Travel: how to reduce the pain of coming home from a holiday.

Is there anything worse than the blues you get when you come home from a holiday? You’ve had a week of sun, or excitement, with great friends, or much-needed down time with your family. And then you get home. And you’re left with just a huge pile of washing, a dead pot plant, and a cold shower. If you’ve travelled long-haul it’s even worse. You’ve had to attempt sleep sitting up, with someone else practically in your lap, and the person behind using your seat back to haul his not insignificant ass up and down all night long. Beauty sleep, it is not. Basically, getting home from a holiday is shit.

I once flew back from the Caribbean with my family to the 6am wake-up call of a freak English snowstorm in March. We were in flip-flops and shorts, with sunkissed shoulders and sandy toes. A thirty minute wait for Jason to relocate the car, while the children wailed with the pain of the freezing temperatures was hell. I learned a lot that morning. Call me sad, but the first thing I plan now after booking a flight, is our return. It’s made coming home a lot less stressful!

Travel: how to reduce the pain of coming home from a holiday.

Tips for the end of a holiday.

Before you go:

  • Book convenient parking. Let’s face it, travelling by bendy bus at 3am in the morning from the nether outskirts of an airport car park is for teenagers, not families. Or anyone who doesn’t own a backpack. Besides, long-stay parking is not as cheap as you might think, compared to the much more convenient alternatives. If you book short-stay early enough, it’s often cheaper. But better still are the various airport parking services now available. We used Pink Elephant Parking for a recent Christmas trip to New York, and it made both check-in and return a total breeze. On our way out I was hassled, having left a bag in our previous hotel, and worried about getting all our medical kit through security. Plus, it was my birthday, and the kids had brought balloons. To an airport… If I’d had to worry about where to park, or a shuttle, I think I might have exploded. Instead, we simply swung into our allocated parking spot, handed the keys to the Purple Parking rep, took our ticket, and got on with the next stage of our journey. Return was easy too; a quick text from Newark to confirm our flight arrival time, and we had confirmation that our car would be waiting for us right outside the car park lift. There was even a smile!
Looking fresh despite an overnight flight!
  • Pack for your return. I have a lightweight down coat that scrunches up to nothing and sits at the top of my case ready to grab once we’ve landed. That way we can leave Jamaica in shorts, but switch to cosy mode as soon as we emerge from the airport.
  • In the same vein, throwing a couple of fleecy blankets and some bottled water into the car boot will make the journey home feel a little less harsh.
  • Buy comfort food. Put something tasty in the freezer – a pizza, or a favourite ready-meal – just something that requires minimal preparation and can be cooked up quickly when you’re hungry. My own particular favourite is party canapés. All those mini bites of gorgeousness that really aren’t good for you, but that feel like a treat, will take the sting out of coming home. While you’re at it, stick a bottle of decent wine – or better still bubbles – in the fridge. Too many people add to their post-holiday blues by trying to get healthy too soon. Wait till the next day – or even better, wait till the kids are back at school.
  • Make a deal with a neighbour, or whoever is looking after your house, to put a carton of milk in your fridge the day before you return. Get them to switch the hot water and heating back on too, so that coming home feels more like coming home, and less like going to boot camp.

Before your return flight:

  • Pack all your washing into one bag. If space allows, keep a bag open for the duration of your stay, and use it as a linen basket while you’re away. When you get it home, all you need to do is empty it in front of the washing machine and crack on. Saves lots of time. You can pack toiletries in amongst your dirty things, so that if they spill in transit, you can simply wash it out. Also, you can have a giggle when you fish out a card from airport security advising you that they rifled through your things after check-in!
  • Wear your most comfortable bra. My daughter is fastidious about her clothes and make-up, but on our last day in NYC she committed the ultimate fashion sin of leggings and a sweatshirt. She was unapologetic – she was travelling on a plane that night, and comfort was more important than looks. Clever girl.

On your return:

  • Fish out the warm coat and the fleecy socks from the top of your case. You may feel like death, but at least you’ll be warmed up. Or flip-flops and sunnies if you’re returning to the opposite climate.
Better than an airline breakfast
  • There’s a time and a place for a McDonald’s breakfast, and driving out of the airport is it. I’ve never seen an airport that didn’t have the golden arches on the exit road. Forget the airport shops – the croissants are always stale, granola isn’t going to cut it, and there’s milk in the fridge (see point above). You need a bacon and egg McMuffin, and ideally hash browns. The only possible reason to make an airport purchase is if you see a Costa on your way out. Decent coffee is an imperative after the watery crap you’ve had on the flight.
  • It’s a pain, but it’s a one-off, and will save you time the next time you pack: as you unpack, make a list of everything you used while you were away. Omit anything that came home unused. Use this as a packing list for your next similar trip. I have a list for medical kit, one for ski trips, and one for beach holidays. Packing is now much simpler than it used to be.

Do you have any tips for making coming home from a holiday feel easier?

Pink Elephant Parking lowdown:

Pink Elephant have a range of services, from Park and Ride, to a Meet and Greet chauffeur. We had a complimentary Meet and Greet service from Heathrow airport, for the purposes of review. Visit the Pink Elephant website for more details and to book. You can get updates for Pink Elephant on Twitter, and Facebook too.

*Breakfast image courtesy of McDonald’s UK.

For tips from seasoned travellers on combatting the post-holiday blues, read this post on Space In Your Case.

Pin our tips for later:

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8 thoughts on “Travel: how to reduce the pain of coming home from a holiday.”

  1. Some great tips there. I always aim to try and get the house tidy and organised (well as much as it ever does) before going then it’s nice to come back to.

  2. Some top tips there! We’ve sort of organised it so that when we go on holiday we stay in an apartment or villa or similar, which has a washing machine. The bliss at knowing that what you unpack is clean and can just be put away when you get home is unbelievable!
    We also try to do something nice on the day we return, if we can, if we have the energy. Something like a trip to the cinema or a play area the kids love makes life back at home seem a little less ‘Meh.’

    • Yes! When we went to Barbados, we were lucky enough to have a housekeeper and she washed all our stuff every day – even swimwear! It was an absolute treat, and made the unpacking much simpler. Nice idea to go out too – a good distraction and a good way to keep everyone awake until the clock says it’s time to do what the body wants!

  3. Great tip about making a list for next time as you unpack. Would never have thought to do this! We have a new rule when we ever go on holiday now (which is usually cottage breaks in the UK) and that is to clean and tidy before we leave the house. There is nothing worse than coming back to a house that looks like you’ve been broken into by vandals while you were away. So all the beds are changed, towels washed, rooms vacuumed and everything generally tidied before we go. Can be a bit of an inconvenience but makes coming home so much nicer! x

    • I do try to do this, and yes it’s a brilliant tip – coming back to a relaxing, tidy house instantly lessens the chore element of being at home. Wish I had the time to do it properly though! Luckily I have a lady who keeps an eye on our house, looks after the pets and cleans when I ask her to, so I never come home to complete chaos – just the washing!

  4. Hello Helen, after coming from holidays we become lazy and unfit. So it needs a proper exercise and activities to relive from body pain. Sometimes it may be dangerous for our health. Thanks!


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