There is nothing more utterly soul sucking then coming home from a vacation. After our trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast last summer, I stood at my all office meeting at 8AM on my first day back at work with my mouth agape and brain scrambled like a zombie. Had I really traded in magical cliffs dotted with pastel houses along the cerulean Mediterranean for this? How could I keep the spirit of travel and wanderlust alive without going AWOL and quitting my job to cocktail waitress on an island somewhere? Thankfully, I’ve returned from enough adventures and survived enough travel withdrawal to share a few tried and true ways to keep your vacation bliss alive, long after you’ve returned to harsh reality.
Create a Soundtrack
Before your trip even starts, create a playlist for the journey. It doesn’t have to be location specific, although there’s something special about listening to Pavoratti sing Nessun Dorma in Italy. Just include some of your favorite songs of the moment, and listen to them during your trip. Months later, if you hear one of those songs, you’ll feel transported to that exotic locale and vacation experience. Certain songs still remind me of a trip to England we took over 10 years ago because I listened to them while on the tube or driving along the countryside. “Lola Stars and Stripes” by the Stills will start playing,and I’m instantly a 13 year old rocking my Converse and North Face fanny pack and utterly in awe of my first trip to Europe. Nothing beats that instant does of nostalgia.
Put Pen to Paper
I mentioned it in this post, but the best way (in addition to photos) to remember your vacation after it’s long gone is through a travel journal. Each night, no matter how exhausted you are from that pub crawl or climbing those ruins, journal what you did that day. What travelers did you meet? What were their names? What did you smell, see and hear? Did something hilarious happen? Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try to commit these experiences to memory, eventually the details are replaced with the tedium of daily life like that expense report you need to file or the date of the wedding you have to attend next spring. Take the thirty minutes to write each night, and your future self will be grateful. Travel journals to get you started:
Create a Travel Toiletry Collection
Since I mentioned free souvenirs, make like a klepto and snag some of the hotel toiletries. Now, I’m not just being cheap and suggesting you pocket these to only save money. Using them will also remind you of fabulous hotel life and give you a taste of luxury in your sparse studio apartment bathroom. Our hotel in Praiano’s toiletries had such beautiful packaging, so I stuffed as many as I could in my bag and indulge in the lotions and potions whenever I’m sick of drab Midwestern living. Candles are another great purchase, as their scent will carry you to more wanderlust worthy locations.
Really, Erin, hang photos? Now, I know I probably sound like captain obvious, but if you’re going to take hundreds of photos (70% selfies if you’re me), you need to put them on display! Usually I’ll post to Instagram with the appropriate 20 hashtags, but then after a few weeks I’ve forgotten about my excessively filtered snaps. Let your photos adorn your walls and nightstand, so when you catch a glimpse of them, you can sate a little wanderlust. The below frames and clips are affordable and whimsical enough to showcase your adventures.
If you can’t go another trip any time soon, why not live vicariously through travel bloggers? The Londoner is always jetting off to another corner of the world, and Adventurous Kate and Alex in Wanderland write memorable and informative posts from a female solo traveler’s point of view. In short, there’s no shortage of travel writing and photography available online to consume and satisfy your voracious wanderlust appetite.
Plan Your Next Trip!
So what if it’s a year away, give yourself something to look forward to! Even if it’s a short road trip or night in a hotel in your home city, plan an escape from the ordinary to keep the real world soul sucking at bay. If you’re on a budget, plan a themed night at home. Cook an exotic recipe, read through your travel journal and kick back with a foreign film. A little armchair wanderlust will go a long way, and before you know it, it will be time for your next departure!