Aren’t vacations great? All the plans and reservations are made and you finally get to go visit that place you’ve dreamed of. What a blast!
Then it’s time to go home. No more evening strolls through Paris. No more glasses of hearty local wine in Italy. No more local pubs in Great Britain or neon-lit streets in Tokyo. No more beach time. It’s all just…gone. Thankfully you did that all pain-free with your Z-CoiLs though, right?
What’s back is your normal life with all its familiar routines. For better or for worse the end of a vacation puts your regular life in stark contrast to the exciting vacation experiences you just had.
How on earth do you transition back to real life? When you’re yo-yoing between time zones, exhaustion, over-excitement, relief, and depression, how do you find your equilibrium again? Here are a few easy tricks.
Plan Your Arrival Home Before You Go
If you’re like most people, you’ll spend your vacation staying in hotels, VRBOs, or bed and breakfasts. What do all those things have in common? They are tidy. When you come home to your house, it will look cluttered and noticeably un-tidy—which can make you feel resentful and bogged down with things that need to be done.
Clean before you go. Even if you have to hire a maid service to do it, clean and de-clutter your house. You’ll thank yourself later.
Likewise, plan something for dinner the day you arrive home before you leave. Make it and freeze it or just have the ingredients handy.
If your vacation is a long one, your fridge may be bare when you get home. Arrange for grocery delivery when you get back, or have a friend stock your fridge with a list of staples. It will make you feel much more at home to open the fridge and see normal.
If your work is deadline-based, plan your vacation for between deadlines so the pressure is off. You don’t want to be juggling deadlines while hiking Machu Pichu or lying sprawled in the sun on the deck of a cruise ship. When you get back, try to sort out the big picture of your job first. Did anything major change? What are your highest priority deadlines? Get busy on those rather than getting caught up in the endless minutiae that your inbox will be full of.
Also, if at all possible, try to arrive home before a weekend so you have a couple days to unwind before heading back to the office.
Most vacations mean being a bit freer with your fat/calorie/alcohol/sugar/all-the-good-stuff intake. You know it’s true. You can’t eat your way from one side of Spain to the other without it showing up in your waistline, skin, and GI tract.
When you arrive home, take a week to eat healthy. Hit the leafy greens and raw fruits and veggies. Drink water like your life depends on it (since it does…). Go sit in the sauna or work out extra-long to help your body sweat out the toxins it needs to get rid of.
Re-establishing normal sleep can be tricky, so try to eat foods that will increase your melatonin (make you sleepy) and serotonin (make you relaxed):
Plan Your Arrival Home Before You Travel Home
There are a few simple things you can do before heading home that will make your arrival home much less stressful. Pre-sort your dirty laundry as you pack. Or, if you’re staying in a place with its own laundry facilities (like a VRBO), do your laundry so you arrive home with clean clothes.
You can also build a care package of souvenirs and goodies from your trip and mail it to yourself. It will arrive home a few days after you do and give you a boost of happy memories from your trip.
Vacations should be satisfying to go on, but coming home should be satisfying too. With a little forethought, you can cut out much of the preventable chaos and set yourself up for a peaceful and happy return to reality.