Jet Lag. We all know the feeling: you just got back from a great trip and now it’s back to “real” life.
I love the buildup leading up to our next big trip: learning the language, researching the new food, planning what to see and when. It is such a rush! But once our passport reentry is stamped, and the luggage collected, and laundry started, the blues sets in: the Post Trip Blues.
Jet lag: Returning from our latest adventure to Cambodia (a 24 hour endeavor). It was Jet Lag 2 vs. Fighting Couple 0. Exhaustion sets in during the day, and we were wide awake at the unseemly morning hours. We felt like we had the flu: stomachs upset from adjusting to our native fare, dizzy, and thinking in a fog. We transformed from the fighting couple to the grumpy couple!
The Learning Let Down: For us, our trips are an academic exercise. Every waking hour is engaged in learning new things, meeting new people, eating new things, adjusting to new challenges. Then, once we get home…not so much.
The Left Overs: Both Luci and I have pretty fast paced and demanding jobs. Upon our return, we face hundreds of emails, fires to put out, and fires to start. Then we have our kids who haven’t seen us in two weeks and we have to “peel” them off of us because they missed us!
At times we even question why we do this to ourselves.
The Secret to beating the Jet Lag!
So what’s our secret to beat the post trip blues? We don’t have one. The fact is-You travel so you can get away from home and coming back home means going back to “normal life.” But we have found a few things that seem to help a little.
The Nasty jet lag. Step one is rest at the right times. This is hard, especially when your time change is significant. Our Cambodia trip put us 13 hours at odds with our home time. Resist the temptation to get up at 2 a.m. and do work. (Luci woke up and did work.) It’s only going to make it worse. Likewise, you must avoid the 2 p.m. naps. (Luci also took naps) Take it easy on the caffeine. (Luci likes Pepsi.) Drink your water. Our secret, if there is one, is sunlight. Luci take hers via melatonin pills and vitamins, I prefer walks or some tennis. Getting some sun tells the body that it’s day now and get with the program! USA Today recently had an article supporting sunlight therapy.
The Learning Let Down: This is a tough one. The one thing that we really enjoy is to inflict our friends when we get home with a “trip report party.” We invite a bunch of friends over, and share a few of our pictures, cook up some of the local cuisine (last year we brought back Eurocream from Bosnia and made crepes) and discuss what we saw. Not sure why people keep coming back to these because we can’t think of anything worse than looking at other people’s vacation pictures, but we have some really great friends and they ask about it every year. Plus, it helps us process what we saw and tie it all together. Once we land, we start putting together pictures and share some self-reflection on how what we saw has affected us. We highly recommend a trip report party because you get to share the world with your friends and encourage them to travel!
The Left Overs: It ceases to amaze us, every time we get back; there is two weeks’ worth of work awaiting us. We call it hitting the “post trip wall.” One of our little strategies to deal with the immersion is to hit the office in the afterhours. Email is kind of like the timeline of what you missed, so start with the most recent first. You may find out that half the problems emailed to you in week one of your trip are solved by week two. You also get a synopsis of what happened while you were gone, so when you do face folks in person, you have a reference as to what they are talking about. We have great coworkers, and they all want to know if we actually ate dog or cat on our trips and all the skinny on what happened, so getting a head start lets us be much more personal when we go back. Also, don’t make any major decisions the first few days back to work. You won’t be right in the head, so don’t risk your job.
Then, there are the kids….. 1000fights’ mission is to get couples to leave their children at home and take a trip. You love your children and they love you, but you’ll love them more after the trip. Getting accumulated to the kids, takes time. Expect a few of your children to punish you. When our girls were little, I remember one of our daughters being so mad at us when we returned. At first, she ignored us and then she yelled at us over silly things. This phase will pass. To ease reentry back to the family, do some snooping. The fact is, your kids aren’t going to tell you everything that happened while you were gone. Go through every one of my children’s worksheets from school, call the piano teacher or baseball coach and ask how things went. Also do a thorough debrief with grandma or who watched your kids. You’ll find things were fine while you were gone, but it doesn’t mean your kids didn’t miss you! Most important, share what you learned from your trip. It’s therapy for you and it’s a great social studies less for your kids.
So what is your secret for dealing with the post trip blues? What works for you? Never underestimate the power of a good fight to help as well! Next time your are Glasgow, check out the Windsor Hotel. Glasgow has been called the style capital of Scotland. It plays host to 13 plus free museums! It also sports over 70 parks and gardens, great for walking that jet lag away.