Vacation over? Make re-entry easier
It's hard to return to reality after a trip. Here are a few ideas to help you hit your frugal stride.
Here's how I handle the transition back:
I know it's going to happen, so I set myself up for success before heading to the airport. If you have this problem too, maybe one or more of these tactics will help.
Nourish yourself. Take healthy snacks for the plane (and for after you land). Drink water before, during and after the flight. Low blood sugar and/or a post-flight headache could leave you vulnerable to impulse purchases either at the airport (ooohhh, a neck pillow!) or on the way home.
Have exact change. Taking the train or bus? Make sure you have the right funds lest you have to break a $20 at the newsstand. Cabbing it home? You'll want singles (or maybe some dollar coins?) as well as larger bills: If the tip is six or seven bucks, you'll be able to count out that amount vs. handing over two $5 bills. (Some people find it difficult to ask for change.)
- Bing: How much should you tip?
Make meals easy. My cupboards always hold tuna, beans, good-quality soup, noodles, pasta sauce, oatmeal, powdered milk, and canned and dried fruit. In the fridge and freezer are bread, cheese, salsa, tortillas and vegetables. This time around the freezer also held leftover pasta from my "three meals plus snacks for $4 a day" experiment for MSN Money.
Before you go on vacation, stock up on a few nonperishables, or choose a couple of frozen items (whether that's 10-for-$10 pizza or a fancier frozen feast from the likes of Trader Joe's is up to you). These basics will provide dinner that night and/or tide you over until you can get to the store for fresh supplies. That means no temptation/excuse to order in, and you won't have to go food shopping on an empty stomach.
Stay off the Internet. Don't let the first few hours at home be a blur of surfing. Get yourself back into daily-life mode by taking care of business. Water the plants, make a grocery list, pick out your work clothes if you have to go in the next day. Open the mail and note which bills are due.
Focus on how good it is to be home -- and how good it is to get back to your normal routines. Normal as in "not buying three meals out daily and paying someone to make my bed."
Listen to your body. If you've had a long drive or flight, you're probably not firing on all cylinders. Once you've dumped your bags and opened the windows for some fresh air, take time to decompress. A few gentle stretches will ease the travel aches. Have something to eat and drink. Take a bath or shower, depending on whether you need to be relaxed enough to sleep or invigorated enough to stay awake for the rest of the evening.
Again: A fed, hydrated, healthier-feeling you is less likely to take pricey shortcuts like ordering in, or to immediately make plans to go out in an attempt to keep that holiday feeling alive.
Remember: The cannier you are with money the sooner you can go on another trip, or at least pay someone to make your bed. (How much will your savings grow?)
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