Salobre Hotel Resort and Serenity, Gran Canaria – Photograph by Brendan Harding
It’s been said that travel is the ultimate gift of experience.
Travel presents us with slivers of wonder and moments of sparkling magic which can enhance the rest of our lives. It gives us people and places, sights and smells, tastes and moments, all of which become the experiences that fill the library of our future stories.
Unfortunately, that’s not much comfort to you when you’re smacked square in the face with the reality of your first day back at the grindstone after a well-deserved break.
It doesn’t really matter whether you’ve just spent six months backpacking in south-east Asia, two weeks idling on a sun-soaked beach, or just a long weekend with the right people. It sucks to be back.
While we are traveling we can allow our dreams to transform us into the people we want to be, complete with the life we want to live. How many times have you sat alone on a beach, ate in a hidden backstreet restaurant, watched a spectacular sunset, or just wandered a labyrinth of winding backstreets in some sleepy village and said to yourself, ‘I could live here, this place suits me’, and genuinely felt that you meant it?
And then reality bites. There is a mortgage to be paid, children to be schooled, bills to be paid, commitments to be honored. The vacation is over and like it or not, we have to adjust and hit the ground running one more time. There are reports to be completed, holes to be dug, animals to be tended, whatever it is that fills your day, it’s a routine that requires your unflinching attention.
But that doesn’t mean that your experiences have to be thrown on the scrap-heap.
Looking west in the beautiful Kingdom of Jordan – Photograph by Brendan Harding
So, how do we get through this return to normality?
Some people simply can’t get through the moment of return, the experience has been far more than they could ever have imagined. They have been changed indelibly and they willingly surrender to the emotions which were stirred within them. The call and the urge proved too much.
The idea of becoming a tour guide in Morocco, an English teacher in Cape Town, or a fruit farmer in California somehow offered more appeal than the return to normality. And, like an itch that had to be scratched, it was a path demanding to be followed.
For most of us, we don’t just pack in our jobs, don a kaftan, and head for the hills to recite mantras, most of us return to our lives and carry on, pretending that nothing has changed. But, a lot has changed, we are different people than before our new experiences – even if you don’t realize it. These experiences, act like upgraded extensions to the people we were before.
The real trick when dealing with post-vacation or post-travel depression is to use these new experiences and emotions purposefully in our daily lives.
The Tower Builders of Tarragona may inspire you to learn a language – Photograph by Brendan Harding
If you really enjoyed the destination and promised to return in the future, one motivation to make that return journey happen might be to learn the language. Not only are you gaining a new skill, but you are actively improving yourself, and preparing for further adventures.
Or, if languages are not your thing, you could try cooking some of the new foods you experienced on your travels, invite some friends around, and relive the moments through conversation and storytelling.
You might even want to frame one of your favorite holiday or travel photos, put it in a prominent place, and leave a jar closeby to collect any spare change you might have – that becomes a very real and a very positive incentive to experience even more new adventures.
Don’t just sit back and wait for your next trip – Photograph by Brendan Harding
Practical tips to deal with post-vacation depression
Enhance yourself physically
Talk to like-minded people
Make a change
Time to recover
Give the gift of travel
Enhance yourself physically
Do you regret not being physically fit enough to try some new experience on your vacation/travels? Would being able to participate in that experience have made your experience more enjoyable? If the answer is yes to either of those questions, perhaps you can use this as motivation to make sure that the next time you travel, your physical fitness won’t hamper your enjoyment.
Perhaps partaking in some physical exercise like walking, hiking, attending the gym, yoga, or a change of diet and lifestyle would really bring a spark to any future travels. Plus, frequent exercise and a healthy diet not only enhances your travels but your whole life.
Talk to like-minded people
You don’t have to bore the pants off everyone around you with ten thousand pictures of your apartment, your lunch, or your favorite backstreet cat. But, if you can find a family member or friend who might enjoy hearing about your travels, you’ll be surprised how therapeutic it can be for you too.
Plus, your stories might even ignite some hidden wanderlust and encourage them to take that big trip they’ve always dreamed of. Also, perhaps you could start an online travel journal or blog. If writing is not for you, some of the short-form social media sites – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – are perfect outlets to share your experiences and invite conversation. You can tag the places you’ve stayed and eaten in, the attractions you’ve visited, and share your experiences and your viewpoints with the owners. Who knows, next time you return you may even have made some new online friends.
Involvement in some social project may enhance your travels – Photograph by Brendan Harding
Make a change
If you witnessed some form of social inequality or injustice on your travels perhaps the experience is still echoing in your head. Maybe you want to know how you can help? Ask yourself why was this experience important to you and how you might be able to help? Perhaps you could alleviate poverty by organizing a fund-raiser for a school, hospital, or orphanage you encountered.
Or maybe you might want to lend your voice to groups like the WWF, Amnesty International, or Medicins sans Frontiers, the possibilities are endless, plus, sometime in the future, you might find yourself back on the ground volunteering with one of these institutions, and really giving back to the local community.
Time to recover
This small tip mightn’t change your life, but it will help your transition between travel and the real world. Give yourself time.
Try not to return from your two-week vacation late on Sunday night and expect to be back at your desk or workplace first thing Monday morning. Give yourself a couple of days to acclimatize, to unpack your bags – everyone hates seeing that still full suitcase sniggering at you two months after your return – get your shopping done, it can help you return to your routine. Or, failing that, do something that you really enjoy doing at home; gardening, reading, or watching your favorite tv program. Whatever it might be that takes your mind from your recent travels, give yourself a little extra time to enjoy them and restore your routine slowly.
Gift the gift of travel
You’ve seen how much travel can enhance your own personal experiences, but perhaps you know someone who has never been so lucky. As humans, it’s been proven that giving gifts which are really appreciated makes us as happy as the recipient of the gift. Next time you have a family member, friend, or colleague celebrating some occasion, why not gift an experience.
Tinggly offers thousands of unique travel experiences as gifts, in over one hundred countries around the world. Experiences like paragliding, wildlife safaris, luxury spa treatments, diving with sharks, driving and helicopter experiences, and lots more that the recipient may never have tried. If you can’t travel yourself, isn’t it amazing to know that you’ve given someone else a unique and possibly life-changing experience?
And what’s more, all Tinggly gifts are fully sustainable and environmentally-friendly, and with no expiry date the recipient can take their time choosing the experience that’s just right for them.