Your 3-Phase Plan for a Stress-Free Vacation

Organizing can greatly benefit you before, during and after your vacation. I want to teach you about my “Law of Vacationing,” which means: the more you plan, the more you play, and the less you pay.

Before your vacation: Plan more

To get your vacation planning underway, think about your home security first. More than half of Americans will go on vacation this summer. The FBI says most neighborhoods will experience an increase of 10 percent to 18 percent in home burglaries during July and August. Many of these break-ins  can be prevented by taking some basic security steps.

Here are a few ways to secure your home before you leave.

  • Tell a trusted family member or friend where your important papers are located.
  • Set a timer on a lamp in a visible window so that your house seems lived in while you are gone.
  • Have your newspapers and mail put on vacation hold or ask your neighbor to bring them in for you.
  • Examine your house from the street like you are a nosy neighbor to make sure no valuables (like expensive electronics or artwork) are visible from the street. If a neighbor can see it, you can be sure a burglar can, too.

Once you have secured your home, it’s time to secure your suitcase. These tips will keep all your belongings in order while you’re on the road, and ensure smooth sailing.

  • String necklaces through straws so they don’t get tangled. Thread one end through a drinking straw and fasten it. No more tangles!
  • Pack zip-top baggies, which are great for leaky bottles or wet bathing suits.
  • Bring stain-removing wipes for treating any spots on clothes.
  • Be conservative when deciding what to pack. If you don’t wear it now, you won’t wear it on vacation either.
  • Fill your wallet with lots of single bills. When possible, treat yourself to the services of porters, doormen and valets. It’s an affordable luxury that will take some of the stress out of traveling.
  • Make a copy of everything you have in your wallet (including credit and membership cards) and record the contact phone numbers to report the cards lost or stolen.

During your vacation: Play more

If you want to have fun and play more during your vacation, make time to decide on your mindset or vacation mantra now. Select a word or phrase to serve as your “re-programming companion” during your trip and help guide your attitude and actions. Let me explain.

If I’m visiting family for a wedding, and I know some of the family members will be difficult, a phrase I would select for myself is: “Be of service.” This allows me to get satisfaction during the whole trip. I can open doors for others, serve drinks to those who can’t fetch a beverage for themselves, or pick someone up at the airport who needs a ride (even if I don’t feel like it).

If I didn’t have a phrase like “be of service” in my back pocket, I would find myself coming from a more selfish point of view. I might wonder why a better restaurant wasn’t selected. I might selfishly ask myself why others weren’t coming over to talk to me. I might feel burdened when asked to pick up someone from the airport when I’m on vacation. I have the power to choose my experience — and I can choose fun and play. Other mantra suggestions are:

  • Be curious
  • Let others be right
  • Laugh often
  • Say yes to adventure

After your vacation: Pay less

When I say “pay less,” I’m not talking about finances. What I mean is paying less of a penalty because you took a vacation.

The real secret in my “Law of Vacationing” is finding a way to manage your re-entry back into your life with ease. Many people get the “post-vacation blues,” feeling depressed and overwhelmed when the vacation ends. Anticipating that effect can help prevent it.

The best organizing tip I can give you when returning from vacation is to actually schedule half a day or even a full day for “re-entry.” Instead of feeling overwhelmed, you can unpack, water plants, do laundry, pick up some groceries, return calls and open mail. When your re-entry period is over, you’ll be organized and ready to jump back into real life.

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