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Getting Over Vacation Hangover

Five tips for Adjusting to Regular Life After Paradise

Getting Over Vacation Hangover: 5 Tips for Adjusting to Regular Life After Paradise

It’s hard to believe just one week ago I spent my morning enjoying breakfast via room service, swimming in the ocean, and squeezing in one more mimosa before boarding a plane back home. The home I love dearly, but the home where orange juice doesn’t know champagne, and room service consists of a glass of water brought to bed.

Ah yes, I experienced my first full-blown, week-long, all-inclusive vacation. And I loved it. The only tough part was dealing with the hangover.

No, no. Not the hangover that comes from our friendly bartenders pouring rum with extra rum on top. That was easy to get over.

I’m talking about the hangover I experienced trying to get back to real life. I expected to be a puddle of relaxation when I got back, but the reality was I felt overwhelmed, anxious, and tired.

With lots of compassion and kindness for myself over those first few days, I’m well back into the swing of things. That said, now that I know about this phenomenon, I will try to approach my next vacations (yes, there will be more!) a little differently, to ease the transition back to real life. Hopefully some of these tips can help you enjoy your next vacation… after the vacation is over.

(Meal) Plan Ahead

On my first day back to work, at around second breakfast o’clock, I found myself complaining about “buffet withdrawal.” Imagine my dismay later on when the Man!dult asked what to have for dinner and I realized he meant what to make, not which resort restaurant we should try that evening.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually love to cook. But having someone else do it for me was undeniably sweet. (And no dishes? Indescribable.)

I couldn’t even pull my favorite meal planning “strategy”, which is riffing off of “what most urgently needs to get out of the fridge?” We had done one vacation prep factor right: Clearing out the perishables before we left (because no one wants to clean out a rotted crisper after vacation). I wasn’t ready to face a grocery store or recipes, so we seriously muddled through those first couple of days before finding the joy in cooking again.

Fortunately there is a very simple solution to this (and it isn’t the pizza man!). I just didn’t know I needed it. Freezer meals. I’m not one of those people who cooks once for a whole month or anything like that, but I usually have a couple options in there to grab during trying times. Unfortunately, since I’m in the midst of trying to get to “freezer zero” all I found were a few bricks of swiss chard and pesto. Next time I go away, I’ll be sure to have some totally pre-prepped meals handy, earmarked “post-vacation.” It may not be quite as good as a pro chef, but it’s not much more work to throw a bag in the crock pot or instant pot.

Note: If you’re looking try some “freezer cooking”, vacation or not, my favorite resource for real food, practical recipes is New Leaf Wellness. She has tons of free recipes through her blog, and recently launched a membership site for those serious about the freezer cooking stuff. I’m not affiliated in any way, I just find her recipes to be head and shoulders above others I’ve found online.

Clean House

Cleaning is one of those things that makes me scream, “Aaah!” in my life at the best of times. Well, walking into a less-than-tidy home nearly broke me after being spoiled by a week of maid service. Not only do we not have a maid here, but there is more than a suitcase worth of “stuff” to deal with too. Decluttering is a slow work in progress, and we actually did a good job of covering the basics (like dishes, laundry, and making the bed) considering we left at 5 am after a nutty week.

Still, any little messes left hit me harder than I anticipated. So, next time, all the cleaning I can muster beforehand will be a priority.

I mean, we do have to clean our houses at some point anyway. Might as well make it happen for a time when you will really, really appreciate it.

Get Your Financial House in Order

While you are cleaning your surroundings, make sure you also clean up your finances before jumping on that plane.

First off, you want to make sure “vacation money” is sorted out. All inclusive makes it pretty simple, but even so, there are incidentals such as excursions, tips, and airport parking to account for. If you want to relax on your vacation (duh!) it’s helpful to know exactly what is available to spend. It will make the trip more enjoyable, and help to prevent any guilt from hitting you once you are back home.

Secondly, you want to make sure your regular life finances are kept up on in your absence (because banks don’t take vacations!). As part of actively managing my personal finances, I’m in my accounts often, “touching” my money. Not on vacation though! No matter how much you say, “There is WiFi there, I can deal with it later.” — you won’t. Because you will likely forget what day of the week or month it is. It’s actually a beautiful thing. But, knowing that, just make sure that your bills are paid and money is in accounts for auto-withdrawal before you go.

Actually, extend it and make sure you take care of all the financial obligations for a week after your vacation too. I almost missed a payment three days post-return, simply because I was still in a daze, and hadn’t thought of money at all. Never saw that coming!

Under Schedule

A big part of coming back to mild chaos was leaving in chaos. It was just one of those crazy weeks. Now, we couldn’t necessarily move the events we attended, but it’s good to keep in mind for future getaways:

So many of us spend our lives a little (or lot) over scheduled. Knowing we are unavailable for a week, it can be tempting to cram things in the schedule before, making up for “lost time.” Not a good idea.

Keeping as much as possible off the calendar before leaving frees up time for prep, including all the points above!

Same goes for the week after. Fortunately, we were lightly scheduled and made it to, and through, our few obligations. But honestly, that was by luck, not design. Next time I will purposely make sure to clear the schedule! We really needed to take it easy those first evenings.

Give Yourself Time

A week off work is more than my usual, so it never occurred to me to take even more time off. However, I did not anticipate how tired I would be (especially with all the napping I did on vacation!). Honestly, I was a zombie and likely of limited use to my employer the next day anyway. Now I know.

It seems that most people in our group already anticipated this phenomenon, and had booked at least the next day off. One lucky woman even had the rest of the week. Smart, smart people.

Of course this applies to people who go out to a job, but if I were self employed, I would definitely try to work ahead enough to have a few extra days there too!

And if you can’t avoid going straight back to work, the rest of the tips are of even more importance. Because at least if you don’t have to cook, clean, or be anywhere those first few evenings, you can just chill out and go to bed early!

No Problem, Mon

One of the best parts of my trip was the laid back demeanor of the Jamaican resort staff. We vowed to remember this when we felt ourselves getting sucked into the hustle and grind of our culture back home.

But for a minute there, it felt impossible.

Thankfully, I pulled through the vacation hangover, and realize it is indeed possible. It’s not that I’ll never get stressed again, but I can just slow down and think, “No problem, Mon.”

Next time around, I’ll just try these steps to head off a few problems from the get go.

If you are curious what resort was so amazing that I could hardly stand to leave, it was the Hyatt Ziva Montego Bay, Jamaica. The whole experience was wonderful and their wedding team did a great job for our friends. Our whole group, ranging from resort rookies to seasoned travellers, loved it. No affiliation, just appreciation.

Five Tips for Getting Over Vacation Hangover

What is your best tip for easing back into real life after a great vacation? Add it to the comments below.