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.
Let’s take on the first symptom:
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.
Great tips! If really need to fight the urge to take a 2 pm nap (and do not have any pressing matters), I start a new tv series that day. Especially melodramatic and embarrassingly addicting ones…it’s the quickest way to get to bedtime.
Didn’t think of the tv series idea…That is a really, really great idea! Thanks Ryan
I absolutely HATE re-entry from a trip, but since I travel quite a bit, here are a few things that help me:
1. Always be planning the next trip. Literally, I’ll be on the plane returning with friends and start discussing where we’re going next, knowing I can jump into phase one as soon as I get back (or as soon as I get unburied).
2. Don’t overschedule for the first few days back – give yourself some leeway, let work hit you as it may, without knowing you have 6 back to back appointments you’ve committed to.
3. Eat healthy foods and drink alot of water – for me, that makes up for all of the gorging on food and wine while I travel and makes that post-trip flu feeling go away.
4. Make yourself go to bed at your normal time – even if you wake up early, even if you are dead tired in the middle of the day, try to get back on your schedule.
5. Don’t feel the laundry needs to be done day 1 – sometimes I let it sit in the suitcase for days on our landing without even opening the bag. Surely you have other clothes to wear in the meantime?
6.Reach out to friends – instead of missing those you just left, focus on seeing those you missed while you were away.
7. And although I absolutely hate to admit or advocate this, for me, I’d rather pop onto my email once a day on a trip from my iPad than have to face the hundreds of things waiting for me upon my return. With one caveat – tell people you won’t know if you’ll be able to check, and only respond to those things you really have to. I find the late afternoon rest time on a trip perfect for doing this without infringing on our trip at all
8. Create a photo book the first week you are back – that’s when everything is freshest in your memory, but it also lets you relive it a bit, come down slowly from the rush of being there.
9. Blog about the trip – sort of like the photo book, but it forces you to share what’s important to readers who might want to take a similar trip, and that forces me to really think about the best parts of the trip.
10. Catch up on TV – sounds mundane, but grabbing the last two weeks of Mad Men or Grey’s Anatomy is just the kind of mindless activity that lets me relax and feel that I’m back home in the US.
That’s my top 10 – hope you can use some of these!
Thanks Michele! What great advice. #6 is so important. Agree on #8 as well. Luci uses shutterfly and has made some great books to share with friends.
I set a date for the next trip and jump right into planning it — helps take the sting outta coming home. :)
This is a great idea!
Great tips. The only thing that works for me though is immersing myself in planning my next trip. Thankfully, I’m easily distracted :)
I notice that I don’t get post trip blues as much anymore. I actually get excited to return home because I love where we live so much. But these are definitely great tips and the work load is always a little tough when returning. I’m still catching up from our return from Italy 2 weeks ago. It sounds like our cat acts just like a child would when we return. She is very mad at us for a week or so and then she is back to normal. :)
Thanks for the read. The worse is when you are on a long trip (like 10 months). Coming back home is so hard! They say it takes your as long as your away plus another half of that to start to feel “normal” again. I beg to differ. You will never feel the same as you did before you leave for a long trip because with new experiences comes a new view on life. I wrote a piece to help those who have just come back from a trip as well. Hope it help! http://hopscotchtheglobe.com/2011/09/24/so-youve-returned-home-after-traveling-the-world-now-what/
I like to hang out with old friends to catch up on what’s been happening in their lives, hosting a dinner party is a great way to warm the house up again too.
I have to say — I get sooo bogged down in my normal life that travel rejuvenates me in every way. I love the adrenaline! But every once in awhile I get hit with the worst jet lag and vow to never ever travel again. It’s amazing what a physical terror it can be. (I always get over it.) And I don’t even have kids!!
I still have the post trip blues some 7 years after my RTW. I regularly pine for those days again. But at least I did it and that is what consoles me when I see others who have barely left the town where they were born.
I cant image what it would be like to get back into stationary life after a RTW. Not easy, I am sure. One positive is all the great memories made.
Abby-I am with you! I miss the adrenaline rush of being in a place where:
1)you don’t know anyone. You are miles and miles away from anyone you know.
2)You don’t speak the language.
3)you are eating food, seeing places, and hearing words that you have no idea about!
Seeing the friends again is a huge pick me up. That is till they ask you what you bought them!
I know this is going to sound crazy…but I miss my car!
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