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The post-travel letdown

Updated: Jul 1, 2019

Do you have this? Is this a thing for anyone else but me? Ok yes, a quick Google search indicates it is, but I can't help wondering if my experience is similar to others’.


I just got back from a beautiful, inspiring trip to Spain after having been away from international travel for an agonizing five years. On the plane home I watched A Star is Born and now I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack. I think it’s because I feel like it keeps me connected with my trip; like I’m home, but not really.


I also can't wrap my mind around going back to work; it seems like the weirdest thing in the world. I can’t even fathom being able to focus on what I’m doing or even caring to focus. It all seems so surreal, and it feels so sad that maybe everyday life will never feel right again, like all of sudden it doesn’t fit.


This after only two weeks! What must it feel like after a semester abroad or a year or years?


There are things I can do, of course, to begin to snap myself out of it. For starters, Bridge, turn off the sad, sultry tones of Lady Gaga (…every time we say goodbye baby it hurts…) and stop thinking about Bradley Cooper’s hair and perfect, gritty, nasally country voice. And then start unpacking and do laundry and read the mail. Eventually, that feeling of hanging between two worlds will fade.


But even as it does, a little of the sadness will linger. I know it will; it always does.


So do you ask yourself then like I do, why we do it? What is it about toting our possessions around behind us as we wait in mind-numbing lines, or sitting stuck in the middle seat on a twelve-hour flight, or stressing over missed or cancelled flights, or enduring the torture of jet lag that does not deter, but spurs us on to do it over and over again? What is it about even the sadness we know is coming that doesn't keep us home?


I guess if you think about it, it’s pretty simple.


Whether it's traveling abroad or climbing a mountain or raising a kid, the things we love aren't always easy, but it’s worth it to sift through all the hard stuff to find the nuggets; the moments when you can just close your eyes and think to yourself, I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. I got to experience that on this trip after wondering for a long time if I ever would again, so I can say with complete confidence that the sadness is worth it when the alternative is to feel not much of anything.


Because c'mon, we have to remember after all, that nothing is all easy or all hard; all happy or all sad. And it is in being able to appreciate this - to savor this even - that we find the richness in life. So, my advice would be to relish a little in the letdown you feel after a really amazing trip. Then on Monday pick yourself up and after getting a little work done, start planning your next one.


Bon voyage and happy trails!

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