The first week back from a big trip (or even a short weekend away) is always a little rough for me. It’s not just about trying to get back into the swing of things in real life—it’s also about dealing with disappointment when a long-anticipated trip is over. I’m usually ready to come home and get back into my regular routine after a long trip, but I also want my travel experiences to live on forever.
Is it possible to do both?
These five practices will help you readjust to real life while still keeping your travel experiences alive and fresh.
1. Schedule a day (or at least many hours) of downtime before going back to “reality.”
I used to try to maximize every bit of my vacation by flying home late in the day and heading back to work the next day. I wanted to save all those vacation days for vacation, not sitting at home! But going back to work right away left me feeling exhausted instead of rejuvenated by my trip. It’s totally worth it to use an extra vacation day to sleep in, do your laundry, unpack, go grocery shopping—all the things that will make you feel prepared to take on the rest of your work week. If you can’t spare a whole day, consider taking a half day, working from home your first day back, or taking an earlier flight home so you have at least a few hours to catch your breath.
2. Relive different parts of the trip and write about how they made you feel.
I never want to forget anything I did or the emotions I felt on a trip, so I try to jot down some notes during my first week back. Ideally I’d do this at the end of each travel day, but I’m not great at keeping up. It’s less about capturing every detail of every activity and more about pausing to reflect on what you felt, what you learned, and how you grew from each experience. At the same time, don’t beat yourself up if every single event wasn’t meaningful. Some experiences on vacation are just plain fun, and that’s fine! Also, this does not have to be a long, detailed vacation journal. It could be as simple as jotting down a few thoughts in an online album as you sift through your pictures.
3. Delete your pictures.
Obviously I don’t mean delete all your pictures. I tend to take about 10–15 pictures of the same thing, when I really just want one good shot. After I get back from vacation, I look through my photos and delete any shots that didn’t come out quite right so I’m left with just the photos I love the most. It’s good for my phone storage and for the next suggestion.
4. Create a photo book.
Admittedly, I’m not good at this one. I have so many unfinished photo books just sitting in Shutterfly waiting to be completed and printed. One thing that makes this easier, as I mentioned before, is paring down your photo collection to just the best shots of everything you did. Then you can pretty much drag and drop! Also, as much as I’d love to print, frame, and hang pictures, I just don’t have enough wall space for it. I imagine having a shelf full of travel photo books and memories in my living room one day (and that’s better than souvenirs!).
5. Find a little place near your hometown that reminds you of your travels.
Did you just get back from Germany? Mosey into that little German beer haus in a local town. Did you have the time of your life hiking in Yosemite? Find some nearby trails you can explore. Part of the reason we travel is to open ourselves to new experiences and find new passions—but that doesn’t mean we get to live these experiences only when we’re traveling! Finding ways to incorporate our newfound joys into everyday life will help us enjoy travel even when we’re not far from home.