This is a guest post by Mary, who writes Mary and Sean’s Adventures Abroad. She’s a world traveler who got bitten by the travel bug at a very young age as military child living in Europe.
Do you ever suffer from post-travel blues? You know, it’s that awkward dreadful transition time back at home, especially after an exhilarating vacation abroad somewhere.
When I am out there in the world, my senses are on overdrive nonstop. In addition, I am more willing to take chances, and I get hooked on the thrill of some new unexpected event that day. Whether returning from a week long resort trip to Mexico or a six-month work assignment in the Czech Republic, reintegrating to my usual routine after all that can seem, well, plain old boring. Can you relate?
Over the years, however, I have learned some strategies to lessen the shock of stepping into pre-trip existence again. These tricks are tried and true, and they absolutely help extend your travels way beyond the return flight home.
#1 Send Postcards To Yourself
Just as if you were writing to a friend, describe in detail what you did that day and how you were feeling. Given the unpredictable postal systems around the world, you never know when it might arrive and surprise you.
#2 Meet a New Person On Your Trip and Keep in Touch
This tip has been one of my favorites through the years. What’s a better way to keep your trip going than to forge a new friendship from it? It is often surprisingly easy to bond with that fellow traveler who slept in the bunk next to yours and had to listen to the same loud snoring from someone else. Sometimes I cannot believe I am still in touch with a person I met at a hostel in Cape Town in 1995.
#3 Buy Local Ingredients to Recreate Food Enjoyed During Your Travels
I have bought jars of dulce de leche in Argentina to make homemade alfajores in my own kitchen, fresh nutmeg pods from Malawi to spice up my banana bread, and Turkish apple tea to sip alongside a book some afternoon. Need a little vacation escape? Look to your spice rack!
#4 Purchase Inexpensive Items You Are Likely to Incorporate Into Your Daily Life
I used to buy souvenirs to rest idly on a coffee table or hang on a wall, but after awhile, I rarely even noticed them anymore. Then I realized I was much more likely to use some wooden salad tongs from Namibia or coconut soap from Hawaii. I get a little trip reminder every time I wash my hands or toss a salad.
#5 Educate Yourself After the Trip
An avid traveler, my mother taught us to learn about countries before a trip to build anticipation and understand the context of what we see, but why stop there? We always feel a stronger connection to a place after knowing it with our own senses, so relive your trip again by reading books about it, paying attention to the international news, or simply watching a popular movie. After a trip to Shanghai last year, I watched any movie I could find that took place there. If you are anything like me, you get excited to recognize obscure landmarks in a film and think, “I stood exactly right there!”
#6 Attend Local Community Events About That Favorite Place
Participating in local hometown events is a great way to experience some of the flavors or sights of your travels, and meet other people who love a destination as much as you do. Did you visit the Greek Isles for your honeymoon? Most average size cities have some kind of Greek fest with music and food at least once a year. Moreover, libraries, education centers, art museums, and even churches are often unexpected venues for all kinds of cultural events.
#7 Create Blog Posts, Video Travelogues, and Photo Collages to Share With Others
Or if you are like me, save them for a rainy day. One of the best ways I know to bring a trip home with me is to edit pictures, make fun short movies, and write about it. These rituals help me process the whole experience on varied levels. On one hand, chronicling a trip helps record details often soon forgotten, and these details have a way of jogging other details. In this way, the whole memory stays alive. On a broader level, recounting a strange or funny story (if only to myself) helps me understand the world a little better and how I operate within it. In either case, there is nothing better on a lazy afternoon than opening up a journal or photo album and indulging in a bit of “Oh, remember that great time I…”
Traveling for Mary has been an important and nonnegotiable aspect of her life ever since. Friends think she’s indulgent with all her trips around the world and quest to experience different cultures, but for Mary, apart from family and learning, it’s her reason for living. She’s lived abroad as a student in Mexico, a Peace Corps volunteer in Namibia, and a Nato Partnership for Peace teacher in the Czech Republic. Mary currently lives in Okinawa, Japan, where she’s eating her way around Asia.
Thank you again for the excellent guest post Mary!
I love this post and am sad that I am going to have to try out some of these tips 🙁 But thanks for writing them up and I will let you know how they go once I get back home next week! 🙂
Good luck Shannon. It’s a hard feeling to break but Mary’s tips are a great way to gradually ease the pain!
Great post! And #7 is the exact reason why I start my blog and continue to keep it up to date. 🙂
I completely agree! I think the single best thing about travel blogs is their ability to connect with others. It’s also a good place to focus your thoughts and memories and keep the travels alive.
Great blog. I have done many of these things and it does bring back great memories. In fact I just played tour guide in my town to people I met 14 years ago on Arizona.
Of course, so-so experiences are not very welcome to relive. As George Carlin once said, “It’s like burping and tasting a hot dog you had three days ago.”
haha, hadn’t heard that quote before but I like it.
Nice ideas to keep the holiday mood going a little further. I always buy nice postcards when I travel thinking I’ll use them for notes and thankyou cards but then I’m always loathe to give them away. I also like the idea of recreating the food I ate when I come back, in fact I recently created a whole dinner inspired by my holiday in Istria.
Food is the source of so many great memories isn’t it? Same can be said about drinks too!
I love going back and reading my blog posts about my travels. It is always rewarding.
My suggestion is to “become a tourist in your home town”. It can be difficult to look at a place you’ve known all your life anew – but it is a really cool inexpensive way of getting that “on the road” feeling again.
I keep little mementos on me, or in my handbag. Something as simple as a metro ticket in my coat pocket can take me back!
I do the same thing. Little random things or reminders I set for myself to take me back, even when I’m not expecting it 🙂
I love the idea about mailing postcards to yourself. I usually buy one and keep it, but I never thought to write notes about my trip on it. Years later I find postcards and I have a hard time remembering what I did.
The only difficulty is staying put somewhere long enough to have a permanent address.
I think there’s a virtual version that lets you have emails pop up at later dates but nothing beats a postcard. I still love them. Think I’ll try this too 🙂
I really like tip #1 about sending postcards to yourself. I’ve never thought to do that, but it’s a great idea!! I’m going to do that on my next adventure 🙂
I will too. I just need to stop being lazy about it!
Great tips Mary!! Thanks 🙂
Anil great blog. Does living long term as an expat in Africa count as interesting to a world traveler like you??
Please also visit my blog. Glad to have found you!
Holli in Ghana
Hi Holli, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my blog. Just checked out your site and added you to my RSS reader to follow along. (Of course your experiences sound very interesting, looking forward to reading more of them!) I’m hoping to be in South Africa next summer for the World Cup, hopefully I’ll make it there.
So much I need to explore in all of Africa!
Thanks Anil!! We are worlds away from South Africa – both culturally and in distance. I’ll be in Cape Town next week and it’s two flights from here – one 6 hours and the other an hour and a half.
You definitely need to see some other parts of the continent after the world cup!! 🙂
Hi Anil, I don’t know if this count as taking your trip back home or ‘retaining memories of your trip’ but I love to save up every little receipts, bus/train tickets, scribbled notes, overused maps and even candy wrappers from my trips. They bring flash memories and suddenly I think of that place and that time, which is very cool.
And I am doing #7 as you know, converting my handwritten notes and scraps and putting it online. 🙂
I do something similar, just with less things. I’m so disorganized that I end up mixing it all up. Occasionally though I find ticket stubs and other reminders stuffed away in pockets, books, and corners of my backpack that really take me back.
I’m brewing on a more personal travelogue myself, though not sure if it’s ready!
This is great post. I liked #1 & #2 most.
I think many of us buy lovely postcards for beautiful memories we have of the place and I post some to others but never thought of posting to myself ! Killing 2 birds with a single stone !
But I have a habit of buying souvenirs also. It works fine with me as I always head back after doing 2-3 places in one go.
I have been doing some of these, and have started doing #7 as well. 😀
Glad to see you blogging Nisha! I think postcards hold a certain travel quality about them that can’t be replaced by the Internet. Getting a postcard from anyone (including yourself) really strikes the traveling spirit.
Hey there– I liked these tips a lot. We actually send ourselves postcards so we get many of those way after we’ve returned home.. which is really cool. We’re actually keeping in touch several people from the Twitter community and boy that’s been really great. We now have a blog so we are really happy about that as well. Love the other tips and will be trying that as well. Great post. Thanks for sharing!
I’m going to try and keep sending myself postcards. I’ve done similar things with online services (that email you after a while – dorky I know) but it’s just not the same. I’m with you though, I love Twitter as well, I’ve met so many great people and kept in touch with more using it.
I’m glad you enjoyed this post!
The only things I have been doing are #2 & #7. Should try the others next time I set off!
Good places to start!