I am suffering badly from the no-travel blues at the moment and am sure I am not alone. That said, I seem to get the blues whenever the last suitcase is unpacked after a trip and real life has me back. Nothing like a Monday morning, early start, dreary weather, and colorless clothes, plus a to-do list as long as the Great Wall of China to get you down.
But there are things you can do to hang onto that vacay feeling, keep your spirits lifted, and have that spring in your step even when back home. I have by now perfected my tricks of floating on the travel cloud for a little longer and can even summon the away-from-home vibe at will. So, instead of succumbing to the dreaded dreary workday or bored back-home mood, here are some tips on how to prolong that vacation feeling and keep walking on sunshine for a little longer. Just try it; each one really works.
1. Redecorate, Digitally
First of all, get your favorite holiday snapshot, be it of your destination or of you and your partner or family smiling contentedly into the camera, and use it as wallpaper for your computer screen. Now every time you switch on that horrid machine, you can’t help but smile. Load another one onto your phone, and before you can even get annoyed by yet another alert, you’re reminded of that beautiful spot you have just enjoyed, or maybe even one you are planning to visit in the future.
This practice does not need to stop at your screens. Why not have a world map pinboard with pins in all the places you have visited in one color, and in another color, those which you are planning to get to? I have mine in the kitchen, so when I am chopping things, I can see it. But you can put it anywhere, even your workplace, if you can, for daily inspiration and fond memories.
2. Small But Perfect
Then find a pebble, a shell, or a small knick-knack that you have brought back from your travels and keep it in your purse. When you dive in looking for your phone, wallet, or keys, you will come across it and remember when and where you got it. I always carry a smooth pebble from my last beach walk in my coat pocket. I often just stroke that tactile pebble when I go out for a walk and am instantly transported back to a walk by the ocean, even if I am treading concrete pavements. I also have a keyring from abroad in my purse that brings back happy travel memories every day.
3. Music To Your Ears
Compile -- or buy -- a CD of the (summer) tunes you listened to whilst away. They most likely will not be songs you would normally listen to. Most summer sizzlers are repetitive but catchy one-hit-wonders, but they will transport you back onto that beach in no time and send a few happy endorphins rushing around your body. On a too-long-ago visit to Cuba, I bought a CD from a band I listened to while sitting outside in the sunshine in Havana. Every time I put that music on, my feet start tapping and I cannot help but smile -- and I start hankering for a daiquiri.
4. Get Active
During vacations, we tend to be much more adventurous than at home and often try out new activities, and it is often those which we remember fondly. So, get out of the house and either sign up for a continuation course in surfing, tennis, rock-climbing, or whatever you learned when you were away. Or try something brand new. It will get you out of your normal rut. And you’ll be amazed what you can find in your town. As long as you have a lake or a river, you can stand up paddleboard.
Still staying in? You could learn the language spoken in your favorite international destination from the comfort of home.
5. Eat Well
When abroad, most of us forget all about junk food and enjoy healthy freshly prepared meals and heaps of salads. Once back home, we don’t have the time and will just stop off for fast food on the way home from work. Get some recipes and ingredients that are typical for your favorite destination and, on days off, at least, recreate some of that al fresco feeling. Sit outside, enjoy a cold drink, put your music on, and get back on your vacation for the weekend.
Personally, when I really enjoyed a local cuisine or dish, I either buy a small cookbook -- if I can find one in English -- or Google the recipe while I am still there, just in case I need to buy some local ingredients that are allowed in my suitcase.
Looking for a place to start? Check out these nine travel-inspired cookbooks we actually use.
6. Slather It On
Sunscreen lotions come with a sell-by date and should only be used as protection whilst fresh. But whether your sunscreen is fresh or not, why not use your leftovers as body or hand lotion and let the smell bring back fond memories of the pool and beach? For the next trip, be prepared and buy a special scented soap. Bring it out whenever you are feeling low once back home. Like the sun lotion, the scent will bring memories flooding back. Nothing quite like coconut or frangipani to transport you to foreign shores.
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7. Get Outside
Just 20 minutes of being out in the sun will raise your vitamin D levels and help combat feelings of depression so common during the after-holiday blues. Seek out a park and go for a walk, or -- if you are lucky enough to live near a body of water -- stroll along a beach in the summer dress and floppy hat you bought abroad. Take a picnic. They say you need Vitamin Sea, but D does the trick as well.
8. Pretend To Be A Tourist In Your Hometown
Ray Bradbury, the author of the sci-fi classic The Martian Chronicles, was quoted as saying: “Half of the fun of travel is the aesthetic of lostness.” So, get lost. In the nicest possible way, of course. Plan a day out in your hometown: Look up what visitors would search out, go to a museum, take a route you never have taken before, visit a different area from the ones you know well. Look up a new cafe or restaurant and pop into a souvenir shop.
Do you even know what people bring back from your town? I have done this with a friend before an even put on a silly foreign accent, just for the fun of it. Spend a whole day as if you have never visited your location, and you will be amazed what you will learn and discover. Plus, you’ll come home exhausted and brimming with impressions. Just like you do on your travels.
9. Plan Ahead
There is nothing better than planning your next trip to get you out of those blues. Think about changing your vacation pattern. Instead of leaving for one long trip, plan to have maybe three shorter breaks, this way you will always have something to look forward to in the not-too-distant future. Include weekends away or even just overnight stays in your hometown. Anticipation of and looking forward to an upcoming trip is part of the fun and lifts your mood enormously.
10. Change The Routine
Switch off the TV and go out. Take a different route to work. Rearrange your furniture. Anything to break your normal day-to-day routine. Vacations are all about trying new things, getting away from it all, and living differently for a period of time. A small change in your daily routine will get you out of your current mindset and help banish the blues. Maybe incorporate something you liked on your last trip, such as adding a pop of a favorite new color to your house, wearing a more colorful outfit to work, or not just walking past that restaurant that reminds you of traveling. Pop in and book a table.
11. Analyze The Blues
If nothing helps your feeling unhappy, then maybe it is not the end of the vacation or the lack of travel opportunities that is the problem but your current situation, job, or routine. Write down a list of what it is that makes you so unhappy and commit to changing the things you can one by one. Rather than sinking into feeling low and depressed, take it as an opportunity to make those changes to your life that will make you happier, wherever you are. And then, look forward again.