Why the ‘Buffer Day’ Is the Secret to a Better Vacation

buffer day universal
Namthip Muanthongthae/Getty Images

Shout-out to my therapist: Recently, I was touting the mental health benefits of an upcoming vacation—a week off—when he, kindly, tacked on a suggestion. “The vacation will be great,” he acknowledged. “But what’s your plan for re-entry?”

That’s when he made his pitch: To maximize the impact of my time off, I needed to factor in a buffer day.

A buffer day works like this… Instead of limiting your vacation sights to the time you’re traveling and physically out of town, make a plan to always (always) schedule a bonus day off for post-vacay acclimation. In other words, a chance to unpack your phone chargers, do laundry and reset.

Here’s the reason it’s necessary: Let’s say you’re like me, always aiming to maximize your time away. On a recent trip to Paris (oh la la), I flew home, landed late night, then woke up and dove right back into the stresses and demands of my job and life very early the next day. Efficient? Yes. But detrimental to the mental health benefits gained by logging off? Absolutely.

After all, travel in itself has its own logistical stress—you’re switching environments and living out of a suitcase and there’s a chaos associated with that. A buffer day counters this and gives you the space to absorb the relaxation and joy you experienced while you were away and get your “house” back in order, so you’re ready to hit the ground running when you resume your routine.

Of course, it’s not always possible to fit a buffer day in due to limited PTO, work demands and more. If that’s the case, you can still invoke a buffer strategy—making sure you have a meeting-free morning upon return, for example.

Bottom line: Do your best to make an effort to cushion your time off so that you actually reap the benefits of the break.

20 Summer Vacation Ideas to Try This Year, Whether You Want a City Escape, Beach Getaway or Nature Retreat

Rachel Bowie Headshot
Rachel Bowie

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...
read full bio