In need of some practical travel advice before your first big trip? Have a travel dilemma you’re trying to unpack? Looking for inspiration for future adventures? Well, we’re here to help. Our resident “agony aunt” is ready to answer all your burning travel questions with our new series, Travel Unravelled.
We’re kicking things off with a look at how to cope with post-holiday blues, for those that are struggling to adjust to reality after some extended time away. We also help you prepare for your next adventure, with some inspiring travel reads to add to your library.
How do you adjust to normal life after a long trip? I just got home from Mexico and am really missing both travel and everyone I met. It’s sad being home… how do you deal with it?
Ah yes, I’m more than familiar with the post-travel blues. It’s tough to say goodbye – to people and places – and I totally understand how you’re feeling. To answer your question, I didn’t cope at all when I came home from my own trip to Mexico, not in the beginning at least. I came back to the middle of European winter, with no money and no job. To put it simply, reality was tough! I watched in extreme envy as all my new-found friends continued their travels, crossing the border into Guatemala and further into Central and South America. I was also painfully aware that I am usually THAT PERSON to all my family and friends at home and wouldn’t be getting a lot of sympathy after my big trip away.
My first piece of advice is to be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up about missing everyone and feeling upset. Travel is emotional in general – you’re constantly meeting new people, navigating unfamiliar environments, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and experiencing new and amazing things each day (often hungover and sleep-deprived). It’s a fun but intense time, so it makes sense that the highs are high and the lows are low. There’s a reason why a one-week travel romance feels like months in the “real world”.
In terms of more practical travel advice, I know it’s not always possible, but I like to have my next adventure planned (even if it isn’t officially booked yet) so that I have something to look forward to. If you really vibed with a certain place, who says you have to let it go completely? You can continue to learn the language, take up salsa classes, order a michelada or try your hand at some Mexican cooking back home.
It’s also easy to look back at things with rose-tinted glasses, but chances are you had more than a few moments of homesickness, frustration or exhaustion while you were away. Lean into the things you missed about home – see your friends, eat your favourite food, cuddle up to your pets, and enjoy having your own room and hot shower again. Coming back from a long trip can feel like a breakup and my advice for both is ultimately the same: give it time, do what makes you feel good and avoid the things that don’t. Things will feel normal soon, your bank balance will recover and then it’s time to jump on a plane and do it all over again!
Are there any books that inspired you to travel? What are some of your favourite travel reads?
Great question! I never travel without a book on hand for long train journeys or some time to myself at the hostel. Even if you’re not travelling, books are such a great way to escape and get excited about your next trip. I’ve included some of my favourites below, but I also recommend Ann Morgan’s list A Year of Reading the World, which has book recommendations for every country.
Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes
I picked this one up just before a trip to Tuscany. It did take a little while to get into, but I was hooked once I arrived and started to experience the Tuscan countryside for myself. Sitting on the terrace of the 13th-century monastery I was staying in, I could now fully appreciate the detailed descriptions of ancient stone walls, old farmhouses, olive trees and rolling green hills. It’s a love letter to a place that feels so unchanged by time and has some amusing moments of cultural confusion and misunderstandings along the way.
Wild, Cheryl Strayed
You’ve probably heard of this one thanks to the Reese Witherspoon film, but it’s worth the read whether you’re into hiking or not. I read it after hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. While the Camino is much more luxurious than the PCT, I could relate to Cheryl’s tales of painful blisters, physical exhaustion and a complete lack of preparation for the trek ahead.
The Drifters, James A. Michener
I’ve mostly included memoirs here, so here’s a fictional tale to balance things out. Published in 1971, The Drifters tells the story of six disenchanted youths exploring Spain, Portugal, Mozambique and Morocco together (on minimal or non-existent funds). It’s set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and celebrates the joy of exploring unseen places, choosing a different path, connecting with strangers, and the thrill of being young and carefree.
Jungle, Yossi Ghinsberg
Ok, this may seem like an odd choice considering this book is about Yossi Ginsberg’s time spent stranded in a remote part of the Amazon jungle… but his recollections of La Paz in the early 80s made me instantly want to book a flight to South America. Yossi perfectly captures that thirst for adventure and spontaneity that bonds many travellers and offers an incredible account of a corner of the world untouched by humans.
Mao’s Last Dancer, Li Cunxin
This is also not your traditional travel book, but it is an eye-opening account of life as a rural peasant in communist China. When Li is plucked from his village and sent to Madame Mao’s Dance Academy in Beijing, he is offered the chance to spend six weeks studying at the Houston Ballet in Texas. Li’s descriptions of boarding a plane, experiencing capitalist America for the first time, trying to learn English and adjusting to life overseas get to the heart of what it means to explore a different world and culture.
Whether you’re worried about heading home or looking to spice up your e-reader library, we hope this has helped! If you’d like Travel Unravelled to give you some travel advice, drop us a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!