You know that sulking feeling you get on your last day or two of vacation? That moment when reality sinks in and it hits you like a ton of bricks that you’ll be back in the real world all too soon and you have a seemingly insurmountable pile of emails waiting for you? Welcome to postpartum travel depression in the digital age. Or as we like to call it, the “OMG how did vacation end so soon” blues.
Travel gives us the much-needed chance to recharge our batteries. A change of pace is extremely important to maintaining a positive outlook and keeping spirits up throughout the year -- it's a break from routine. But the travel highs don’t have to result in super low lows once you’re back home.
Before You Go: Know Thyself
If you tend to get really depressed when a long trip is coming to an end (especially knowing you burned through all your vacation days for the year), consider planning a series of mini-trips instead. Many people find that strategically spaced long weekends -- three or four days at a time -- work better than one big trip for relieving stress. However long you venture off for though, planning a trip should never add more stress to your workload. If you’re bugging out about costs or spending hours researching before you go, consider hiring a travel agent to do it for you or book a tour where all the logistics are already organized. With everyday lives already so scheduled, you'll want to make sure not to overschedule your vacation or it won’t feel like a break. It's good to go with a rough outline of what you want to do, but be sure to leave plenty of free time to stumble upon hidden gems while you’re there.
While You’re Gone: Digital Detox
In order to leave as much stress as possible at the door, cut off all unnecessary communication from work. Sometimes it’s hard to fathom, but life will in fact go on while your "out of office" message is on. If you train your company to believe that you’re really and truly unavailable, they will eventually stop nagging you about insignificant things (lessons from the Four Hour Work Week). Be present and immersed in the moment. So rarely are we focused on just what’s in front of us rather than everything else nagging on our to-do lists. It’s those moments that truly inspire joy and serenity.
Once You’re Back: Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder
If you come home on a vacation high, share your pictures on social media so can always relive the trip when you need a little pick me up. Just going back through old photos can flood your memories with happy thoughts and take you back to that place and time. More importantly though, before you even takeoff, plan something fun to do at home the first week or two you’re back so you still have something to look forward to. Find a new town to explore, a new mountain to climb, a new trail to bike. Make sure to invite friends or family because making memories with loved ones is what life is all about. To quote the profound lyrics of Lee Ann Womack, “when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.” Just because you’re not jet setting doesn’t mean you can’t have adventures right in your own backyard. I always keep a running bucket list of activities and restaurants to try in my home state and vow to do at least one new thing every month.