Three Ways to Get Back to Work After Vacation

It's hard to return home after vacation // (c) 2011 kozumel

I love traveling with my kids – what I don’t love is going back to work after vacation. Traveling with children is a rewarding experience for me. I love telling my daughters about all of the new places we are traveling to and seeing the awe and wonder on their faces when they see amazing new things, but heading home is also a taxing chore and returning to work after a family vacation is – let’s be honest – not really something anyone can get excited about. So, I plotted out some great ways to get back into the swing of things…however, I admit I don’t always practice what I preach.

Probably one of the most obvious ways to get back to work after a vacation is to come home early. This is definitely something that I rarely practice. I’m the type of parent who returns on Christmas Eve without preparing for Christmas Day in advance. However, I always wish that I could be the responsible parent and return at least a day – or even a few hours – before such momentous occasions like the first day of school. I will say, if you do return early and use your time wisely to grocery shop, do laundry, prepare school lunches; it really makes it easier for everyone in the family to get back into the swing of things – and I, as a mom, would feel way less guilty.

While my first tip is something I rarely do, tip number two is something that I always do – separate my packing. If I am a totally disorganized parent, I am truly an organized traveler, which may account for bad habit number one. When returning from a trip, I always organize my bags so that they can be easily unpacked. I put all of my computer cords into a bag that can be dropped directly into our “technology corner” at home (we don’t have room for an office); I separate out all of my dirty clothes so that they can easily be dropped into the washer (I am the annoying person who travels with a big bag); I put belts, shoes and accessories together so that they can easily be stowed in their proper drawers upon my return. By doing this, I eliminate time unpacking and reorganizing, and I also limit the amount of stuff that trickles out of my suitcase and is misplaced around the house – most likely in my children’s rooms.

The third thing that I recommend is to never to leave the house dirty. This is something that I do about 50 percent of the time – remember, I am a disorganized parent. I will say, though, that when my house is neat and tidy upon my return, the chance that I unpack, put all of my things away and return to my normal habits is way better than if I leave my house untidy. Plus, I have the added bonus of knowing that if we someone does rob us, they probably won’t be able to find anything either.

The Weltenburg Abbey: A Favorite Excursion

Toes in the Danube at the Weltentburg Abbey
Toes in the Danube // (c) 2011 Janeen Christoff

The Weltenburg Abbey, an optional excursion on my recent Viking River Cruise, was one of my favorite stops during the cruise — and not just because of the beer (The Weltenburg Abbey is home to one of the oldest breweries in the world). Located along the Danube Gorge, the abbey was founded in approximately 620 A.D. and is believed to be the oldest in Bavaria. The highlight is the Baroque-style abbey church as well as the courtyard beer garden. But there is also a pebble beach along the Danube where many local Germans and visitors go for a swim. I couldn’t help but put my feet in during our visit and found the water cool and refreshing. Had I known, I would definitely have brought my swimsuit!

Tasting beer at the Weltenburg Abbey
Tasting beer at the Weltenburg Abbey // (c) 2011

At the end of the visit, a ferry takes visitors through the beautiful gorge on a narrated boat ride to Kelheim. After the ride through the gorge, we made an unscheduled stop at the nearby Hall of Liberation, which is also worthy of a visit and, if time allows, the Kelheim district makes a nice stroll. Not far from the town, our boat picked us up and we continued up the Danube.

Cruising Through Austria

Onboard the Viking Prestige, we just left Austria en route to Passau, Germany. The highlights of the cruise include meeting one of my magazine’s interns near Cathedral Square in Vienna, an evening concert of classical music in a palace and the fabulous onboard programming by Viking’s program director, Marek.

One of the other things that I did in Vienna was to walk along the canal, which is an offshoot of the Danube River. There were a ton of cool bars including a beach bar with tightrope walking, a bar with a swimming pool floating in the river and a ton of cool graffiti.

Baroque tea set at the Melk Abby // (c) 2011 Janeen Christoff
Baroque tea set at the Melk Abby // (c) 2011 Janeen Christoff

Of course, in Melk, you can’t miss the Benedictine Abby. It is enormous and dominates the tiny town of Melk, which it is perched above. Inside the abby, there is a surprisingly modern museum featuring some of the most beautiful displays of artifacts that I have ever seen. The abby is a must-see and also a World Heritage Site. It was under restoration for about 30 years, but is now fully opened. Apart from the museum, the li

Europe River Cruise Onbaord Viking Prestige

Just leaving Budapest on the Viking Prestige for my Europe river cruise. We are sailing to Visegrad to pick up the morning’s tour group. I stayed behind to enjoy the scenic Danube and took some really pretty photos. Looking forward to our next stop, Vienna! I am going to do some research tonight on what to do. I think I want to do something a little offbeat if there is time. If anyone has suggestions, let me know!

Okanagan Valley Itinerary

Tickleberry's Ice Cream in the Okanagan Valley
Tickleberry's Ice Cream in the Okanagan Valley

For those headed to the Okanagan Valley, my family and I had the pleasure of visiting this summer, and I can definitely recommend this Eastern B.C. destination to families. With fun for all ages, from old-time train rides to homemade ice cream parlors, B.C.’s wine region is not just a playground for adults. Children will definitely find plenty to discover in the valley. If you have a budding foodie on your hands, Poplar Grove Cheese is the place to be. Curb your kids’ sweet teeth with a stop at Tickleberry’s Ice Cream and seek out adventure on the KVR railway.

For a full itinerary of what to do and where to be in the Okanagan Valley, check out my article at