Mental Health Monday

Mentally Preparing For Vacation

Hello, hello! I’m already on my vacation, but you guys here won’t notice a difference in my uploading since I managed to plan ahead! At least, that’s what I’m hoping. But the idea of planning blogs and work ahead of time brings me to a very important point. We need to prepare for vacation, especially mentally.

How do we mentally prepare for vacation?

Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem on

First things first, make a list.

I learned how to do this in high school from band camp. They used to hand out full lists of everything we might need to have while we learned our show. Chargers, sunscreen, bug spray, blah, blah, blah. All that jazz.

At the time, I remember thinking I’ll never need this list. I can remember my charger. But turns out, as I checked over my list, I had forgotten to pack my charger and hair ties. Lesson learned. I was very thankful I looked at the list.

As an adult, when you throw money, transportation to transportation (taxi to airport, airport to rental places), hotels, etc you end up devoting a lot of mental space to those things that cost money, time, and have the possibility of going sideways. Save yourself a faux pas and make yourself a list.

I normally make two lists before I leave: one for what needs to get done before I leave and one for what I need to pack. This way I don’t forget to take out the trash and I don’t forget to bring all my important things.

To help clear brain space, reduce last minute stress, and ensure you forget anything and everything, start making a list about a week before your trip or whenever you find you start to stress, whichever comes first. As you remember different things, jot them down on the list. Then, as one of the last things you do, go through your suitcase and/or carry-on and double check everything off the list. I will check the items off as I pack them and again as I check over.

Next up, set two alarms.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be panicking about when you’re leaving and waking up. Again, set an alarm a week in advance fifteen minutes earlier than you think you need and the day before, set a second alarm for the time you absolutely must be up by.

I’ve found that mentally this helps me out. It makes me sleep well the night before I leave and a good night’s sleep is extremely important when you’re traveling. As well, if you wake up and get up at the earlier alarm, you’ll have extra time for messing up, dragging, or having to finish something up. This is extremely important. I almost always get up fifteen to thirty minutes earlier than I think I need to when I have somewhere to be because inevitably, something happens.

No matter how hard we plan, something is bound to go at least slightly awry that day.

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Third, plan a meal for when you return.

Something non-perishable, quick, and filling is a perfect meal. The very, very, very last thing you want to do is clean out your fridge for a long trip and come home to nothing. Not only will you want to resort to junk food/fast food but you’ll want to resort to it for the entire week after returning. Or you might just skip eating altogether to get some rest.

It’s important to set yourself up for success when you leave and when you return. A big part of that is planning a healthy day of eating and drinking water the day you leave and doing the same for your return.

It doesn’t have to be extravagant. In fact, it probably should be something easy and something you enjoy. Maybe pasta with frozen chicken or shrimp and lemon. Maybe a healthy canned chili. Maybe something else but make sure it’s healthy, satisfying, and fun.

Fourth, clean your house.

Wash the sheets, clean the bathroom, vacuum, do the laundry, do the dishes, take out the trash, etc. The very last thing you’re going to want is to come home after a nice vacation to a dirty house that you have to clean.

Do yourself a favor and have all the dishes wash. Get ready to slid into fresh sheets on a freshly made bed. Your home is going to be the most welcoming sight as it is, make those first moments of entering your home special. Welcome yourself home in advance. As well, you won’t have to worry as much about needing to clean things up.

It also prompts emptying the suitcase right away. If you have a suitcase full of dirty clothes, souvenirs, and toiletries, having an empty laundry basket and clean surfaces will encourage you to start the laundry and place your souvenirs out in the open.

Another thing, tell people how to reach you and not to reach you.

I believe that vacation should be as disconnected as possible. Yeah texting pictures and calling family might be nice, but save it for later when you return. Instead, enjoy every minute of your trip by keeping your phone on silent, away from you, and without distractions.

It is important that people know how to reach you in case of some emergency but it’s equally important to establish boundaries with your time. Give yourself time away from everyone other than those on your trip. Enjoy the scenery, enjoy your life!

But make sure that you communicate this to people. If you leave town and don’t answer your phone, that is cause for concern. If you leave town letting family and friends know you’ll be unavailable except for emergencies, then you won’t be worrying others.

Last but not least, plan for the worst (and work ahead).

This is a two-for. A quick note, if you can work ahead at all, do it. Save yourself the stress when you return. No one, and I mean no one, wants to return to mountains of work they could have finished before leaving.

Second, plan for the worst as in your baggage got lost. Pack a pair of underwear, socks, and maybe a shirt in your carry-on. I also like to bring smaller sizes of more expensive things like chargers with me. Make sure everything you bring is okay with the TSA. You should check the list of prohibited items anyway because there are some funny things up there.

Long story short, you want to plan ahead as best as possible. Make sure everything medical or weird is labeled. Pack neatly to help out the TSA agents. Prepare yourself to leave without too much stress, and avoidable stress. Get ready to come home to a nice, clean house with a meal ready for you.

Enjoy your trip!

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