I returned home this weekend, from a lovely 7-day cruise. Most of my travels fit neatly into a well-oiled routine much like a week in an office, just with the swapping in of a couple flights and some airport or hotel lounge meals instead of meals at home. A cruise is a bit different but I still follow the same basic routine when I get home. Here are my top 7 tips for what to do when returning home from a trip.
1. Unpack everything and put in the washer or send off to dry-cleaning. I know that not everyone wears everything they bring on a trip. In fact, I read a study somewhere that said something like 4 out of 10 items aren’t worn. Still, little critters may have nestled their way into your stuff, and crunchy bits from that unwrapped chocolate bar might have rubbed against your nice, clean, white shirt. This also gives you a head start on #2, which is…
2. Take inventory of your items and file insurance claims if needed. If you are a frequent traveler you know instantly what goes where in your bag, and as you unpack if you have the niggling feeling that something is gone, now is the time to find out for sure. Some things are easy and inexpensive to replace, but others such as a photo ID or expensive electronics item may be a pain. If something is missing, every minute that passes works against you for recovering it. Since travel and health insurance policies often have strict time limits too, you don’t want to miss the filing deadline and be told you are ineligible for any coverage.
3. Charge your devices. If you’re anything like me (especially when out of the country), chances are you’ll arrive back home with low battery levels on everything electronic, from mobile phones to laptops and tablets. It only takes a few minutes to plug them in, and then you can use them again sooner without being tethered to the charging cord.
4. Check your bank accounts/loyalty program balances. Even though you may have signed bills that looked correct, the amount posted to your accounts may be different. Sometimes you get charged double for something, or a hotel stay or flight doesn’t register. If you have to contest with the airline, sometimes you have to provide them with your boarding pass.
4. Get plenty of sleep, and drink lots of water. Flights are dehydrating and travel can be draining especially if you’ve crossed multiple time zones. Catching a nap and drinking water will help keep you healthy and feeling refreshed so you are ready to jump back into your regular routine.
4. Check your email, and visit neighbors to pick up mail. I try to wait until I am rested before I tackle the email inbox, since it is usually overflowing and best dealt with in a calm fashion. If you have had an automated vacation response on, you’ll want to make sure it is turned off. Everyone has their own way of going through their emails, but generally scanning to see if anything urgent needs attention first is a good idea. If a neighbor was watching your home and picking up your newspapers or mail while you were away, you can take a break after the urgent emails and stop over to say hi and pick up your items. Then returning back to the inbox you can then get rid of all the spam and focus on the rest of the emails.
5. Download photos and organize them. Removing photos from the camera is the first step, so they can get to a safe location before you head out again on another trip. Deleting those blurred accidental shots of your hand or the ground make the job of sorting the other 4,000 photos from the weekend quicker, regardless if the photos were for business or holiday. Note the name of that delicious dish you enjoyed, or the small winding road not on the map that you took before it slips your mind. I stay at a lot of hotels, and find that if I don’t make notes after a trip or at least sort the photos properly it can be difficult to pinpoint which hotel was which if all the photos are dumped into one file.
6. Check your calendar for upcoming events. Getting back into your regularly scheduled routine, you might find that an upcoming flight has had a schedule change while you were away, or remember that you still needed to book a hotel for the conference starting in two days. Looking at your calendar helps jog your memory on what needs attention before the days start going by too quickly.
7. Make more travel plans. If you had a wonderful time with family on holiday, pencil in a tentative date for next year’s soiree while everyone is still basking in the glow of the trip. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen. Plus, getting something on the calendar and making travel arrangements now means you’ll also have something to look forward to.
Is my routine similar to yours? Did I leave out any good tips that you follow when returning home from a trip?