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How to make the most of your holiday

The days are getting longer, the sun is shining and our thoughts will soon be turning to summer holidays. Tilo Flache, The ClutterMeister, shares his thoughts on getting the most out of your travels… and being organised, of course!

Travelling is all about experiencing things differently

Living life quietly in your home is a lovely state of affairs, but there is a danger of getting stuck in routines. This is not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but getting into the habit of always having things your way can prevent you from moving forward and applying changes when it becomes obvious that your way no longer works to your best advantage.

This holds true as much for your physical environment at home or at work, as it does for your mental agility. Doing the same thing, the same way, at the same time gets engrained into your being and occasionally needs shaking up to see things from another angle. That’s what a vacation is for!

Being exposed to new influences, be they different ways of living, meeting different people, staying in a different space for a while, will ideally show you things and spawn ideas that you never knew you had in you. It may take a moment to unchain your mind from your daily routine, but it is worth it.

One good way to ensure that you make the most of your trip is to disconnect your mind from home BEFORE you even leave. It is a good idea to leave as much of your regular life behind as you can: after all, you are on a vacation! That not only means that you want to take a day or two to transition from a busy work life to a more relaxed state of being before you leave, but also to separate the necessary from the normal and pack your bags accordingly.

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It’s not so much what you take with you, but what you pick up on the way

What does that mean? For one thing, don’t start from the assumption that you will need the same things on your trip that you would have at arm’s length when you are at home. Make room in your mind to quickly adapt to the circumstances you find at your destination, or during your journey.

Part of that process is to define what you expect from your holiday: is it interaction with others, peace and quiet, exposure to culture, a fortnight of partying? This knowledge will impact what you really need to pack. Of course, you’ll need to pack the basics, but does it really matter if you have a coordinated wardrobe for a beach holiday? Is it important to have a pretty shirt to wear just in case you enter a high-class establishment while hiking through the backwater jungles of Ecuador?

Give yourself the freedom to be different from the person you are at home and don’t get too upset over the thought that you might have wanted another piece of clothing you left at home. Work with what you have, and if all fails, add something local to your wardrobe; a small accessory may just make all the difference. Any such thing can even serve as a practical souvenir in the long run (hint!).

Similar consideration should be given to anything else you take with you besides your clothes: is it really necessary to take all those electronic devices? How many books are you really likely to read? How many toys does your child really need on the road? How much stuff can you leave behind rather than take just in case it might turn out to be useful? Make your choices before you leave and do not leave them for later.

Taking less luggage with you and adjusting your mind to stick with ‘what I’ve got’ rather than ‘what I want/need’ is ultimately the most wonderful start of a holiday. It’s an instant switch from daily routine to the exceptional state of holiday spirit. You’ll be more prepared to experience properly what’s going on around you, to relax and to enjoy your time away from it all. You’ll also be more receptive to noticing things around you and considering incorporating them into your life, perhaps bringing a positive change to your daily routine.

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Post-travel check-in with yourself

Many of us pack for all eventualities, and return with a suitcase half full of unused clothes, while at the same time having worn the hell out of that one pair of shorts because they were comfy. What does that tell you? You didn’t pack for the occasion after all!

It may feel strange, and you may not think you want to do this, but maybe you can spend 10 minutes looking at the items in your luggage after you return. That could simply take the form of you laying out all the items in your luggage to two sides: ‘used’ and ‘unused’, and taking a picture of the arrangement for future reference and as a reminder of where you may have gone wrong. Take note of what you used and what you didn’t. Maybe even ask yourself why you didn’t.

If anything, packing for a holiday is an exercise in avoiding any thought of ‘just in case’: ‘Maybe I’ll need this’ is the worst advisor for holiday packing, and even worse a notion for keeping things in your home. Learning how to overcome this urge on a vacation might just be the highway to happiness when it comes to stop cluttering up your attic, your garage, your cupboards…

Returning home also gives you a fresh perspective on what you have got used to, and you may end up wanting to make some changes to your home. By all means: go ahead!

If Tilo’s post has inspired you to get organised before your holidays, you can find your local professional organiser here.