How to Make a Return from Vacation Pain-Free (Almost)

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Yesterday was our return from vacation after a week-long trip to the Bahamas and Cuba. After being gone for that long, there are always the inevitable household tasks to take care of before the next business trip and regular life kicks in again soon.

  • Is there anything important in that giant stack of mail on the hallway table?
  • The list of errands to be run is long and yet weekend hours are short.
  • Our laundry is dirty and we are somehow out of detergent.

We’ve all been there. But luckily, advance planning, a little organization, and a few tech tools can help. Here are some of the technologies we’ve deployed that made our return from vacation and back to the normal life a bit easier.

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US Postal Service – Informed Delivery

Mail used to be a major stressor when traveling. Coming home to a large pile of envelopes to open is never fun, especially when you don’t know what to expect.

Now we are able to virtually “check the mail” from anywhere with USPS Informed Delivery.  You can sign up to get a scan of daily mail via email so sorting mail is easier once you get home.

We could find out if items we were expecting had arrived. Also, we could easily delegate urgent items remotely if necessary. Its easier to virtually toss junk mail when the housesitter brings it in the house.

The service has rolled out to most of the United States now.  You can check the USPS Informed Delivery link to see if your ZIP code has the service yet.

Hub – Household Organization App

We’ve written about the Hub app before because it has become indispensable for maintaining the organization in our household.  When dealing with all the travel chaos around us, the app helps us keep track of our common task lists, grocery lists, and schedules.  Yesterday it helped with the return from vacation because we were able to make our to-do lists on the way home.  Then we were able to quickly divide up some of the errands to be run and efficiently tackle tasks today.  With a divide and conquer strategy, we saved time by grouping things together and planning a way to get everything done quickly.

Amazon Dash Buttons

Returning from vacation almost always means laundry. Of course, we were out of detergent so I used the really cool Amazon Dash Button to order more. If you’re not familiar with them, you get the buttons (each about the size of a pack of gum) from Amazon for a common household product that you regularly replenish. When you need something, you just push the button and Amazon Prime delivers it.

There are Amazon Dash Buttons for dozens of common branded items – from soap to coffee, batteries to toaster pastries.  You can put the buttons right next to where the item is stored in your pantry or cabinet.  Then train everyone in the house to push the button if they take the last of any item so that it gets ordered for replenishment.

So cool. It is the one place I can walk around the house intentionally “pushing buttons”.  Better yet, I run no risk of getting in trouble with Jennifer for doing so!

Our return from vacation has been much smoother today thanks to these three technologies. We look forward to finding more new items to try the next time that we travel.


About Jim Ogden

Jim is an information technology strategy consultant who has traveled extensively for client projects. Despite having logged many miles for business, it is the personal travel he most values. When traveling for pleasure, Jim prefers to seek out the authentic soul of the places he visits. His favorite travel memories are not of the tourist-friendly areas but rather the places off the beaten-path. As an expat and foodie, Jim brings a perspective of writing based on maximizing the experience of traveling.

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