7 Ways To Navigate Those Post-Travel Blues
You've had the best trip! Met amazing people, had experiences you can never recreate, sunsets you'll never forget...and you want it to continue forever! The spontaneity and thrill of the unknown puts wind in your sails, taking you to uncharted places. You've bonded with like-minded travelers and locals and now have so much to share, but suddenly those people are gone and your memories quickly feel like a dream.
Over the years, I've been fortunate enough to experience a wide variety of countries, but each time I return home, I'm left wanting for more -- more culture, more variety, more connection, more spontaneity.
Travel is an exciting way to live. Having new adventures are what life is all about. Experiences I never knew were on my bucket-list were simultaneously added and crossed off! I feel bigger and more alive. For most of us, each trip has an expiration date, which is why it's all the more important to find ways to experience that same excitement, variety, and connection inherent in going somewhere new, at home.
On the road, communication is different. You learn how to ask more interesting questions, and preconceptions become meaningless as you see the person, rather than the presentation. Conversations happen simply because of your common love of travel, and we often feel freer to speak to our neighbor. The excitement or even the frustrations that sometimes accompany travel beg for others to share in it. We're naturally out of our comfort zone, and people like me love it. It's where we thrive.
So, why is it easier to connect with a complete stranger on a day-trip than the people in your everyday life? Maybe it's the lack of being around like-minded travelers, knowing you're all in the same boat, there for the same reason. Or maybe it's that we revert to being the person before the trip, rather than maintaining the person we've become through the trip. I'd say it's all of the above and more.
Returning home is by far the most difficult part of travel for me, as I know it is for most travelers. The wind has gone from my sails, despite making great efforts to begin new endeavors and staying optimistic. Nobody really talks about the adjustment to normal life, feeling lost and out of touch. There's an inherent disconnect when you've stretched and grown, but you return to the same old environment.
My initial comfort comes from knowing that this feeling is familiar to many. Beyond that, here are 7 ways to put a little more wind back in your sails and navigate a new normal.
1. Pretend you're a visitor in your own city. You've been away, so you're returning with fresh eyes. After being in the habit of seeing new things, see your own city as a tourist. What would you do if you only had a month to see and do everything? Spread these out over a period of a few weekends. Take your camera and talk to strangers -- be in the traveler mentality.
2. Reconnect and make new friends. Friendships change. They may be in other countries or time zones, so planning a phone date is a great way to stay in touch with friends you met on the road, or who've moved to another city. Let them evolve, re-establish, or fade away as necessary. There's always a new one developing right around the corner, so don't expect things to stay the same. Just do your best to let them be new and in some cases, grow stronger than ever.
3. Join a group. There are several options here. The one I'm most excited about is a site called Eat With. where you pick a city and dine with a Master Chef and a group of strangers. Or maybe you're into photography or hikes and find a Meetup group to join or start, if nothing fits the bill. Sports are a great way to be apart of group of like-minded people. Whatever you choose, find something that's important to you, join in and start fresh.
4. Love your home. After floating around for years, I'm so happy to have some stability and familiarity. There's something to be said for not always starting over and learning the basics again and again. And my home feels better than ever! Every souvenir I've unpacked has its own special place, making me smile every time I see an object or mug from my travels. They each have a story and are proof that the trip wasn't just a dream, but a fond memory.
5. Cultivate a spiritual practice. Remembering that our happiness comes from within is a perfect way to stop chasing it in the world and making the most of wherever we are. Finding a way to enjoy every day is my remedy to be happy right where I am.
There's a reason this saying holds true: Wherever you go, there you are!
6. Put a trip on the books. Plan your next adventure, or at least think about what you'd like it to be. Maybe it's only a few hours away, or just on the outskirts of your own city. Have conversations about places near and far. Ask people if they've been. Start enjoying the idea of your next outing or trip now, and see how it develops and changes. You never know when an opportunity may arise.
7. Watch a foreign film. It may seem silly and trivial, but for me, it's instant gratification. I recently went to a local art house I'd never been to and saw a film based in Turkey. The scenery along with hearing another language were exactly what I needed on a rainy afternoon to scratch that travel itch. If you like plays, look for the National Theatre's filming of their live stage productions. For $20, it's cheaper than a plane ticket, and a great way to transport yourself to London's South Bank for top quality theater.
How do you deal with the post-travel blues?