As a follow-up article to our comprehensive feature about staying fresh on long-haul flights, here are some ideas for how to cope with coming home again.
Returning to the daily grind after visiting a far-flung destination can take its toll both physically and mentally, but you’re unlikely to get much sympathy from those around you. In fact it’s more likely to be along the lines of “what on earth do you have to complain about, anyway? You just had the trip of a lifetime and we were stuck here coping with the 9-5. Get over it!”
But we feel your pain. Oh yes, we know what you’re going through – so listen up…
The physical side of things
1. Sleep is your friend – embrace her
There are arguments about whether jet lag actually exists as a condition, but tiredness is real. Forget all the stuff about time differences and directions of travel, what you are definitely going to be feeling is some degree of exhaustion. We were not built to go from one place to another at 500 miles an hour in a metal tube; your body will remind you of that.
It’s great if you catch a nap on the plane but if you want to recover a quickly as possible you need to sleep as best you can on your return. Make sure you have a decent mattress – you realise how much of your life you will spend there, right?
2. Rest is almost as good as sleep
If you wake during the night don’t get up right away, keep the room dark and rest instead. Hopefully you’ll sleep again but if not, just relaxing will help. I’ve recently started using relaxation music and a good pair of in-ear headphones and found that this helps me to doze off again faster.
Swimming is my activity of choice but any rigourous exercise works – you’ll feel better for it and it will also tire you out, thus helping you fall asleep more easily in the evening.
4. Try to have a full day to recover
This is never easy, but if you can put off a return to work for a day it will be better for all concerned.
5. Get a massage
Again, this is a bit of a luxury but will really help you get over the hours of sitting still on the plane. A lot of spas offer some kind of “jet lag killer” treatment but for me a proper Thai massage is hard to beat.
The mental side of things
6. Plan for your next trip
It’s common advice for a reason – get over the post-trip comedown by starting to plan your next one. Having something to look forward to will make work seem less gruesome.
7. Start saving for your next trip
At the same time, begin putting money away or at least plan how you are going to do so. This will help it all seem a little more real rather than a pipe dream.
8. Edit all those damn photos
That memory card full of snaps from the place you just got back from? Open it up and edit the pictures and/or video clips before they get forgotten. Who knows, maybe someone else would like to see them too?
9. Practice your photography and video skills
Spend some of your free time honing your ability with your camera so that your photos and video will be even better next time.
10. Explore your home town
You don’t have to travel far to be a tourist – you can explore your own town and its surroundings, working on your photography skills at the same time.
Hopefully these tips will be of some help next time you return from abroad – if you have any to add, do let us know in the comments. Happy travels!