Several years ago I spent seven months living in France. The country of baguettes, berets and brie became my new home.
One day however, I was forced to return to the United States. I was happy to go home and see my family, drink Northwest microbrews and be with my friends again.
On my flight home however, something strange happened.
As we neared the Seattle airport, the sounds of the airplane went silent; for a moment I was left only with myself and the sensation of descending.
The moment I felt the wheels touch the ground I instantly burst into tears. The woman sitting to my left glanced awkwardly in my direction.
I pulled myself together and made my way into the terminal, forcing a smile when the customs agent said “Welcome Home.”
I managed to climb into my parents’ car, emotionally torn between my “normal” home and my new one in Paris. The following weeks went by and I found myself in a slump; all I wanted was to return to France.
As many great minds have said, sometimes the hardest part about traveling is coming home. We experience so many things, push ourselves outside of our usual comfort zones, and learn more about ourselves as individuals.
Be it a one week trip or a year-long expedition, returning home is difficult. Emotions run high and your life can feel a bit out of control. The good news is, there are solutions!
1. Put some decent hours into making a photo album
It’s time to put the hundreds of photos stored on your computer to good use.
Printing your pictures and turning them into an album full of travel eye-candy not only gives you something to show your family and friends, but it also takes you on a visual trip back through your travels.
Each photo gives you the chance to re-savor the moment that was caught on film.
2. Throw a dinner party
After your photo album is complete you’re going to want to show it off. Use the occasion to put together a themed dinner party, with food and music from your recent travels.
Your friends and family will get a true taste of all the elements that made your travels memorable.
3. Find other travelers
Other travelers have inevitably spent some time on the same emotional rollercoaster. Not only are they more forgiving of sentences that begin with “On my trip..” or “When I was in…” but they also understand the culture shock that you are going through.
4. Find the local expat community
If you’ve spent extended time in another country you may find that you have been seduced by its culture, customs and language.
What used to be foreign now comes as second nature. We sometimes even use the expression “at home” when referring to our host country.
So when back on native soil, it’s time to track down the local expat community of the place you’ve left. Here you can share all the things you loved about the culture with natives, who are equally happy to find an understanding friend in their own host country.
5. Write about it
Keeping a travel journal seems to be a travel tip that a lot of people give. What they don’t tell you is that a post-travel journal can be equally helpful.
Record your experience of culture shock, your joy in reconnecting with friends and family and your difficulty readjusting.
Another method of recovery can be working on travel essays about your trip. Use the occasion to gather and clarify your thoughts and produce some great travel writing.
6. Be there for other travelers
After you’ve gotten through your own post-travel blues, it’s time to help someone else get through theirs. Remember to ask specific questions:
“What were you doing the second to last day of your trip?”
“What was your usual morning routine?”
Stay away from general ones, like “How was your trip?”
The more specific questions you ask, the more likely your fellow returnee will light up and launch into a detailed and interesting travel anecdote.
Don’t stop dreaming
And remember- one of the best ways to recover from post-travel blues is to start planning your next trip!
Any more tips you would add to the list? Share in the comments!
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