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August 20, 2014

The Traveler’s Tales, Part 3: Re-entry Procedures

The LeftoversA lot of you took or are in the process of taking some fantastic summer vacations. Many of you are also traveling to fellowship programs, great PD opportunities or to see your families. There is a lot of literature around packing well, planning for trips, and so on, but there is very little out there on re-integration. You know…back to life, back to reality…

As I stared at our huge stack of vacation laundry, I started thinking of some of the smarter things I did to help me and my family “re-enter” after a week of vacation. I’ve started doing some of these things after work travel, too.

  • Quarantine the laundry. Or better yet, come home with clean clothes. Do you travel with a laundry bag? I now do. Then, I can just dump it right into the hamper when I get home. And if I’m on vacation in a place with a washer/dryer, it’s worth running a few loads before leaving so we come home with some clean clothes.
  • Meal plan for when you return from vacation—and figure out a way to have food in the fridge. I knew we would come home to a totally empty refrigerator. If you’ve ever faced a hungry preschooler and toddler waiting for a pot of macaroni and cheese to finish boiling, you know you need a plan. So, I paid our cat-sitter to do one run to the grocery store at the end of our vacation.
  • Plan a “transition” night for the first night of your return. Coming home from a trip can feel like a huge smack in the face, especially if you were on vacation. My husband and I saved an episode of The Leftovers, a new HBO series that we had DVR’d, for the night of our return.
  • Block a few hours for the morning you return to work to settle in and unbury. I try to block off a half-day if I can so I don’t feel pressure to check email or spend the night before return in full work mode. And if you can train your colleagues to save up all their email so you get ONE big email from each team member, more power to you. More on that in my upcoming book, The Together Leader.
  • Leave a pair of clean PJs under your pillow. This is my new favorite trick. I often get home at midnight, or worse, from a work trip, and there is nothing worse than turning on a light and waking up your husband as you fumble for PJs. So, before you leave, tuck away your sleeping gear, so you don’t have to root around in the wee hours.

What about you? Do you have any vacation re-entry procedures you want to share with us?

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