I once read someone’s travel blog where they were discussing that bummer of a feeling you get when you return from a vacation and have to face the “real world” again. I travel quite a bit, which you would think would make this easier, but in fact it just means I have to face that post-trip period more frequently. I absolutely hate re-entry from a trip, but since I am fortunate to have traveled quite a bit over the years, I’ve adopted my own personal strategy that just might work for you:
1. Always be planning the next trip. Literally, I’ll be on the plane returning with friends and start discussing where we’re going next, knowing I can jump into phase one as soon as I get back (or as soon as I get unburied). The next trip doesn’t even have to be that soon – I’m often planning trips 18 months or more in the future, but the process of researching the places, thinking about what we’ll do and where we’ll go, are all part of the excitement of the pre-trip planning phase.
2. Don’t overschedule for the first few days back – give yourself some leeway, let work hit you as it may, without knowing you have 6 back to back appointments you’ve committed to. If you return to a job where you don’t get to control this, just cut yourself some slack if you don’t feel you’re up to your best performance level yet.
3. Eat healthy foods and drink alot of water – for me, that makes up for all of the gorging on food and wine while I travel and makes that post-trip flu feeling go away. It sometimes also helps you lose a few pounds if you’re struggling with and vacation weight gain.
4. Make yourself go to bed at your normal time – even if you wake up early, even if you are dead tired in the middle of the day, try to get back on your schedule. If you’re tired early in the evening, instead of going to bed, take a walk, watch an interesting show, or dive into a new project – anything that will keep you engaged and awake until a reasonable bedtime.
5. Don’t feel the laundry needs to be done day one – sometimes I let it sit in the suitcase for days on our landing without even opening the bag. Surely you have other clothes to wear in the meantime?
6.Reach out to friends – instead of missing those you just left, focus on seeing those you missed while you were away. Studies have shown how important friendships are to lifting your spirits, so socialize and get that endorphin flowing.
7. And although I somewhat hate to admit or advocate this, even though in general I think we should try to unplug on vacation, personally I’d rather pop onto my email once a day on a trip from my iPad than have to face the hundreds of things waiting for me upon my return. But I recommend this with one major caveat – tell people you won’t know if you’ll be able to check, and only respond to those things you really have to. I find the late afternoon rest time on a trip perfect for doing this without infringing on our trip at all
8. Create a photo book the first week you are back – that’s when everything is freshest in your memory, but it also lets you relive it a bit, come down slowly from the rush of being there. There are plenty of sites around – personally I love Shutterfly.
9. Blog about the trip – sort of like the photo book, but it forces you to share what’s important to readers who might want to take a similar trip. That process forces me to really think about the best parts of the trip, the best places to eat, and the most important sights to see.
10. Catch up on TV – I know this sounds mundane and you might not be a TV fan, but grabbing the last two weeks episodes of Mad Men or Grey’s Anatomy is just the kind of mindless activity that lets me relax and feel that I’m back home in the US.
That’s my top 10 – hope you can use some of these!