After weeks or months of all day face-time in exotic destinations-along with the intimacy (good and bad) that it creates-going back to the drudgery of cubicle life can put a serious damper on even the strongest relationships.
But just because you spend most nights zoned out in front of the TV instead of gazing into each other’s eyes doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship has puckered out.
Relationships evolve just like people; there are highs and lows, times when you look at your partner and see your soul mate and times when you see an annoying person who won’t leave you alone.
Wondering how to keep the highs around more often? Here are six tips for keeping the (wander)lust alive in the face of post-travel blues.
1. Relax. You’re still together.
Instead of losing sleep over whether you’ve lost that special spark, look at the first few months back home as a transition period. Existential crises during this sensitive time-particularly regarding relationships-are not productive.
Think of it this way: the two of you survived bumpy buses, bedbugs, diarrhea and travel fatigue; are you really worried that a little case of the nine-to-fives is going to do you in?
Relax and remember that you’ve made it this far. If your relationship is doomed, you’ll figure it out-but don’t make major decisions during the flux and flow of the first weeks back home.
2. Do not fear the funk.
After the initial excitement of seeing friends and family wears off, a little post-adventure depression is only natural.
Don’t be surprised if your partner seems a little mopey, or if you get grouchy and irritable over petty matters.
The post-travel funk can be something you bond over instead of something that builds walls between you.
The best way to defeat the funk is to stay busy with social activities and find stuff to look forward to, like a weekend trip to see out-of-town friends or a cool art opening.
Nothing is going to change the fact that you’re at home instead of on the road, but plenty of couples find happiness without ever leaving the city; you can be one of them (for a little while, anyway).
3. Sprinkle reminders of your travels everywhere you look.
You don’t have to redecorate your entire apartment in the style of African-savannah-chic, but stashing a few keepsakes from your travels on the bookshelves or coffee table will help provide a constant reminder of the wonderful journey you experienced together.
Practical items-such as salad tongs (a set of handcarved wooden ones, for example), embroidered napkins (because you were planning to go paper-less anyway), candle holders, bookends, ceramic bowls, and handcrafted baskets-are both useful and nostalgic.
And don’t let those digital pics languish on your hard drive-print ’em, frame ’em and hang ’em up.
The most beautiful or professional shots aren’t necessarily the best ones to display; instead, choose the ones that remind you of a funny story or a romantic moment.
Now you’ll never forget the time your partner lost his flipflop under the train in India and had to go barefoot in Calcutta, or that one unbelievable sunset at the Pyramids.
4. Stage a reenactment.
I know: you can never truly recreate that grilled fish at the tiny beach shack in Belize or the Panang curry on Koh Tao.
But with a little imagination it’s not hard to manage an approximation closer to home. You can find hundreds of thousands of recipes online, and most big cities now stock ingredients for Indian and Asian cooking.
Add a little Belizean rum or some Thai pop songs to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a nice little scene-minus the mosquitoes and mangy street dogs.
Your friends will be impressed with your newfound culinary skills, and nothing says “I still love you” like homemade samosas with coconut chutney. Mmmm.
5. Take short trips closer to home.
Too tied down to travel far? Take a weekend road trip, spend a few days camping in a nearby park, or be a traveler in your own town.
Leases and jobs don’t have to prevent you from making the most of your free time. By getting back into “travel mode” every now and then, you can rekindle the special relationship sparks that fire up when you’re on the move.
Short trips help inject a bit of travel lust back into the everyday grind, making the work week that much easier to get through.
Which brings us to our final tip:
6. Start planning for the next Big One.
It’s never too soon to squirrel away savings and get on your boss’ good side (so she doesn’t fire your butt on the spot when you ask for two months off next year).
Don’t fret about plane tickets or itineraries just yet-don’t even worry about where you’ll go. Save that stress for later. In the meantime, just knowing that there will be a next trip, and fantasizing about it with your partner, is enough to keep the happy-juice flowing.
Nothing beats the back-home relationship blahs like sharing the excitement of your future travels together. Keep the globe spinning and your minds a-whirl, and you and your partner will beat the blahs together.