I have a bad habit of crying on airplanes. Not the hysterical kind of crying that you’d see from someone who’s convinced the plane is about to crash. These tears are more like the silent type – you know, the type that dramatically rolls down your cheek in slow-motion. If my life was a movie, this is a scene that would be filmed in contrasty black and white, accompanied by a lilting violin instrumental to really punctuate the dramaticism.
Alas, my life is not a movie and the only background noise is the plane’s engine roaring at take-off. As the plane lifts higher and higher into the sky, I get hit more and more by the realization that inspired the tears in the first place…
“Crap, I have to go back to real life now.”
Who else knows that feeling? I think we all get hit with a case of post-vacation blues, whether it’s only a subtle feeling of, “Sucks that it’s over” or absolute dread of returning to routine.
Here are the ways I cope with the post-vacation blues. I hope this post helps anyone else who is currently experiencing that unmistakable “back to reality” sadness.
“Treat yo self” in the upcoming days.
Heading back to work or school after a vacation (particularly a longer one) can be stressful. So many emails to respond to! So much work to catch up on! Gotta get it all done now, now, now!
First, take a deep breath. Then, combat the inevitable post-vacation blues at work by planning some treats for yourself. My favorites include hot baths, one (or a few) really delicious chocolate bars, and allowing myself to engage in guilty pleasures like rom-coms or reality TV. Catching up on old seasons of “Are You the One?” has been my most recent guilty pleasure.
Take the time to catch up on the fun stuff.
Alright, so you’ve caught up on all of your work. While you’re at it, don’t forget to catch up on the fun stuff.
Pencil in some time to watch new episodes of your favorite TV show, listen to that new album by your favorite artist or catch up with the friend who had a birthday while you were away. When you’re feeling blue, remind yourself of all those fun things that wait for you when you return from a great vacation.
Keep your schedule free.
I’m 100% an introvert, so your mileage here may vary. Personally, I’ve learned that any time I’ve been in a stimulating environment (lots of people, sounds, or social plans), I need time afterward to decompress. I love adventures and exploration and talking to others, but after a while, my entire body is uncomfortably over-buzzed and I need a moment of calm.
You probably understand what I mean if you’re also an introvert. And you probably also know the true joys of entering sloth-mode, where you bundle up in warm clothes and hang out on the couch with a good book. If this works for you as well as it does for me, then let’s rejoice and be sloths together!
(Or) plan fun adventures close to home.
After spending a few days in sloth mode, I’m ready to emerge from the couch and start planning fun adventures close to home. Try out a new restaurant. Or maybe take a day trip to somewhere close-by you’ve never explored.
Even something as simple as taking a new route to work can break up the monotony and help you escape from the “rut” of returning back home.
Even taking a walk to do some quick window shopping can work wonders. You never know what strange delights you’ll find in the display windows, like my surfing monkey buddy pictured above.
Journal it out.
Writing about the trip is not only therapeutic for me, but it also brings me back to the moment. (That’s one of the reasons why I started this blog!)
In my own journal, I rant about the frustrations of returning back to a routine after a vacation. I talk about my favorite memories of the trip. I spend paragraphs upon paragraphs trying to describe and relive the sensation of eating something amazing…
But when it comes to journaling about food, I have to be really careful not to drool on the pages. It’s hard, okay?
Plus, if you’re looking for a great travel journal, I have the perfect recommendation for you.
Look back on photos from the trip.
Ahhhh – time to reminisce.
Personally, whenever I look at photos from a vacation, it seems to extend the “high” a little bit longer. By looking through the photos, I’m brought back to that magical moment in time. I can almost feel the sun on my back again… or maybe that’s just the heater that’s aimed at my head… ahem. Anyway.
When was the last time you took a moment to print out a few of the photos that are sitting on your phone? Take some time to curate your favorite travel memories, and then place them into a photo album as a keepsake.
Gotta take my own advice by looking through photos of this sunny afternoon in San Diego more often. I still haven’t hopped on one of these Lime scooters. (A crime, I say.)
Start planning the next trip.
Sometimes, moving on is the best option. In fact, research has suggested that simply the act of planning for a vacation can make you happier.
I already spend way too much time on Pinterest checking out travel inspiration, so I’m not sure if it’s a good thing to encourage this habit… but hey, if it could be making me happier, why not?
Pin this for later?
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase a product using my link, I receive a small commission. All opinions are my own.
What do you do to cope with the post-vacation blues?
Let me know in the comments below.