How to Help the Post-Vacation Blues
You spend weeks, months, years even planning the perfect vacation. You get all your hotels, flights, excursions lined up, passports good and off you go. It’s glorious, it’s wonderful – it’s everything you wanted it to be (probably because I planned it for you ;)) and then the dreadful happens…you have to come home.
When I returned after living in Ireland I felt a heaviness around how much I missed the country, the friends I had made, and most importantly, the adventure. So how does one keep from getting too down after having an awesome trip?
I’m terrible at journaling, but when I travel I try really hard. When you journal, try to do more than just jot notes (that’s often where my journals end up unfortunately) – focus in on how you felt and key memorable moments. When you go back to those journals when you get home, you’ll not only be reminded of where you went and what you did, but more importantly, how you felt, giving you a jolt of nostalgic adventure that will help to fill your soul.
As I was preparing to come home from Ireland I opened my journal and on the left hand side I wrote a list of all the things I would miss - my friends, using my backpacking backpack to go grocery shopping, the Irish accent. But on the right hand side I wrote a list of all the things I missed from home that I was looking forward to. It helped me say you know, there are all these things I’m leaving behind, but look at all these things I miss now that will return - my bed, my family, my chiropractor...clamato juice. It helped me find a place of balance.
Save your ticket stubs
One of my favourite souvenirs from my trips are the various tickets, postcards, and random freebies I pick up along the way. Entrance tickets to concerts, plays, landmarks etc. I keep. Sometimes Tourist Offices have free postcards. Metro maps. All of it, I hang on to. Then you can get creative:
*create a gallery on your wall
*buy a special Shadow Box to put them all in
*have a special “travel box” that everything goes in
*upcycle furniture and decoupage it with your memorabilia
There are so many ways to keep those items in a way that’s meaningful.
As you can probably tell from my Instagram and my website, I love taking photographs. But even more than taking them, I love playing around with editing them. Some of my favourites I’ve had printed into 4x4s or 4x6s, some I’ve used as my laptop or phone backgrounds and I highly recommend printing off your favourite(s) into larger prints to create pieces of art. A gallery wall with those photos along with your ticket stubs is a great cohesive project that you can admire daily and remind you of your travels.
Write a letter to yourself
Cheesy? Maybe. But imagine coming home and receiving a letter or postcard from yourself while you were traveling with reminders, anecdotes and wisdom to impart to you when you get home. Complete with that beautiful air mail sticker and foreign stamp.
Properly prep for your trip
Prep for your trip by cleaning your house. That way when you come home, your house is ready for you with open and welcoming arms. If you come home to a house in upheaval, you may feel an increased sense of dissatisfaction with your every day life because it’s not living up to the perfection of the hotels or resorts you were at. It also means you have less “work” to do when you get home.
Properly prep *mentally* for your trip.
The thing that is most bittersweet about travel for me is that you never get to see everything. There will be sites, museums, pubs, restaurants, etc. that you just won’t have the time, money, ability or any combination therein to visit. And that’s ok. No trip will see it all. And while it can be sad that you won’t get to see and do everything you want to all the time, it means it’s there for another time - new places to see and new things to do that keep destinations fresh for future visits. For me, I mentally prep that I won’t get to everything on my list and when opportunities are lost I just say to myself “next time Dorina” and I let go. Being prepared for the likelihood you’ll have to say “next time” makes letting go so much easier.
Take extra time off
Taking an extra day or two off from work when you get home can do wonders to reducing the post-vacation blues that can sneak it’s way into your life. This from someone who stepped off a plane from Reykjavik at 6pm after 2 weeks in Europe and was up at 6am the next day for work. Terrible, terrible mistake Dorina. That extra time helps you re-balance after jet lag and helps give you time to get “life” back on schedule by stocking back up on groceries, doing laundry or having a post vacation beer at home. It will also increase your productivity and output at work when you return (instead of spending half the week wishing you had a hammock under your desk to take a nap in. No, just me?)
On average your body needs one day for every hour of time difference to realign itself. Be kind to yourself and give a little extra time to help your body out.
Find a way to share
One of the best things about traveling is getting to share your stories and photos. I recommend saving some of your photos to post on Social Media for AFTER you get home. Set up coffee dates with friends so you can talk about your trip. If you don’t have one already, set up an Instagram account. Post your photos and look at others photos from the same places. Engage with those who post and respond to folks you leave comments on your photos.
Start planning your next trip
I LOVE planning travel (makes sense then I would choose Travel as a professional occupation!) and I find that I’m happiest when I have a trip on the horizon. And I always have a trip on the horizon. Sometimes two. I find it helps me to keep excited about what is to come, even if that trip is years off. If you really miss where you just came home from, choose it as your next trip. I spent three years homesick for Ireland, so I chose to go back and spend a month backpacking and finding the closure I needed from ending a trip long before I was ready. It was the best decision I have ever made, even though it came at the expense of heading to Southeast Asia.
Keep taking your medications
For many folks, prescribed medications are a necessity to help with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. If you’re one of these people, it’s key that you maintain your medication regimen while away, no matter the length of your trip and once you return home. Failure to do so can throw your system way out of whack and make those normal and healthy vacation blues turn into a much deeper and more concerning issue.
There is something about travel that touches and fills our spirits, and it’s normal for the blues to kick in when it is time to end our trips. But when we’re mindful we can help mitigate the impact those blues can have.