I started my morning walk towards the office and I couldn’t help but pretend that I was meandering through Diagon Alley. Just a few days ago I was in Edinburgh, Scotland, mesmerized by the narrowly curved, cobblestone streets lined with historical buildings.
As I started wondering if I was going to catch a glimpse of Nearly Headless Nick (as I’m writing this, I’m muttering to myself “Nearly headless, how can you be nearly headless?”) when all of a sudden, a woman dressed in a full Hillary power suit shouldered me back into reality.
“Move outta the way” she grunted, holding a Venti-sized coffee in one hand and her cell phone in the other.
Before I could even process what happened, my ears were overwhelmed by the furious honking of a cab driver and the screaming rage of a cyclist.
“Learn how to DRIVE!” he barked.
“Deep breaths,” I said to myself. “I’ve still got my vacation zen.”
Post-travel can be tough to ease back into your normal routine. Usually, I try to hold onto my “vacation zen” for as long as possible, a random word I coined to describe my mindset for those first few days when I return to reality.
You know, when your brain still feels like jello and you think everything in the city is peaceful? You smile at strangers, the streetcar driver, dirty pigeons, rabid squirrels…really anyone who makes eye contact with you because, well, you’re just high on life.
And nothing can ruin this state of inner peace for you. Absolutely nothing…right?
Here are 3 of my tips on how to ease yourself back into your real life and get rid of those pesky post-travel blues.
1. Being Grateful
It’s the truth- coming back after a week of swimming with killer whales (can people do this?), daily routine tasks become a bit hard to accomplish. If you were actually looking forward to discussing client deliverables upon your return, you probably should have gone on a better trip.
However post-travel, I try to remember to be grateful that I had the financial resources and that I am healthy enough to explore the world. I recognize that I had the privilege to visit another country, immerse myself in their culture and gain new experiences.
So before complaining about how you #dontwannawork, take a second to remember that not everyone had the opportunity to jet set and take selfies with Free Willy.
Note: If you were born before 1993, I have some sad news about Keiko. If you were born after 1993, I suggest you go to Blockbuster, rent the VHS and watch until you can cry no more.
2. Finding Perspective
What were you doing two days before your trip?
I’m guessing that you were frantically wrapping up that report, getting frustrated with passive aggressive emails, and stressing about having not yet packed.
Personally, I think the best way to see if your vacation really did its job is to check your perspective on life when you return.
Here’s a little story.
Before I left for my trip to Cambodia, I was caught up in the details of my life just like any other person.
“Why aren’t you loading?!” I would angrily yell at my AppleTV.
However, after having traveled this beautiful country, I did gain a deeper appreciation for my life back home and my perspective on life changed for the better.
For example, I was thankful for basic amenities, like how I had access to a working toilet and running water.
I also became more patient. I didn’t feel the need to message a friend telling them how “annoying” it was whenever my bus came late. (Ever tried taking the train in South East Asia? Expect to wait a few hours for delays and for the bus to come when the driver feels like it.)
Even if you went to a five-star, all-inclusive resort in Cuba, coming back should hopefully make you feel more relaxed and help you realize to not sweat the small stuff.
It’s what I like to call keeping my “vacation zen” for as long as possible.
3. Balancing All The Noise
What’s the best part of traveling?
If you were thinking “Umm I’ll get tons of new pictures to post on my Instagram?” then I really don’t think you can sit with us. (And this is coming from someone who posts pictures of their power smoothies on a weekly basis.)
Being on vacation means you’ve literally VACATED your real life, and transported yourself into a land where you can focus less on your phone and enjoy your experiences.
Post-travel you might be shocked to see millions of notifications come streaming through.
So take a deep breath and make a decision. A decision to trim all the excess noise in your life when you return so you can focus on the important things that make you happy.
Too many messages on WhatsApp? Change the settings.
A pop-up notification every time you receive an email? Change the settings.
A buzz if you get a text? Change the settings!
Try it for a few days and see how you feel. You might even end up becoming less attached to your phone.
In the end, just do whatever you need to do so that you balance the constant input of electronic noise after weeks of serenity.
A Few More Things:
Post-travel I love spending time reminiscing about my actual experiences rather than jumping onto the next one.
A few of my favourite things to do when I return include:
1. Going through my photos and printing out a couple to hang around my apartment.
2. Recreating a few of my favourite meals. (However, I won’t be cooking up Haggis anytime soon.)
3. Read more about the country, history, culture to gain a better understanding of where I just went.
That way, it almost feels like you’re still on vacation…almost.
So there you have it. Hopefully post-travel, you can now ease back into your real life following a few of these suggestions.
Have some tips of your own to share? Let us know in the comments.