You know that feeling when you don’t want your vacation to end? You’ve enjoyed yourself so much and finally have unwound from the stress you left back home, but now you can feel it all creeping back in as you get closer to returning home and to work. To top it off, you’re spending your final day rushing around at the last minute packing your bags to leave. Honestly, it’s my least favorite part of traveling. I have been known to procrastinate packing until it’s so late that I don’t even get four hours of sleep before heading to the airport, which is a big travel mistake that many of us make. When I became a full-time traveler, I realized I had to change this stress-inducing habit! I have found that how you spend your last day in any city sets the tone for your travel home or to your next destination. This is my travel-tested and approved guide to making the most of your last day in any city.
First and foremost, pack early! To avoid the late night packing rush, I start packing either two nights ahead of leaving or in the morning one day before I have to leave. Of course, you’ll still have to gather up toiletries and the clothing that you’ll still be using, but packing in advance helps you keep your relaxed vacation vibes going and ensures you won’t forget anything. I often stay in one place for three weeks or longer, so packing isn’t exactly a fast process. I’ll never forget packing at nine p.m. the night before a six a.m. flight after three months in Hawaii, only to realize that I had a suitcase break and I never replaced it. I was at an off-grid community on the Big Island, and nine p.m. was way too late to do anything about my suitcase situation. So, I had to abandon as many unessential items as possible and strategically pack everything else. I learned the hard way, packing procrastination is a bad habit.
Second, the night before your final day think back to everything you’ve done or wanted to do on your trip. I make a list of all my favorite things that would make for a “perfect” day. Then on my last day, I eat at my favorite restaurant in the city, do any activities that I really loved and want to do just one more time before leaving (pool, beach, yoga class), and whatever else that brought me joy on the trip. I love food and dessert especially! My last day in Siem Reap, Cambodia was filled with French-style yogurt and an almond chocolate croissant from my favorite café, delicious vegetarian food from my favorite restaurant, a foot reflexology massage at the spot I had tried and loved the week before, and of course walking the streets I had walked so many times. I think it was my best last day in any city I had traveled to up to that point.
Third, I go for a walk to soak in the energy and beauty of the city I’m in one more time before leaving. I will often find a nice, quiet spot to sit and do a meditation to express gratitude for the experience I’ve had in this place—visualizing how abundant I am to be here and see the beauty of where I am at. Doing this will continue cultivating relaxation and being in flow for your upcoming departure, as well as feeling immensely grateful for this amazing trip that you’ve created for yourself. I think I like this tip the best because I end up feeling so connected to the place I’m visiting. I soak up anything I might have missed and take one last really good look at everything. This looks different everywhere you go, in the city it’s very stimulating because there’s a lot more action. I’ve spent my last day in rural areas hiking up to scenic overlooks of the town. My favorite was climbing the hill in Lagrasse, France one last time and looking down on the abbey, the river, and just appreciating the architecture of the whole town. I could see vineyards off in the distance, hear the abbey bells ringing out the hour, and it was a magnificent spot in nature to meditate and breathe it all in. It truly makes for a magical experience! Bonus, because I locked it in with meditation, even now I can take myself right back to the smells, temperature, images, and energy of the place anytime I want. (If you want to try this for yourself, check out my guided visualization on how to make your own mental souvenir here.)
Finally, I treat myself to something special. This could be different for everyone, but for me it is often foot reflexology or a nice massage at a place I discovered on my trip. For you it could be getting a decadent dessert you’ve been eyeing the whole trip, buying a fun souvenir, or maybe getting a pedicure. Pamper yourself! You have a day of travel ahead of you and taking care of yourself is the best experience to end on. I often treat myself to many things… Dessert, massage, a yummy coffee, pool time … What can I say? I like the good things in life! It is most often food for me though; however, before I left Malaysia I treated myself to a visit to a Chinese Medicine Woman who I had heard about from many people on my visit. She sounded unreal, as everyone said she could hold her finger on your wrist pulse and tell you everything about your health and how you’re feeling that day. I had to experience it for myself before leaving, and I’m so glad I did! She did exactly what everyone said she would, and I got to experience a traditional cupping treatment (made popular shortly after by Michael Phelps and several other Olympic athletes).
The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my travels is that you can’t have an awesome last day if you’re stressed and rushing around packing at the last minute. Changing how you pack opens the time to do all the other wonderful things to make the most of your last day in any city. This simple change has created so many amazing memories for me and puts me in a much more relaxed state to travel home.
Do you have any tips or tricks you’ve discovered to get the most out of your last vacation day? Comment them below, I’d love to hear them.