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.

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Clever hacks for making the return trip from a holiday much less painful. Click through for solutions to airport stress, and easing the pain of returning from a dream holiday.

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