How to recover from long-haul flights…and beat the post-trip blues


Photo credit: David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott via photopin cc

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.

3. Exercise

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!

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

Articles: 1181

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