1) There is no such thing as jet lag. There’s only the fatigue of having to do so many things at once as soon as you get home, and the impossibility of doing them all and sleeping a reasonable number of hours.
2) Unpack your suitcase as quickly as possible and put it away. That way you’ll forget you ever went anywhere and will return happily to everyday drudgery. It helps if half your suitcase is filled with clothes for the grandchildren, one-third has motorcycle parts for your husband’s friends, and the remainder is dirty laundry that can go straight into the hamper.
3) Go through the mail quickly to see if there is anything urgent, though most likely it’s all bills and ads, none of which is urgent (and the worst that can happen is that your electricity will be cut off). Don’t file anything but your passport during the day, because that wastes time. Wait until 2 a.m. when you can’t sleep (it’s not jet lag, just your need to get everything in order) to do the filing.
4) Before you go away ask a friend or neighbor to put some basic food supplies—bread, milk, cheese—in your refrigerator for your return. That will get you through breakfast and lunch. Defrost anything that’s in the freezer for dinner (ice cream will work too). That way you can wait a whole day before having to make a supermarket run.
5) Let your friends know you’re back but don’t waste time telling them about your trip. Promise to tell them the details when you see them in person. By the time you see them they’ll have forgotten you were away, and you’ll probably have forgotten too.
6) Laundry can wait. If you wash it, you’ll have to fold it and find room for it in the closet. If you’re lucky, the season will have changed while you were away and you’ll have a whole wardrobe of clean clothes waiting for you.
7) If you forgot to stop newspaper delivery for the duration of your trip, don’t bother reading the accumulated papers. The world’s still here, isn’t it?
8 ) If you can’t find something you put away in a “safe place” (like the money we stashed before our last trip and still haven’t found), don’t waste time looking for it. As Nora Ephron once said, if it’s lost you won’t find it, and if it’s not lost, it will turn up.
9) If you work in an office, be sure to bring chocolate for your colleagues. Don’t waste money on anything more exotic. Nothing is appreciated as much as chocolate.
10) Start planning your next trip.
Text and photo copyright 2010 by Esther Hecht. No part of the text or photo may be used without written permission of the author.