What to Do When You Have The Post-Travel Blues
After a week or two of swimming in turquoise seas and eating ceviche on the beach, coming home is hard. It's kind of impossible not to compare regular everyday life to whatever sun-dappled elsewhere you just returned from without feeling just a little blue.
This used to happen to me all the time. And even now, after a quick weekend away or busy work trip I'll feel a twinge of post-travel gloom. As much as I love Brooklyn and NYC, I can't shake the feeling that there's still so much more out there to see. But pining for a far off place and neglecting the present moment is the antithesis of being a true traveler — no matter if you're home or away. So with that in mind, here are some tricks that keep after-trip depression from setting in.
Cry on the Plane
Okay not really but kind of ... Taking some time to reflect is a good idea, and the plane is a good place to do it. Write stuff down, look out the window, and meditate on everything that happened on the trip. Then, think about the things to look forward to at home and how the insights gained while abroad can propel you into the next phase. (If you really can't think of anything at home to be excited about, skip down to the last point on this list. I got you.)
Unpacking is sucky so you may as well get it over with. I unpack the very first night I'm back, then I get my suitcase out of sight until it's time to leave again. Putting everything away helps me (and my apartment) snap into the present.
A Souvenir Is a Memory
Not oversized sombreros and snowglobes, but real things that can be incorporated into everyday life — I've brought back mezcal and incense and even interesting-smelling bars of soap from random drugstores. Using these little goodies at home makes the faraway blend with the present moment and reminds you that life is one fluid adventure. And like most good things, these treasures are better shared — so buy extras to give away.
... And Photos Are Like Souvenirs
Which means they're better shared, too. If you took a ton of photos during the trip, organize and share them as soon as you can. Not only will it give you a chance to relive favorite moments from the trip, but it'll help you contextualize the experience in your mind's eye, too. Better yet, your photos might inspire someone else to travel to that same magical place, and that's really the coolest way to make an experience live on.
Hold On To That Feeling
When you're far away you're a little explorer: Everything is new! But we often take for granted how much of our own town is unknown to us. When I'm bored with my own city, I ask new friends and acquaintances what their favorite restaurant/cafe/store/bar/park/whatever is — it's almost always a place I don't regularly go. Which reminds me I need to be an explorer at home, too.
Plan Your Next Adventure
This is the best. Get a getaway — even a just a weekend break or a day trip — on your calendar. It will give you something to research and look forward to, which according to science, is actually the most enjoyable part about traveling for many people anyway. Plus, going to work everyday is much more tolerable if you have specific goals (like saving for a trip to Nicaragua!) in mind. Unless...
Make a Change
While it's normal to feel blue after vacation, if you're feeling absolutely outrageously sad, it might be time to dig deeper into what's really making you feel that way. After 10 years in cut-throat corporate jobs I started to daydream all the time about traveling non-stop. Part of that was because I truly love traveling and wasn't doing nearly enough of it, but the rest was because I was feeling unfulfilled by my career-focused lifestyle and was looking for a literal escape. Trust me: Realizing you need to make major changes is tough and actually making those changes is even tougher — but neither is as bad as feeling totally trapped and miserable inside. It's cliche, but life really is short. Don't waste it doing stuff you hate. Or rather, don't waste it constantly looking for ways to escape.
If this is you, hi! Check out the book "Vagabonding" by Rolf Potts. It's a lovely philosophy book disguised as a travel guide — and it really inspired me to set a new direction in life.