As fun as travel is, getting back in the swing of things following vacation can be tough—especially when travel with aging parents is involved. I’ve felt the full brunt of this whenever Mom and I return from a multiweek adventure to the other side of the planet. (And sometimes I find coming home to be challenging even after just a long weekend trip on my own or with a friend!)
Fortunately, experience has taught me some great ways to deal with the reentry period. Here’s hoping these nine tips will help you adjust to being home again after your next trip!
1. Don’t overcommit yourself.
When planning a trip, I always try not to plan anything too important during the first few days or week following vacation, particularly if I’m coming back from overseas. Scheduling anything that requires a lot of energy or brain power when I’m supremely jetlagged sets me up for failure every time.
When you get home, give yourself easy tasks that will make you feel good because you can cross them off your list without too much trouble or worry. Doing laundry, paying bills, catching up on filing—whatever is easy to accomplish should be on your list during those first few days or so.
2. Take short naps.
Mom is retired and has a flexible schedule. Although this might seem like an ideal scenario for someone returning from a big trip, it can actually backfire if not managed carefully. Because of her flexible schedule, Mom can have a really hard time getting back to her regular sleep pattern. After our trip to China last winter, for example, she needed three weeks to readjust to being at home again, because she often nodded off for far too long during the day!
I’ve found that taking short power naps (no longer than 30 minutes or so) gives me the burst of energy I need to continue through the afternoon hours when I really begin to drag. If I’m working a consulting assignment in a client’s office, I’ll schedule my lunch for later in the day (around 2 or 3 p.m.) and either shut my door for a quick nap or go for an energizing walk around the outside of the building.
If you exercise regularly, getting back to your workout routine will be an easy task. However, if you’re like me and visit the gym once a week (and that’s on a good week!), you might have some trouble meeting this goal. If you push yourself to move your body, though, you’ll feel so much better.
I’ve found that forcing myself to go to the gym really helps with my energy level and helps me stay awake during “regular” hours when all I want to do is sleep. After a trip to Asia, I typically wake up at 4 a.m. (or earlier!) for a while, so things begin to get fuzzy right around 3 p.m. Going to the gym (even immediately after work) helps me stay up later in the evening and get a better night’s sleep—which in turn helps me recover from jet lag and get back to my regular schedule. If I’m blurry in the morning, I’ve found that exercise first thing in the day (fortunately, my gym in NYC is open 24 hours) helps with my creativity, motivation, and positive mindset. So follow Nike’s advice and “Just do it!”
4. Give yourself a break.
It takes time to readjust to being back home. So remind yourself that you are dealing with time differences, schedule shifts, and just getting back into the daily routines that made you need a vacation in the first place! The last thing you want to do when you return to reality is make yourself feel bad about whatever it is you think you should be accomplishing at this moment. Remember that everything takes time—even adjusting to your own familiar schedule.
5. Go grocery shopping.
Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But grocery shopping may be one of the best things you can do for yourself after a long trip. During your travels, you probably overindulged a bit. (After all, you were on vacation!) So now it’s time to restock your pantry with healthy items to get your body back on its regular diet.
6. Organize your photos.
If you’re feeling a little blue about the end of your vacation, take some time to wax nostalgic! Upload photos from your trip and share them on your favorite social media sites (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).
Mom doesn’t have Internet access at home, so after each trip we take together I create a photo album for it, including notes about where we went, what we did, and how we felt. Working on these projects puts a smile on my face, and I know they bring lots of joy to Mom. Because the albums can take me a few weeks to get together (I takes hundreds of pictures when we’re on vacation!), I typically send her a dozen or so shortly after the trip. Not only do they hold her over until the album is complete, but they also let her share the fun with her friends right away!
7. Make plans with friends.
When you’re home and trying to catch up on work and personal stuff you missed while you were away, don’t neglect your friends. Even if you just schedule a quick coffee or lunch together, catching up with friends is a vital part of the return to your daily routine. It’s also fun to share your vacation stories with a best friend who can “Ooh!” and “Ah!” in the same places you did!
8. Pamper yourself.
Do something kind for yourself to help ease the transition back to your daily routine. Schedule a massage, manicure, or pedicure, for example. Or read fluff magazines (a supreme indulgence for me!), start a new book, or simply go to a park and people watch. Do whatever offers you inner peace and reflection—and makes you thankful to be in the here and now.
9. Plan your next trip.
Nothing will set your heart racing and help you get over the post-vacation blues like planning another trip! Personally, I need something travel-related to look forward to—even if it’s just a long weekend away.
So start searching websites or perusing photos of far-off places for inspiration. Create your bucket list and choose your next spot. Then start hatching a plan to get there!