How To Enjoy Coming Home As Much As Your Vacation
“I need a vacation from my vacation!”
Sound familiar? This used to be my refrain for years when I’d struggle to regain my equilibrium after an amazing trip to Hawaii, a week in New York City, or a couple of weeks spent car camping with the family.
Have you even returned home from a lovely vacation or journey, only to find yourself exhausted and overwhelmed?
You’re not alone! And, it can be even worse if you’ve been off on a longer adventure.
Transitions are tricky—even when it is about transitioning back into your normal life and routine.
I’ve got Venus in Virgo and I love the feeling of home. I get great satisfaction in creating beauty and order in my personal spaces, being surrounded by my familiar artwork, books, and supplies. I’ve got my altar set up just so, my yoga mat is trustily in its spot, and I know exactly where to find things in the kitchen.
I like visiting my favorite cafes and shops, and encountering familiar and friendly faces while I’m out running errands.
And yet, I also love to get away and visit new places, see how other people live, and gain inspiration by getting out of my little ‘bubble’ of home.
The truth is, as much as I adore the comfort and security of my home space, if I stayed there all the time I’d be bored as heck.
I can appreciate it all so much more after time spent venturing outside of it, even if the journey means couch surfing or moving into a different hotel room every few days. I slip into the spirit of adventure and I like to challenge myself with how peacefully I can roll with whatever arises.
And, let’s face it. Rolling back into town on a Sunday evening and facing a pile of bags to unpack, a mountain of laundry, an empty fridge, stacks of unopened mail—all the while knowing you have to hit the ground running at work the next morning—well, it can be enough to make you want to skip the trip altogether!
(Not quite though—at least not for me).
Nowadays, since I live in the vacation paradise of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, my ‘vacations’ often consist of extended visits to family and friends. Those grand babies grow up fast, so I like to get in some quality time.
Since my life involves a fair amount of time away from my little nest, I’ve developed some tools and practices to ease the pain of that transition—which in turn allow me to savor the memories of my time away more deeply.
If you usually find yourself often feeling that need for ‘a vacation from your vacation’, try out some of these strategies next time you return home to ease your transition back into regular life.
Reduce ‘transition shock’ and spend more time enjoying the present plus the memories!
1. Unpack right away.
There was a time when I’d still be stumbling over an open suitcase in the bedroom a week after my homecoming, and pawing through things in the dark trying to distinguish between clean and dirty clothing. No more.
Make the time to get those clothes unpacked first thing. Put away your toiletries and sundry items so you can feel grounded and truly ‘home’ that much more quickly.
2. Give Yourself a Buffer Day.
If at all possible schedule your trip so that you can return a day early. This gives you plenty of time to get everything put away, get some groceries in, and to get grounded for the work or activities you’ve got on the agenda.
I know—it sucks to lose out on that one extra vacation day, or day of your trip. But it makes all the difference in the world in your reintegration and peace of mind after your return.
3. Take a little ‘Cocooning’ Time.
This one comes from my friend and coaching colleague Margaret Nash. She’s a big fan of cocooning during transition, and it makes sense. That’s what reintegration is all about.
If you’ve given yourself that buffer day, carve out an hour or two to simply veg out. Watch a movie, read a book, scroll through your photos, take a nap. Any transition, big or small, requires some quiet downtime to integrate the changes.
Far too often we are racing ahead of ourselves to the next thing, and it’s a super shame. We short ourselves on the enjoyment of what we’ve just experienced. Thumb your nose at the cultural demands to always be ‘ON” and busy. Get into that cocoon for an hour or a day!
4. Stay In Touch.
Sometimes it can feel a bit melancholy to be back in the same old routine after a fun and satisfying trip.
Met a new friend on your journey Send them a quick email so you can stay connected and keep the conversation going. Left dear friends or family behind? Send them a couple of photos, or schedule a call to take the sting out of feeling so far away.
5. Organize and delete photos.
This goes along with resisting the urge to quickly move onto the next thing. If you’re like most people you snapped dozens, if not hundreds, of photos on your smartphone while on your trip. Take some time as soon as possible after your return to go through them, delete the duds, and perhaps edit the good ones. Send a few to your new friends or loved ones if that feels good.
You might want to organize the best of the best into a folder in your photo app or hard drive so you can actually find those awesome shots of the craziest looking church you’ve ever seen to show to your best friend.
6. Plan Some Activities.
If you live alone, and/or are retired, ease the feeling of loneliness or boredom that can follow your arrival at home, by pre-scheduling some visits with friends during the days following your return.
Play tourist in your hometown and plan a visit to a museum or state park. Book some tickets to a performance happening on the weekend after you get back. The last thing you want is to be rattling around your house wishing you were still away.
7. Clean your place before you go.
Don’t fly out the door with stacks of dirty dishes on the kitchen counter, and piles of clothes on the bed (you know, the ones you tried on while packing and rejected.)
Arriving home to a clean and clear space will go a long way to easing ‘transition shock’ and getting you back into the swing of things. So, even though it’s always a flurry to get everything ready and get on the road, factor in a little time to clean things up. You’ll thank yourself when you get back.
Honestly, I think the most important strategy for easing back into life is to resist the urge to instantly get busy, busy, busy. Many of us feel a certain level of guilt for spending time in simple enjoyment of life. Such a thing is so frowned on in our culture.
Even if you’re like, “Hell no! I don’t feel guilty about taking a well-deserved vacation!,” check yourself. You might still might be subconsciously attempting to make up for ‘lost’ time. If you are already burning the candle at both ends the very day you get home, return to Tip #3, and give yourself the gift of some cocooning.
Take a bath, go to bed an hour earlier, or sit outside in your yard saying hello to the familiar plants.
We are here to enjoy the journey… AND the homecoming.