Pre-holiday home routines – to make coming back from a week away easier

Prep your house before you go away, for a 'soft landing' when you return

wooden bench green metal trunk
(Image credit: Simon Bevan/Future PLC)

Coming back to your home after a holiday can be a tricky transition – especially if you left in chaos after last-minute packing and a frantic search for a missing passport. But plan ahead and you can make the return a little less of a bumpy landing. 

We asked experts – including the Ideal Home team – for the pre-holiday jobs and routines they put in place, from cleaning and organising to booking a grocery delivery and keeping on top of home energy costs, that helps them keep their relaxed holiday vibe for as long as possible once they come home.

1. Clean the house

Green staircase with door

(Image credit: Future PLC / Mark Scott)

Doing the housework may not seem the most fun holiday prep, but you'll thank yourself for it when you return to a clean and gleaming home!

'I clean my house top to bottom and have fresh bedding on before we go away so that coming home is a far more pleasurable experience,' agrees Gillian Gudgeon, a member of APDO (Association of Professional Declutters & Organisers) and founder of Restore the Calm

'Unpacking and laundering post-holiday is a pretty big task, so knowing you’ve done everything else in the home will limit the to-do list and the stress.'

If vacuuming is the job that always slips down your to-do list, a robot vacuum could be a worthwhile investment – and it can clean your floors for you while you soak up the sun on holiday.

Gillian Gudgeon Restore the Calm
Gillian Gudgeon

Gillian is a professional organiser working with clients to clear the clutter, possessions and years of accumulated paperwork that can weigh us down mentally and physiologically and leave us feeling drained and overwhelmed. 

2. Clean out the fridge

Inside of fridge with produce organised in plastic boxes

(Image credit: Future PLC)

There's nothing worse than coming home to a smelly fridge full of food that needs to be binned immediately.

'I always make sure any perishable food in the fridge is eaten up before going on holiday,' says Ideal Home's ecommerce editor, Amy Lockwood. 'At the same time, I plan in a food delivery for when I get back so I don’t have to go out shopping straightaway.'

Don't forget to cancel or reschedule automatic deliveries due to turn up while you're away.

'It’s always a good idea to have a pre-holiday checklist, to ensure you cancel deliveries of milk, fruit and veg boxes, and meal boxes. But book to have the delivery re-start close to your arrival home, so you don't have to think about it as soon as you get back,' advises Gillian Gudgeon.

3. Empty the bins

Pull out drawer with bins for recycling

(Image credit: Future PLC)

This is particularly important for the kitchen bin, which will begin to smell if foodstuff is left for too long.

'I put fresh bin bags in with bin powder, as I know I'd forget to add that fragrant essential if I just came home and began clearing the debris from my hand luggage,' says Ideal Home's Assistant Editor, Thea Babbington-Stitt.

If your outdoor bins need to be taken out to the street to be collected, see if you can ask a neighbour to do that for you – it will save overflowing rubbish bins when you return.

4. Turn down the thermostat

living room with heating thermostat and radiator valve

(Image credit: Netatmo)

There's no point spending money on heating an empty home.

'To save energy costs, it can be useful to turn the thermostat down and have the heating come on just once a day – unless it’s winter as no one needs burst pipes, says Gillian Gudgeon from Restore the Calm. 'But bear in mind the time of day you plan to arrive home and how that might impact you.'

If you have a smart heating system, you can set it from wherever you are in the world, so your home is the perfect temperature when you walk in the door after your break.

5. Make up the beds with fresh linen

bedroom with grey curtains with pelment, cream walls and double bed with grey botton headboard and grey throw over white sheets

(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

This was the top tip from everyone we spoke to.

'Make up the beds with fresh bed sheets so they’re all ready to get into when you get back from travelling,' agrees Ideal Home's Amy Lockwood. 'The last thing you want to do after a long journey is remake the bed, and clean sheets feel wonderful to slip into when you're tired.'

Think you're in too much of a rush to get this done before you go away? We've found the fastest way to make a bed (and the method to avoid).

6. Do the laundry before you leave

Open airing cupboard with labelled laundry baskets

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Unless you plan to wash clothes while you're away, you're likely to return home and empty your suitcases straight into the laundry basket.

'I make sure the laundry basket is empty, as know there will be plenty more to do when we unpack from holiday,' agrees Amy Lockwood.

If you don't have time to dry the wet clothes and linen and pack it away before you depart, at least your home is likely to have that 'fresh washing' smell when you return.

8. Mow the lawn and water plants

Exterior of back of house with extension, patio and lawn

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Keen gardeners may not want to return to overgrown grass and wilted flowers. A quick run over the lawn with your mower and a deep soaking from the water butt (or a smart irrigation system) will keep your outdoor space shipshape while you're away. You'll also want to look after your houseplants with our easy tips for watering them while you're on holiday.

'Give the lawn a mow and get the car cleaned. Not only will these things give you less to do when you already have the holiday blues, but they’ll make you feel better (and a bit smug!), when you get home,' says Gillian Gudgeon.

9. Decide the routines you'll take with you

yoga mat with water bottle and houseplants

(Image credit: Dan Duchars/Future PLC)

A holiday is a break from the everyday, but we don't necessarily want to forget all our regular routines.

'As you're preparing for your holiday, think about a healthy aspect of your at-home routine which you can incorporate during your holiday and take it with you,' suggests life coach Helen Jane Campbell

'This may sound counter-intuitive, but if you usually meditate or journal or practice yoga every day, there's no reason why that has to stop when you're away. Activities that help you to maintain a healthy mindset are often portable and keeping one or two up on your trip can contribute to reducing the post-holiday blues.'

And if a little pre-holiday prep can make your return home better, then it's worth the time it takes.

Andrea Childs

Andrea began her journalism career at Ideal Home and is currently Editor of our sister title, Country Homes & Interiors, which celebrates modern country style. Andrea is passionate about colour and how it can transform both our homes and our sense of wellbeing, and has completed The Power of Colour course with the prestigious KLC School of Design. Andrea's career spans interiors magazines, women's lifestyle titles and newspapers. After her first job at Ideal Home, she moved on to women's magazines, Options and Frank. From there it was on to the launch of Red magazine, where she stayed for 10 years and became Assistant Editor. She then shifted into freelancing, and spent 14 years writing for everyone from The Telegraph to The Sunday Times, Livingetc, Stylist and Woman & Home. She was then offered the job as Editor of Country Homes & Interiors, and now combines that role with writing for