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4 Ways I Prepare for a Trip That Make Leaving and Returning Home Simpler & Less Stressful

Traveling can be one of life's greatest joys, but packing and preparing? Not so much. Returning home and trying to get back into the swing of things? Maybe even less so.

Between worrying about forgetting something, getting everywhere on time, and becoming keenly aware to the mess you are leaving behind that you will have to return to, the process can feel stressful.

But it doesn't have to, at least not completely.

One quote that has been particularly influential for me is, "Begin with the end in mind."

I ask myself, "How do I want packing to feel?" "How do I want returning home to feel?" The answer to both of these is simple and peaceful. I do not want to feel stressed, rushed, and I do not want to come home to feel a huge weight of responsibility as soon as I walk through my door. So now our family prepares for trips in a few ways that is intended to make us feel peace when we go and when we come home.

Here are four of the ways we prepare for every trip.

We (the whole family) clean the house before we go.

I mentioned that I do not want to feel the weight of responsibility when we walk through the door. Unpacking is a big enough task, so the last thing I want to return to is unfinished house cleaning tasks. We actually clean the house better prior to a trip than we do on an ordinary week. When we walk in and it feels spacious and tidied, I feel like I can take a big deep breath and feel thankful I am home.

I make our return-home meal plan and grocery list prior to leaving.

I don't know how meal planning feels for you, but walking in the door after being gone, having no idea what we are going to eat feels stressful to me. So I write in my calendar all the meals we will eat for the following week when we get home. I take into consideration that I will likely have a low energy level and chaotic mind as I adjust back so the easier meals are the better. I will write down any fresh food that I need to purchase when we get home, and sometimes we will put in the grocery order the day prior to returning home. Lastly, I try to purchase as much as I can ahead of time in the form of frozen and canned food. I attempt to keep the first week home as simple as possible.

I start packing at least a week in advance.

Again, I do not want to feel rushed. Whatever I can begin packing, I do and I make a list of things that I need to pack the day-of as its own separate list. We do not want to go on a trip feeling anxious, because we can honestly carry that emotion with us the majority of the time so the best way to have a relaxing trip is to begin the trip relaxed.

I create a master, go-to packing list that I can return to again and again.

A quick Google search tells me that most people feel stressed about forgetting something prior to a trip. I wonder what the facts and figures are for someone who has kids?

When I write a new list for every trip, I am raising the odds significantly that I will forget something. I am giving myself a new chance each time to leave something off, however, if I create a list that I reuse, the chances significantly decrease. Especially if I do come to realize that something is not on my master list, I can add it and hopefully never forget it again.

So my point is, I finally stopped writing a new list for every trip. It is time consuming, stressful as I try to remember everything, and honestly, not enjoyable.

You may be thinking to yourself, "But there are different kinds of trips: beach, mountains, cold, hot." I get that. I seriously add EVERYTHING to the list for all kinds of trips. If I don't need it, then I simply cross it out for this trip. It is easier to cross something off than try to remember everything each time.

So, have you ever asked yourself, how do you want to feel when you go on a trip? How do you want to feel when you come home? I encourage you to make a few habits and routines around your trips so that you can enjoy all of that ease and hopefully way less of the stress.

If you would like to continue this discussion, I would love you to join my Facebook Group. Hope you are blessed friends.

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