protective of my social calendar in general. I don’t like to overcommit to too many things. To feel like the best version of myself, I need a lot of white space in my calendar. This is especially true after a long vacation. If I come back to a ton of social engagements, I tend to get really overwhelmed. I usually try to avoid making plans the week we get back.

I know it might feel awkward at first saying no without an excuse, but my friends know me well enough by now that it’s not weird when I say, “we will just be getting back from Spain that week so count me in as a maybe–I don’t know how I’ll be feeling playing catch-up and I don’t want to overwhelm myself with commitments!” If anything, people will be like “Wow, good for you. I need to start doing that!” (More on “How to say no” in this blog post!) 

Get a LOT of sleep and drink a lot of water 

To avoid jet lag coming back from a long trip, I don’t usually sleep on the plane coming home. That way, I can get a lot of sleep the night I get home. I usually aim for 2 nights of 9-10 hours of sleep. Anyway, I don’t really experience any jet lag or time change issues. 

When coming from Europe at least, the time change is always in our favor when we take a late afternoon flight. So that’s what we usually aim to do! That way, by the time we land, it’s essentially just like staying out all night in Europe, but early evening at home. So as long as we go to bed say, around 10pm, it’s basically only a few hours later than we’d stay out in Barcelona anyway, haha! 

Also, this goes without saying, but hydration is really key to avoiding jet lag. Drink a lot of water–more than you think you need to–and it will definitely help avoid that “hangover” feeling! 

Have a self-care plan

Did you read our latest Real Women Approved post, all on self-care? It has SO many good ideas in it! The week after a vacation is inevitably ALWAYS stressful.  Make sure you have a “self care menu” of sorts you can fall back on when you start to feel the pressure building up again. You don’t want to burn yourself out! 

For me personally, that means making time to read, and ensuring I’m taking CBD every day (it’s most effective when you take it like a vitamin!)–you guys know how obsessed I am with Equilibria CBD (so much so that I help them with marketing now!) You can save 20% on your first order with code JESSKEYS. Get ALLLL the details on CBD over in this post! 

That, paired with sleep and staying active is definitely my biggest means of ensuring I stay leveled out instead of going into overdrive. Everyone is different though, so I definitely encourage you to come up with your own plan! See lots of ideas here

I hope these tips help you return from your next vacation excited and refreshed! 

Want more travel tips? Read my Best Packing Tips for Long Trips, What to Wear in Barcelona + Mallorca, and My Amalfi Coast Guide

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