How to Prevent a Vacation Hangover

It’s been a long while,  but I’m back online after my bike tour and summer vacation. And I won’t lie– it was awesome! I biked 460 miles by road, and then did another 20+ miles of mountain biking with Sexy. I ate smoked salmon in the UP and then caught salmon off an actual yacht in the LP. Plus lots of canoeing, family time, reading, yada yada…

Now comes the hard part: getting life back in order so that I can crush it at work come Monday morning. I want to avoid that dragging feeling when I’m back in the office. Or like some people say, feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. I need to be refreshed—not hungover—when I get there since I’ve been gone for so long. Plus, I like work, and it’s more fun when I’m getting lots done. Here are 5 things that I do to make it easier to come back from time away.

1. Pack early, pack often

I try to start packing at least  a day or two in advance for trips, even though it might take a while before I actually finish. This gives me extra time to remember things I’m likely to forget and avoid doing last-minute laundry because all my clothes are dirty. Some people hate packing—I can’t relate to this at all (packing = interesting, Tetris-like game of fitting everything into limited space in most efficient way possible!)—and so I can imagine that they leave it all to the last minute. But I think packing little by little is easier because you can just set stuff aside little by little until its all there, and then shove it in a bag (if you’re not into the Tetris thing).

2. Leave a clean house

It’s the worst to end a fun trip and come home to a sink of dirty dishes. It makes me never want to come back at all. I do a minimal amount of cleaning before I leave: empty the sink, wash dishes, sweep the floor (maybe), and take out the trash (hopefully, unless I forget—eww!). If the house is moderately clean, I won’t feel overwhelmed when I walk in the door.

3. Build in extra time

Sometimes my coworkers will go on vacation and arrive home late on a Sunday, with mixed results as to whether they say they’re dragging the next morning. I hate doing that, so I always try to plan a little extra time at home to get settled (leaving me time to write to all of you! Hi!). Often it just means getting home by 4 or 5 pm on a Sunday night to put things away and have some time to relax, but it’s a huge help.

4. Use a staycation combination

Even better than having a few extra hours or a day to catch up, is to combine a trip with a few days at home. For this most recent trip, I was away for a week and a half and then came home to a wonderful four day weekend. Woo-hoo! Another time, I  took a week off, meeting up with a friend in Charleston for a long weekend and then spending the remaining time gardening and working on house projects. For longer trips, this is definitely the way to go!

5. Eat, sleep, play

Vacations and adventures are supposed to be different and exciting, so of course they throw off the regular routine. At the same time, the long days, late nights, and fun activities can lead to some pretty intense vacation fatigue. To the extent that I expect that I will burn the candle at both ends, I plan ahead (see above) so that there will be adequate time to recover. But, more importantly, I try to make some time to actually relax. Mostly, this means that I take a lot of naps!! (My vacation days and weekends often look like this: Morning activity. NAP! Evening activity. SLEEP!) But whatever it takes, I find some time to take it easy.

What do you do to avoid vacation hangovers?

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