I travel a decent amount. I may not be jet-setting off on month-long excursions around the world, but it’s the rare month that I’m not out of town at least 2 weekends. In the past 3 weeks alone, I’ve been gone 14 days. And, with all that travel, it’s easy to let the little life to-dos that keep things running at home fall by the wayside.
A few trips in the books and it starts to feel like things at home are spiraling out of control. Without a plan in place, it’s not long before the fridge is continuously empty, laundry is piling up, and sheets haven’t been changed in weeks. So, how do I stay on top of life when traveling frequently?
HOW TO STAY ON TOP OF LIFE WHEN TRAVELING FREQUENTLY
Staying on top of life when traveling frequently is a 3-part effort for me: I plan ahead, I try to stick to a routine while gone, and I have a set routine when I get back that lets me fall right into place, while also catching up on anything that got away from me while I was gone.
My biggest tip is to not get overwhelmed at your to-do list when you return. It’s one step at a time. Get up a little earlier if you need to, stay up a little later, but get it done. If you let that laundry pile up further, it’s just going to be more intimidating than if you do it now. If you order takeout again because restocking the fridge seems too big a task, you can fall into an ubereats black hole. It may seem like a lot in the moment, but you’ll be far less stressed if you get done what you need to get done in order to feel caught up on life.
PREPARE AHEAD OF TRAVEL
Before you go, take stock of anything that needs to be done that will make your life easier when you get home. Don’t leave a full laundry hamper waiting for you. Throw away or freeze anything in the fridge that may go bad while you’re gone. Pick up a few frozen meals to have on hand for when you return, but before you’ve had time to get to the grocery store. Make sure the house is clean and things are put away so that you’re not coming home to a mess.
If you have a tendency to stress about travel, make sure your planner and calendar are up to date with exactly what your week looks like when you come back. Knowing what’s waiting for you and knowing that it’s written down and accounted for takes some of the uncertainty out of being away.
WHILE YOU’RE AWAY
Don’t totally abandon routine while you’re gone. Get sleep. Eat a healthy meal here and there. Work out (or at least walk!) every day. I know some people swear by unplugging, but I think it’s worth checking in so that a mountain of emails isn’t waiting for you when you get back. Remember, the more you stay in a balanced state of mind while you’re gone, the easier it is to get back in the groove when you return.
HAVE A ROUTINE FOR WHEN YOU GET HOME
As soon as I get home, I have a routine in place to get things back up and running. Unless I’m arriving home at an ungodly hour, I unpack immediately. No excuses. That bag gets unpacked. I throw a load of laundry in the washer. I put my suitcase away in the closet (unless it’s like this past few weeks and it’s not worth the loading/unloading of the closet only to pull my suitcase back out a couple of days later…#smallspaceproblems).
Then, depending on when I’ve arrived home, I’ll either do a speed cleaning of the condo that evening or first thing the next morning. The reality is, when you have a pet, fur can pile up while you’re gone. The regular swiffer and vacuum maintenance that I handle when I’m in town isn’t happening while I’m gone, so things just feel a bit dusty when I get back. I spritz the whole place with homemade air freshener and maybe even light some sage just to make everything feel fresh.
I also make a grocery list to restock on necessities as soon as I get back. I don’t want to fall in the trap of eating out simply because there’s nothing in the fridge, so it’s one of my immediate items upon returning from vacation. On a similar note, I get right back into my workout routine the next day.
The biggest thing is not letting the, “Oh, I’ve been out of town” excuse let you stay behind on the things that need to get done. As soon as you’re home, get right back into your routine — you may be a bit tired or worn out, but the further you get behind, the harder it will be to climb back out of the hole.