If you’re like me, when you return from a trip – be it 3 days or 3 weeks – those post-vacation blues hit hard while still on the route home. Sometimes they’re beastly enough to make me think “Geez, if I had just stayed home I wouldn’t have to deal with this.” As if it makes my real life look awful.
Not to say that deters me from ever TAKING a vacation.
The truth is that it’s hard to come down from that high. It’s obnoxious to face reality again (bills, work, eating healthy and other such odious “responsibilities”) after an extended period of “I can do whatever I want!” But as someone who suffers from severe post-holiday depression (every morning I stare in the mirror dejectedly brushing my teeth thinking “A day/week/month ago I was ____”), I have had to devise ways to get myself mentally back on track so that I don’t spoil the glorious experience of taking a vacation with weeks of painful recovery afterward. And in so doing, I have realized that taking trips not only make you appreciate real life more (a wake-up call we all need) but also make you look forward even more to the next one. If vacations weren’t special, they wouldn’t be worth taking, would they?
Here are 6 of the best ways I have found to relive those post-vacation blues and get back on track to enjoying each non-holiday day as it comes :)
1). Remind yourself what sucks about being on vacation
Harsh, but true. Far be it from me to fixate on the negatives of travel, but they do exist and sometimes remembering them makes you so relieved to be home you could weep. Creeping annoyances you conveniently forget about between trips always rear their ugly heads like a bad allergy when you’re back on the road. There’s the obvious ones: living out of a suitcase, sleeping in strange beds, showering in strange showers, time zone-induced sleep disruption, etc. Then there’s the less obvious, but soon apparent: an alarmingly depleted cash stash from dining out 24/7, the oft-grueling task of deciding what to do all day every day (you’ve spent money on this trip, you can’t sit in the hotel the whole time!), blisters from wearing the same 2 pairs of shoes constantly…
- frustration with language barriers
- all your toiletries in those friggin’ tiny containers that run out way faster than you expected
- staring at the same 4 outfits and trying to rearrange them so your photos don’t look like you took them all on the same day
- expensive internet/mobile service
- worrying about what you’re missing at work
- slowly failing each of your carefully self-imposed diet/fitness rules
- grudgingly having to tip everyone in sight
- not being able to wear your old baseball cap, college sweatshirt or comfy boat shoes because you don’t want to look glaringly like a tourist
- the impending doom of having to face reality again
2). Plan a vacation-style reunion
One of my favorite things The Jet-Setters and I do after we get back from a trip is plan a post-adventure meet-up where we crack open a few bottles of wine and make dinner or watch a movie or go somewhere that reminds us of where we’ve just returned from. Examples? Depressed after 2 weeks in Italy, we had a huge pasta night, complete with Chianti, and laughingly reminisced about the trip. Disoriented after 10 days in Moroccan medinas, we went to an outdoor screening of Casablanca at Malibu winery. Get the idea? There’s just something comforting about spending time with the people who’ve shared your recent, fond experience and knowing they are missing it too.
3). Start planning your next trip
Sounds counterintuitive, right? There are few times I feel as broke as I do when I’ve returned from a journey. But getting ideas, information and books about your next destination – even if its 2 years away – forces you to look forward instead of back. Whenever I travel with friends we spend the last evening of the trip selecting our next destination so that by the time I’m winging my way home, I’ve already started picturing myself on a New Zealand vineyard or walking along the Thames.
4). Savor the little things
The internal struggle between relief at being back home and sadness about missing your R&R time will eternally exist. Sure it’s great to be home but you start to forget why REAL fast. So I focus on the little things – like the familiar softness of the sheets on my own bed, being able to stumble into the bathroom early in the morning and have everything right where its supposed to be instead of rummaging through a travel kit and fumbling with miniature versions of everything, having a whole closet of clothes to choose from, not paying for my coffee in the morning because it comes out of that nifty machine in my kitchen, being able to make a phone call without wondering if you’ll have to take out a loan…I swear if you go through one whole day remembering how nice it is to be back in your own life again, you’ll feel that twinge of sadness just a little bit less.
5). Post-vacation projects!
Remember those 500+ photos you took? The video captures on your iPhone? How you haven’t written to Grandma in forever? Maybe not everyone wants to hear your incessant babbling about your trip for hours on end, but you can have a good time reliving it by staying busy, taking snippets of your journey and incorporating them into your real life again.
Print or download all those photos and make slideshows, albums, framed collages or postcards out of ‘em. Write articles about your trip (this keeps me going for months….) or journal about travel in general – what you learned, what you ate, people you met (it amazes me what I forget just days after it happened that make remembering the trip so much richer when I read about it again). Staying occupied is truly one of the best solutions I can find.
And if all else fails….6). Watch Lost
Reminder: you CAN have too much beach/sand/water/boredom/lack of privacy.
Anyway, before you know it, you’ll be winging your way to your next destination, savoring all the more the fact that for the next ___ days, time – and the globe – are all yours.