Today's Chicago Woman

Keep your travel adventures alive after returning from a trip

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France is my favorite place in the world--but I don't get there as often as I'd like. So to keep my Francophile vibe going in Chicago, I occasionally drop into Lakeview's La Creperie for an authentic crêpe and glass of vin blanc. Often, I dine here after taking in a foreign film across the street at the Landmark Century Centre Cinemas.

Friends and acquaintances always think I have some incredible trip just around the corner--and I sure wish I did. When you're a part-time travel writer like me with a "day job," you're never able to travel as often as you'd like. But what I TRY to do is keep my trips alive long after I return home, unpack my bags, and settle back into "real life."

That's why I loved a recent blog post from BootsnAll Travel, a Web site that calls itself "the ultimate resource for the independent traveler." Writer Cynthia Morris, who's penned an e-book called The Graceful Return: Relish Your Journey After You've Come Home, offers tips on beating the blues that sometimes follow you home after a particularly meaningful trip. I'm SO there, as I'm one of those restless souls that's always more comfortable AWAY from home than I ever am here. Not sure what that's about (I probably need years of counseling to figure it out and then deal with it), but for me, it's really important to process the previous adventure and figure out how to integrate it into my daily life.

I try to plan, and then take, trips that are really meaningful to me. They often take me to countries far, far away, where they speak languages I'm often trying to learn (French, Italian and Spanish), and immerse me in delicious cultures that understand the value of slowing down and savoring life, one day at a time.

In her post, Morris shares about how "returning home can spark an uncomfortable wave of emotions." For people like me who wish they COULD live on the road, that means feeling let down once I roll that suitcase back into my South Loop building. When folks smile and say "welcome home," it breaks my heart, as I really want to continue living whatever adventure I'd been having overseas. Morris recommends journaling as a way to get in touch with these wistful feelings--and that's something I've done for years (and I do it DURING the trip as well). It's a way to sit and relive what made your trip so great--and hopefully come up with inspiring ways to keep it going once you get home.

Morris writes about capturing "the inspiration and empowerment you've gained on your journey" once you return home. "While a lot of what you have experienced has changed you in imperceptible ways," she writes, "you may want to be more clear about what your journey has given you." For me, my trips to Europe helped convince me that someday I wanted to live there--and I did, moving for nearly one year to Florence, Italy. Struggling in broken Italian with taxi drivers, getting lost on winding Roman streets, and meeting incredible people who have become friends for life changed me in very tangible ways. I'm not afraid to travel anywhere at any time, with others or alone. And that's a lasting gift that my travels have given me.

"Don't let the power of a journey disappear just because you've come home," writes Morris. Rather than trying to shake yourself out of your malaise immediately upon touching down in your hometown, embrace the transition. She recommends giving yourself a "bridge between your trip and home with the gift of time and space to integrate all you've gained." And remember, as Morris explains: Not everyone's keen on hearing about your excellent adventures once you return home. So you need to learn how to keep celebrating that trip yourself.

I'll soon get a chance to put all this wisdom into practice, as I'm soon headed for a weeklong trip to London and Paris (the latter is my favorite place in the world). It's always SUPER-tough for me to leave the City of Light, and I always secretly hope my flight gets canceled or my reservation gets bumped, just so I can spend more time in this heavenly place. And returning home is always a challenge. But while I'm away, I'll be consciously thinking about how to extend the afterglow of my trip once I'm back in Chicago.

I'd love to hear from you: How do YOU keep the romance of your concluded trips alive in your memory--and in your real life? Please post a comment and let us know!





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