Gearing Up to Go “Back Home”: A Mental and Physical Checklist

My husband Tyler and I are getting ready to take our 17-month-old daughter to my hometown. We’ll see lots of family and go to some of my favorite places. This is my daughter’s third trip, my husband’s 10th-15th, and probably my billionth/25th-ish. Somehow, each time it seems to get harder to prepare my mind and my suitcase.

Dramatically soaking in hometown.

I left that town the summer after high school graduation which means in one more year I’ll officially have lived away longer than I lived there. It’s a big deal for me to go back “home” and I felt that I had to write about it.

The original post was racking up quite a word count with a lot of serious sentiment about leaving your hometown, being away from family, and still being confident in your decision to not move back especially after creating a new little family member. Well, long story short I can miss my family AND still know I’m making the right choice to live and raise my daughter where we are. Not wanting to head into this trip all melancholy, I’ve decided I’d rather take a more light-hearted approach to this post.

If this was a serious post I wouldn’t be able to highlight that Tyler (who never naps) can’t hang on these trips.

For all of the transplants heading home for a quick summer holiday, here is how to over-prepare for four days and three nights.

To Do

  1. Clean the entire house. Do every piece of laundry, feel like you have to finish all lingering projects, and get into the best shape of your life. Start this one week before you leave.
  2. Buy luggage for the third time in as many trips and don’t get your hopes up that it will survive. Contrary to reason, your $20 Walmart set from 16 years ago just now kicked the bucket, but the piece of luggage you bought that cost more than a plane ticket was shredded in one trip. The overpriced one you had to buy at LAX to get your stuff home lasted exactly one trip after that. Back to cheap luggage for you.
  3. Plan all outdoor activities for your trip. This will ensure the entire forecast is scattered thunderstorms.
  4. Schedule to see everyone at the same time (and play completely dumb about knowing who is even on speaking terms anymore). Everyone is exactly as you left them when you moved away 17 years ago and why are they still Facebook friends if not?
  5. Reschedule your therapy sessions. Preferably a few days prior to and then immediately following your trip. You need some mantras and time to practice them before you go. See if your airport ride home can make a quick one-hour stop there afterwards.
Goodbye, cheap carry-on. Please reincarnate your everlasting spirit into my new suitcase.

To Pack

  1. Every holiday and birthday gift you never got around to sending all year. Tell the recipient (unconvincingly) that you really wanted to see them open it in person and won’t it be nice to pull out new winter gloves in four or five months.
  2. A jacket in July. It’s ten degrees warmer outside there and as humid as the dickens, so naturally everyone’s AC kicks on full blast if it gets above 70.
  3. Tums. You are not going to make good choices in the food department. What foods do you miss from your childhood? Is it a salad? Doubtful.
  4. Your best four outfits… and then realize that these are the same four outfits you pack every single time. Oh well, what are you going to do? Run into people from high school in your second best four outfits. Haha, no.
  5. All the guilt about moving away. All the expectations that nothing there has changed. All the anticipation that every family dilemma will be resolved by being there. All the worry that you’ll want to move back, and then some more guilt that you won’t. Then leave all of that there when you come home because you need room to bring back your favorite root beer, bags of beans from your favorite coffee shop, and a few boxes of matches for camping from the restaurant where your graduation dinner was held. (You can’t smoke in restaurants anymore, why do they still have those?!)
Is it even a trip home if you don’t take a picture of the most photographed spot in town?

Really, Though

  1. Remember that this is your trip. It’s about what you want to do and who you want to (and have time to) see. Everyone else lives there and can go wherever they want the other 361 days of the year that you aren’t there. If they want more time with you, I’m sure they know where you live.
  2. You’ll be back! As much as you may want to, don’t feel like you have to see every single person and hit up every single frozen custard place (more that second thing than the first). Everything will be there when you come back and if not you probably dodged a health code violation-related bullet. (Obviously always make time for grandparents.)
  3. Plan some people time that isn’t paired to an activity. It’s an easy trap to see each day as three or four time slots you can fill with activities and meals you can do with your people. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to really feel like you got that quality time you traveled for when you’re half-focused on the novelty of different teams on the bar TV or keeping score for put-put. Instead, plan to just hang out. Get delivery. Turn off the TV. Put your phone on silent and out of eye shot. This will be the time that fills your bucket until the next trip.
I don’t know about yours, but my hometown makes something called Gooey Butter Cake. I’ll be opting for the extra strength Tums.

Safe travels, everyone, physically and mentally!

3 Replies to “Gearing Up to Go “Back Home”: A Mental and Physical Checklist”

  1. Funny enough, I don’t think I have any pictures taken at the Main Street Gazebo. Maybe I should add that to my bucket list.

    1. That is surprising! I think we’re going to go all in and make it a yearly thing.

  2. Oh yes, must make space for those delicious beans.

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