co-written/edited by Yoli Ouiya
We all know that taking a vacation requires some pre-departure planning, but what about planning for after the trip ends? Re-entry after a trip is not something most people plan for. You’ve spent a week (or more) treating yourself and disconnecting from work, and coming home can be quite a jolt to your relaxed state-of-mind. Plan for some self-care before you even leave. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Obviously, jet lag. If you’ve crossed two or more time zones, your body clock may be affected when it comes to sleep and mealtimes. The most important thing to do to fight jet lag is staying hydrated during and after your flight. Start to adjust to your new time zone the day before you leave. If you must nap, set an alarm for 90 minutes, otherwise you run the risk of getting a full REM-cycle of sleep and not being tired enough for bedtime.
Culture shock is something that still happens to seasoned travelers. It’s not just for 19-year-olds on a volunteer trip. For family, friends, and co-workers who didn’t travel with you, life has gone on as normal, and even though you might feel connected thanks to social media, you’ve also missed out on some things back home. I remember coming home from one trip and being utterly confused at what a Pizza Rat was. When you experience day-to-day frustrations after re-entry, try to be mindful that this is a form of culture shock and share your feelings with someone you trust.
You don’t want to come home to chores the day you come back. Before starting your trip, make sure your house will be clean on your return, make a dent in the laundry pile, and have a plan for your first two meals upon return. It’s rare that vacationers eat exactly as they do at home, so those first re-entry meals can serve as a transition back to your usual food routines, as well as a familiar comfort to help deal with some of the culture-shock.
I just got back from two weeks in Europe, so what did my re-entry week look like, apart from my 9-to-5? I caught a cold on the plane, so Sunday and Monday were spent nursing myself on the couch with soup and my DVR. Tuesday was unpacking and laundry from the trip. Wednesday was a big-box run. Thursday was programming new cable boxes and a grocery delivery. (Even jet-setting singletons have daily drudgery sometimes. It’s not all room service and selfies by the Eiffel Tower.) And Friday entailed drinks with friends to catch up since my trip.
Your mileage may vary. Self-care for you might mean re-connecting with friends and family as soon as you land. Or you might find washing dishes or folding laundry therapeutic – getting back into your routine. Or a pedicure might be in order. Plan for something that’s comforting and low-impact, because even though you’ve got to snap back to reality at some point, that doesn’t need to be at the arrivals hall.