The First Thing You Should Do When You Get Back from Vacation

published Jun 9, 2023
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overhead shot of a messy suitcase on a bed with blue and white checkered sheets and person going through the clothes in suitcase
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

My great aunt Nanie was half-Irish and half-Dutch and those Dutch orderliness genes were strong. She also loved to travel. One afternoon, while my mother and I sat at the round table in Nanie’s spotless but delightful breakfast room, she said something that brought Nanie’s travel habits and tidiness together…

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She told me that whenever Nanie got back from a trip (which she must have just done since my mother was commenting on it), she emptied her suitcase right away into the washer and immediately started that load of travel laundry.

And now I do the same! When I do the laundry right away, I don’t get stuck in re-entry inertia with a suitcase clogging up our bedroom for a week or more. Instead, it feels like embracing the good, easy things of being home—like having a washing machine down the hall and a place where I can put my suitcase away rather than live out of it.

Maybe this post-vacation practice was a small, symbolic way of living fully in the present, with neither the nagging of undone tasks or the melancholy of ordinary days clouding right-now life. If vacation re-entry can be this peaceful, Nanie’s laundry tip is surely a gift for us all.

This post was originally published on Apartment Therapy. Read it there: My Great Aunt’s Laundry Trick Makes Coming Back From Vacation Painless