One minute we’re having the time of our lives on vacation, exploring new places, tasting new foods, attempting to learn a new language. And then the next minute, we’re back at home, back to work, back to school, back to “normal.” It hits me just as hard as it hits our kids, especially our 7 year old. “This just isn’t as fun as our trip,” she says. “Can’t we just go on another vacation? Like tomorrow?” she inquires.
I’ve read several travel bloggers’ takes on the post-travel blues and they offer great tips for adults to transition back from long vacations to the “real world.” But with kids, it is a bit different. While I feel like I proclaim on a regular basis how adaptable our kids are (bravo kiddos, you guys are rockstars!), it is also apparent when change is hitting them hard. After our travels, it becomes quite obvious that they can fall into a funk as well. The post-travel blues are a real thing, for adults and children alike. The good news is that they don’t last forever and the even better news is that you can work through them.
- Involve your kids in your post-travel story telling. My husband typically puts together a video montage of our travels from the footage he grabbed on our Go-Pro during our adventures. Involving the kids in the production of the video – whether in looking at clips, picking out music or showing them drafts along the way, helps them talk about and relive their favorite parts of our trip. I also put together a photo album of our travels and love getting their input on quotes and captions to include. These also provide two different mediums for the kids to look back on and recreate those emotions they experienced during our travels, to giggle at the silly moments and to remember the little things that happened while we were away.
- Have the kids help plan your NEXT vacation. Admittedly, every time we go on vacation, the moment we walk in our door and drop our bags (or sometimes even on the airplane ride home) I am the first one to say, “Okay, where to next?!” Now, I’m realizing my daughters are very similar as they excitedly ask when we can go again. When we get home, we spend time together talking about where we could go next. We watch short films on Vimeo about travel to inspire and excite us, we look at maps and travel books at the library all while letting the girls play an active role in helping us decide where we can go on our next adventure. By involving them, it keeps the excitement of travel alive, which we have found our kids need.
- Don’t come back from vacation on a Sunday. This wasn’t something that was obvious to us for awhile. We’d try to keep our vacations as long as we could before going back to work or school on Monday, because it would mean an extra day wherever we were going. Then we realized, our kids needed more time to adjust than we did. We now try to return from our vacations on a Friday, giving us a weekend at home to settle in and get back in our groove before they hop on the school bus on Monday again. This has made a huge difference in their upswing after vacation! Simple and easy solution to make things just a little less crazy.
- Plan a smaller adventure as soon as you can. Not all travel needs to be cross-country or to the other side of the world. Infuse your wanderlust by exploring something nearby — perhaps even in your own community. Check out cool experiences, museums, local festivals, markets and free events. Some of our favorite moments have been stumbling upon funky, little festivals or events that we discovered in our town or nearby areas. A small town lavender festival turned out to be the kids’ highlight of last summer. Who would have thunk? Everything can be an adventure if you let it!
The post-travel blues can be tiring, emotional and a little bit depressing. It is important to know that they are normal and it is okay to feel a sense of melancholy when you return from an epic adventure – no matter how big or how small. It’s important to let yourself and your kids process the return to home — which can often be harder than leaving home. Work through it together and help your kids understand that adventure awaits…and it is most likely around the next corner, if you are willing to look for it. Vacations may come and go, but the experiences and moments you shared as a family are bound to last forever.