World directions signpostThere’s a reason as many as 55% of Americans don’t use all of their vacation time…post-trip reentry is a bitch! We are a culture of workaholics and we’ve adopted a bit of a “work martyr complex” that keeps us from enjoying one of the perks of work…VACATION. Avoiding taking that time to cool our jets means that our health, well-being and relationships suffer. As we move into these fleeting days of summer, get thee to the beach or mountains, or even enjoy a staycation if you’re on a tight budget! But for the love of all things sane, take a vacation!

If it’s the reentry process that scares you into vacation avoidance mode, try a few of
these tips to ease the post-vacation stress so you can reap the benefits of taking a little time off:

  • For every week you’re gone, allow yourself one full day as a buffer. I know, I know…we can barely take ANY time off…now you’re saying take even more? Trust me, this is important. If you take a week off, come back Saturday and give yourself Sunday to catch up. If you take two weeks off, give yourself both Saturday and Sunday to recover. The end of a vacation means laundry, mail, email, and grocery shopping. You’ll savor that vacation state of mind if you give yourself time to take care of these necessities before jumping right back into work. Lie to people about your return date if you have to, but protect that buffer time so you can ease back in.
  • Consider paying a housesitter or neighbor to do a quick grocery run for you right before you return. What’s worse than the end of a fabulous vacation? Returning to a house with no coffee! Having a few essentials on hand will make your reentry slightly less painful.
  • Before you leave, unsubscribe from as many email lists as you possibly can. I just returned from two glorious weeks in Europe, during election and back-to-school season! But before I left, I spent a few days looking at the emails that come in on a daily basis and I pretty much unsubscribed from every single one. I get a lot of political email, plus the digests related to my work and hobbies and schools. I took the time to actually unsubscribe from almost all of this so that they didn’t pile up while I was gone. If I miss this information upon return, I can always sign back up.
  • Do a quick scan of all paper mail and email and pull out the urgent things (e.g. bills due next week, meeting requests from your boss). Dump the rest into a folder that you can deal with in a week or two when you’re feeling caught up. Admit it, not everything is urgent! Figure out what hill you’re going to die on upon return and let the rest sit for a bit.
  • Set aside a specific day to manage photos, memorabilia and other trip related leftovers. While this isn’t an urgent task, it is the kind of thing that can pile up and quickly be forgotten. Savor those trip memories by pulling out your favorite pictures and making a quick photo book. I’m a fan of My Publisher and their tool that pretty much builds books for me. Shred airline tickets and receipts you don’t need, set aside any memorabilia you may want to hang on to if you enjoy scrapbooking or like to share travel information with others. Do a quick scan of your credit card statement to make sure all charges are legit.

Vacation is important for our sanity, our creativity, our health and our relationships with family and friends. Don’t let fear of your return keep you from leaving in the first place. Anticipate the reentry phase and do as much as you can in advance to ease back into real life and hopefully this will let you soak up every minute of down time you’ve earned. Now go…