Summer is winding down (wait, what?… but, it is…) and if you were lucky enough to travel anywhere this summer, for a long weekend or even a week-long getaway, chances are you’re also *lucky* enough to be reminded of how rough your everyday reality is because re-entry is real and IT. IS. HARD.
Listen, I know some of you are thinking, “aw, poor blogger, you’re having a rough time adjusting to being home after a week away at the beach.” We all know that traveling is good for the soul, but many of us are, have been, or will be facing this exact experience at some point this summer. Studies have been done on re-entry after travel. It is real. It is depressing. It smacks you in the face. And it’s lame.
I was talking with my husband on our 12-hour drive home (in which our two-year-old napped for an entire 20 minutes…) about how bummed I was to be leaving our week away in paradise and getting back to the grind of house projects and sitting at my desk at work and laundry and responsibility and blah blah blah… I said to him, “I think I’d like to write a blog on ‘keeping that vacation high,’ because I’m feeling so ‘blah’ about going back home.” And he said, “That’s a great idea! What are your suggestions?”
“I don’t have any yet…” I responded. Because in that immediate moment, I didn’t know. In the few times I have had the opportunity to travel, upon returning home I’ve always just said, “Well, back to reality now, life is lame, oh well.” But it hit me like a ton of bricks as I was thinking about all of the things I get to come home to: a home, a furry dog, a community, a job with friends, mom friends in my village, a cozy bed, my daughter’s first bedroom, routine… I could go on. Why was I dreading coming home? Sure, the beach is carefree and fun and relaxing and refreshing and a break from the norm.
But there has to be a way to continue some of those feelings in our day-to-day when we are back home… right? Right. After all these years, I refuse to settle into the “re-entry blah.” So together, my husband and I came up with a few ideas to bring our vacation high back into our daily reality.
- Make a playlist… and keep playing it! We create a Spotify playlist every time we travel. This trip was full of every song that mentions the word beach/sand/summer/drinks/fun/relaxation/dancing. We listened to it for weeks ahead of time, during most of the drive to our destination, and during our time at the beach. Traditionally, we stop listening to it on our last day because we aren’t on vacation anymore… so why listen to the vacation playlist? We’ve been listening to it lots since returning home and it reminds us of the sounds of the beach, of our late nights playing cards, of our silly afternoons with our daughter. The sounds of your vacation can come home with you and remind you of everything you felt while you had escaped.
- Don’t dive into your email and social media immediately. I was DREADING logging into Facebook when we got home. I was thinking about how much I had missed while I was away and was overwhelmed by thinking of everything I had to catch up on. I finally caught myself and thought, “You are being a dummy. No one is forcing you to get on social media.” And suddenly, after giving myself permission, I decided to keep staying unplugged. And it has been GLORIOUS. Many things work if you unplug them and plug them back in for a while, yourself included. (I know that’s a great line but I didn’t write it, props to whoever I can quote for that.) Read more on Saying Goodbye to Facebook!
- Find a visual reminder to bring home with you and put it somewhere you’ll see it all the time. We brought home a starfish from this last trip and added it to our travel wall that is in our kitchen. It was a reminder of our time in a specific beach town, but it also was a cheaper option than some of our previous visual reminders (like the signs you see in the picture) to remind us that we could still create a fun, memorable week on a tight budget. We saved enough to make the trip work perfectly for our little family of three and I hope that our starfish will constantly remind us of our memories from this trip and prioritizing travel in general. You can print off lots of pictures or purchase a memento from the town you’re visiting too.
- Have another trip on the books! Most of the time, when I come home after a trip, I don’t have another one lined up. All the excuses: no time, no money, etc. And I just think about the days and weeks and months before I’ll feel some of that travel high again… and it just makes me dread returning home even more. I have a little getaway planned in early November that I am PUMPED about and it made this re-entry so much easier than usual. Instead of feeling depressed that I had to leave a gorgeous, sunny place, I keep reminding myself that I get to see another one in just a few short months. (I tend always to let money be the main excuse for me, but we’ve been reorganizing our budget to make travel a priority. It’s too good for our soul to cut out, no matter what).
- Give yourself grace. Even if you try to do all the things and stay super positive and sing “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys nonstop once you’re home, sometimes reality is going to hit you hard (like when you sit down in your cubicle and open your email for the first time after ten days away…) Sometimes you’ll be reminded that summer is almost over, the days are getting shorter, and you have a long Columbus winter until your next beach getaway. Be gentle with yourself. Remember that some people need therapy for re-entry after vacation, especially long trips or consecutive trips. It’s real. Acknowledge that you’re bummed. Tell your spouse and family that you wish you could go back. Share a hilarious memory from your trip. Drink whatever delicious drink you drank for that whole week and get yourself back in that carefree mindset. You can’t live there 24/7 because we’re adults and have bills and such… but you can live there like, 23/7 and then just pay those bills in that last available hour.
We all have responsibilities. And projects to complete. And things to do. But we don’t live forever. We owe it to ourselves to somehow bring some of that joy, relaxation, and rejuvenation we feel on vacation back into our day-to-day grind. Those feelings we feel when we are on vacation are too fantastic to store away during the long winter. Figure out a way to bring more joy to you. To your home. To your soul.
Happy travels, my friends. And even happier returns!