Going on vacation can go one of two ways.
Either you can ease yourself into it nice and gently, have no expectations and experience the best three weeks of your life
you save up all year, get stressed out of your brain, worry about anything and everything, freak out because the kids aren’t as excited as they should be and after two weeks you come home feeling broke, frazzled and exhausted.
And you have sunburn on your shoulders.
You swear that the next time you take a break it will be a stay-cation.
Sound faintly familiar? Just a teeny bit?
Let’s make sure your next vacation is the former and not the latter.
It’s very easy to do if you follow these 39 simple steps.
I promise you that going on vacation will never leave you feeling frazzled or stressed again.
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39 Tips To Remove The Mess & Stress Of Going On Vacation
Do I need to remind you that this is your holiday too?
Just to be clear, you have organised and fussed, phoned and booked, packed and prepped and spent many a late night in bed on your phone planning (when you should have been sleeping) and researching the most affordable, unique and underrated vacation destinations that your family will love.
And now it’s time to relax.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Tell The Mailpeople
If you are going for longer than three weeks, then I suggest redirecting your mail. If not, tell the mailman (sorry – not allowed to say that anymore) tell the mail person that you are away.
That way, they won’t worry that the reason the junk mail is piling up outside your door is because you are being held captive in your front room by a savage dog.
2. Empty The Freezer and Switch It Off
If your chest freezer that sits in the garage is anything like mine and only houses a bag of frozen peas, a bottle of water from when you went camping and some old tomato soup that you made two years ago; empty if and switch it off – and if you have the energy; clean it out.
3. Change The Sheets On The Beds
It’s a pain doing it, but imagine what you will feel like when you return from your three-week vacation and slip into those crisp fresh sheets.
Strip the bed and add extra fabric conditioner.
4. Empty The Dishwasher And Leave The Door Open
Too many times, we have come home from a trip only to be met with a pongy kitchen. The culprit is the dishwasher. Even if you leave one dirty cup in the top drawer over two weeks, it will stink the kitchen out.
Empty it and leave the door open.
5. Tell The School That You’re Taking The Kids Out
I’m not sure what the laws are in your country around taking kids out of school for a vacation, and because we have been homeschooling for the past ten years, it’s not something I have ever had to worry about.
Last year we left everything behind and spent twelve months backpacking around the world with our teenagers, so I do know this.
Unless your kids are doing some exams or are in a play or something else very drastic and important, pulling them out of school for a week or so before the holidays so you can go on vacation (without the hoards) will not harm their education whatsoever.
Flights and hotels will be much cheaper and take it from me; the kids won’t miss (anything important) in that last week or two, so stop worrying about the children so much and get on the phone to the school.
6. Make Sure Pets Vaccinations Are Up To Date
Unless you plan on taking your dogs on vacation with you, phone the vet ahead of time to organise their jabs.
7. Get Good Travel Insurance
So many times I have heard people say “oh, my credit card comes with insurance”.
No. Trust me here; if you are traveling overseas, then do yourself a favour and use an insurance company such as this one that specialises in travel.
We only ever use this company for our insurance.
We saved $$$’s in Thailand on dental bills after I cracked a tooth on street food, and when my daughter walked into a window in Vegas, World Nomads paid for everything quickly and efficiently.
8. Pack Travel Essentials For The Plane
By packing some gorgeous travel essentials for the plane, you can make the flight part of your vacation. Things that will help you sleep and make your skin feel hydrated are a must.
9. Wear Comfortable Pants On The Flight (or car journey)
Noone likes to sit squirming and yanking on a pair of annoying too tight, itchy pants. Make sure that you wear comfortable travel pants.
No matter that they don’t look like something out of Vogue. flattering or swish?
You are going to be sitting on that plane (or in that car) for a few hours – think of your comfort first.
10. Make a Couple Of Meals And Freeze Them
Something that you can pop into the oven when you arrive home. Leave in the oven for an hour while you unpack. Keep it simple; don’t stress out. A lasagne and a Vegetable pie will do the trick.
11. Turn Your Water Off
So that you don’t come home to any floods.
12. If It’s a Winter Holiday Turn Your Heating System Down
Not so much that the house freezes but enough to save you money while you are gone.
13. Clear Your SD Cards On Your Camera
I know you can take great photos on your iPhone but you can’t beat a lovely camera. Just be sure to clear space on the memory before you leave.
There is nothing more infuriating than the ‘storage full’ message when you have just rounded everyone up in front of the Taj Mahal for a pic.
14. Think About Taking A Drone
If you are taking a vacation in a country that will allow drones then consider packing a small travel drone for stunning photography.
We took a drone around the world with us, and the footage we captured was magnificent. (Check their regulations first though!)
15. Buy Enough Contact Lenses To Last You
If you are taking an international vacation then know that it’s not easy to buy contact lenses over the counter.
This is the mistake I made when we visited America last year. I assumed that the US would be like New Zealand (where we live) and that you would be able to buy lenses online – delivered to your door the next day.
Unfortunately, I found that it was not so easy and as a result had to wait until we visited Hong Kong to buy a big stash.
Buy enough lenses to last you.
16. Leave On A Tuesday And Take Monday Off
For the extra two days of leave that you will have to take, this plan is so worth it.
By doing this you get a long weekend either side of the vacation, giving you time to relax beforehand.
17. Come Back On A Thursday And Take Friday Off
See above. The same applies. You will need these extra days to unpack and ease back into the shock of being home.
Let’s face it. It’s always hard to come home, even if you are glad to see your pillow.
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18. Book A Couple Of Days Off Afterwards
Do not come back from vacation and head straight back into work. Just don’t.
19. Don’t Make Plans For When You Come Home
See nobody and invite nobody ’round for dinner. No meetings, no conference calls, nothing. Not for a couple of days.
People aren’t really that interested in looking at your holiday snaps – they would much rather tell you about the problems they have had to endure while you were away.
And that will make you sad. Or mad.
So leave socialising for a couple of days.
20. Don’t Research Everything About The Place
Don’t make the mistake of believing everything you hear about a place.
There are so many conflicting travel tips and opinions regarding countries around the world that you are best ignoring everyone (except me – I’ll tell you the truth) and finding out about a place for yourself.
This way you can make your own mind up. Yes, you may end up making a fool of yourself on your Italy trip but it makes for a much more exciting holiday.
21. Get Some Local Currency
Last summer we made the mistake of visiting Ireland without getting Euros ahead of time.
We were housesitting in a remote part of the country and ignorantly thought that there would be ATM’s everywhere.
We found out the hard way. It turns out that outside of the main cities in Ireland, there aren’t many places to get cash.
One of the many mistakes we made in Ireland – don’t do the same. Order some local currency before you go.
22. Swap Roles
Give the money to the person who doesn’t usually deal with it.
Give yourself a break – or some power. Whichever way your relationship works.
My husband never deals with the money at home; for some reason, that is my job. I buy the groceries, pay the bills and run the day to day budget.
Until we go on vacation.
Then, he wears the crown, and I love it. It feels like a vacation in itself not having to worry about that side of things.
Try it. It works a treat.
23. Delegate Vacation Tasks
Give your son the task of looking for local restaurants.
Give your partner the task of booking car hire. Don’t take on everything yourself. You will be burned out before you step off the plane. Delegate the minor tasks and trust that the person will be ok.
Let go of the reigns a little – it’s time for a break.
24. Learn a Little Off The Lingo (Or Install Google Translate Onto your Phone)
We recently spent a few months backpacking around Japan. Japanese people don’t speak much English, but I made an effort to at least learn how to say “hello” and “thank you”.
If you are going on vacation to a country where English isn’t widely spoken, then learn a few phrases.
I also recommend installing (the free) google translate app onto your phone.
25. Download Lots Of Books To Your Kindle
I was always a fan of taking lots of paperback books away on holiday until I discovered the kindle. If you haven’t got one already i would recommend getting the one with a backlight – it gives a much better reading experience.
Download lots of books onto it before you go.
26. Download Music To Your Phone
Whether it is meditation sleep music for the plane or upbeat disco music to get you over your fear of flying, do it before you leave home to save on relying on data.
27. Turn Off Data Roaming On Your Phone
Check to see if your plan includes cheap international data, if not turn it off. You can always get a local SIM card when you get to your destination but be aware that people won’t be able to call you on your regular cell number.
28. Take a SIM Card Removal Tool With You!
Talking of SIM cards.
Have you ever tried to change a SIM card in your phone without one of these tools? Impossible!
Luckily I have a freaky anal husband who seems to think of everything when it comes to handy travel tools, so I was never caught out, but on the off chance that you don’t have super organised other half, make sure you take one of these Sim card tools with you in case you need to change to a local SIM card.
You can always read my husband’s in-depth travel checklist and then you too will never be caught out again.
29. Turn Off Mobile Data On Kids Phones
This is a tricky one, and as someone who travels with two teenagers, I know how much kids need their devices.
But sometimes it is nice to have our kids back in the real world, and the only way you can do this is to turn off their data and refusing to hot spot them.
Terribly cruel I know, but wonderfully satisfying.
I will leave this decision up to you but know that we took the data off the kid’s phones in lots of countries that we visited and once they got used to it, we had a much calmer and engaged day.
30. Do NOT Go On A Diet
Please don’t do this.
Vacation diets are not only miserable but are a complete waste of time.
Noone and I mean no-one will be looking at you on vacation thinking “I’m sure she has lost two inches off her waist”.
Sorry, but they just won’t.
So, instead of starving yourself for a month before your holiday, take that energy and invest it into some self-love exercises instead.
And scoff lots of food.
When you are on vacation, feed your body mindfully and eat well. Embrace who you are and I promise you that your confidence that you will radiate will be much more beautiful than losing an inch off your bum.
Rant over. Enjoy the local food and don’t be dieting or I’ll come and find you and tell you off.
31. Buy The Most Expensive Swimsuit To Make You Feel Good
I hope you are curvy. Because curvy is sooo now and so sexy.
To celebrate those gorgeous womanly curves treat yourself to a beautiful bathing costume to take on vacation with you.
Go for a halter neck and a panelled front to hold everything together. I love this high necked flattering bathing suit.
It’s a fab price and makes you feel a million dollars when you wear it.
32. Make Your Vacation Expectations Clear From The Start
It is so easy to try and keep everyone else happy when you go on a vacation that you often forget your own needs.
Make it clear to your travel companions from the start what you wish to do and encourage everyone else in the party to do the same.
I had always dreamed of seeing the ruins of Pompeii, but my teenagers were like, “Nah”.
As it was, the kids loved looking at the mummified bodies for the afternoon, and I got to run away from them and be on my own for an hour so it was a win-win.
Be clear about your expectations. This is your vacation too.
33. Change Your Habits
Do you always eat dinner at six? Eat later. Do you only ever drink decaf tea? Try a shot of espresso. Are you continually nagging at the kids to get off their phones? Turn a blind eye and see if you feel different.
If you are taking a weekend trip to Paris, why not give climbing the Eiffel Tower, a miss and see Paris differently? Have a picnic underneath the tower and watch the tourists lining up in the heat.
They say a change is as good as a rest, and I am a firm believer in that.
Try things differently on this vacation and see how you feel; I think you will love it!
34. DON’T Get a Hair Cut
This is a bit of a weird one, but trust me.
When you get to wherever you are going seek out a local who’s hair looks beautiful, ask them where they had it done and go and book an appointment.
There are two reasons for doing this.
One: what better way than to fully immerse yourself in the country than visiting the local hairdresser and gossiping in broken English?
Two: You will feel fresh, local, and new – (especially if you happen to be somewhere swish like Italy).
35. But Cut The Grass
Don’t come home to dandelions around your knees; it will only stress you out. Get the lawn mowed.
36. Fill The Car Up
You don’t want to be coming home to an empty tank and let’s face it; there is nothing more tedious than going to the petrol station and the attendant not even commenting on your tan.
Have a full tank for when you arrive home.
37. Write The luggage Name Tags BEFORE You Leave For The Airport
There are a few airport hacks that we have come to use after so many years of travel and writing the name tags before you arrive is one of them.
Don’t do it at the desk. You can never find your pen, nor can you ever remember your postcode.
Delegate it to one of the kids before you leave. If you don’t have kids, then write them out yourself two days before the trip.
38. Save Space In The Case
You know that wherever you are going on vacation, you are going to see loads of beautiful clothes that you can’t live without or wooden statues that would look amazing in the bathroom.
Remember to leave enough space in your luggage to snap up a few bargains and bring them home.
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39. Finally. Going On Vacation? Relax and Enjoy It!
So many times you hear people complain that when they return home from their trip, they “need a vacation to get over it”.
Don’t be like this.
Use the above tips to plan, delegate and more importantly, to take the expectation out of everything having to be ‘perfect’.
Perfect is what you already have.
This is your vacation – you have waited all year for this, and guess what? If the weather is crap and you end up sitting in a hotel room for three days watching TV then pour yourself a large glass of chilled white wine and go with it.
Kick back and indulge.
The telly is better abroad anyway.
Going on vacation is all about relaxing, filling your days with things that are different from the norm.
Feeling unique and getting excited about nabbing the beachfront sunbed.
Your holiday will be fantastic; go with the flow and breathe.
And stop thinking about how much it is all costing you – it is worth every cent.
If you know someone else who is going on vacation soon and you think they would enjoy this post – PLEASE spread the love and share! Until then; Bon, voyage!