You know that holiday feeling. The one where you’ve just come back from an unforgettable trip and have that unmistakable ‘I’ve just got back’ glow – smugly telling everyone in sight where you’ve just been and how amazing it was. When you’ve still got those braids in your hair, be practically living in your printed harem pants and smiling from ear to ear?
But where does that feeling go? Where is it when you’ve resigned yourself back to your 9-5 or the school-run, with a coffee in one had and your laptop or a lunchbox in the other?
It’s exactly this feeling that I try to retain for as long as possible after every trip I’ve ever taken. Over the years, I’ve tried multiple different strategies, all with varying effect, to desperately keep up that holiday vibe because, quite frankly, I’m my best when I’ve just come back from travelling.
And it’s not just me; a number of studies have been carried out to look into this well-loved feeling. And they all say the same thing. Those who can prolong the holiday vibe are those that derive the most pleasure out of life itself.
So here’s what I’ve learnt over the years in the hope that you’ll be able to do exactly the same after your next holiday…
Table of Contents
My ways of keeping that holiday feeling alive
Now, this one I tried in November last year when I was on holiday with my family on the beautiful island of Fuerteventura in the Canaries. Every now and then I would put my index finger to my thumb on both hands and take it all in, imprinting that current feeling – enjoying the present.
Every time I had a moment on that holiday where I was blown away just a little bit, I made this same movement. Apparently it’s a neuro-linguistic move that helps your brain to associate a specific movement with happiness. So when I came home, I did the same thing every morning – going back to those moments on the beach, in the pool and walking along the seafront to relive that magic. Surpisingly, this was one of the most effective techniques I’ve tried, even though I didn’t believe it would work when I looked into it. I still do it every now and then at work when the day is a little tougher then it should be.
Keep that inspiration flowing
I don’t know about you but when I go away, I often feel a lot more inspired than usual. I don’t know whether it’s the change in environment, the fact that I’m not permanently attached to a device or it’s the fresh air – whatever the reason, it’s incredible. I can remember walking around Berlin, charging up a bit like a battery with all this inspirational energy, from one street art mural to the next. On that weekend break, although I didn’t realise it at the time, I was appreciating the bigger picture. When I came back, I left the job I was unhappy in and found one that I absolutely love.
It’s this energy that I harnessed and began little projects – on my blog, in the house and with my fitness – and what followed was a healthy change in my lifestyle. So, I’d absolutely encourage making the most of this feeling: make a list, brainstorm and get cracking on all those little things you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t quite had the chance – it’s worth it.
Get to planning
They often say that the best way to keep that holiday feeling is by booking another one, or at least planning one, and this is exactly what I do. No matter how small the next trip is – there’s always something I can be planning on the horizon. Take for instance my return from Paris; as soon as I got back, I planned a cheeky break in Yorkshire for that Christmas. It made me feel alive and kept that holiday anticipation going.
Now I’m knee-deep in guidebooks, blogs and friendly recommendations that I look at whenever I’m having a bit of a quiet day. It’s that rush, that excitement, that keeps me planning – what’s more, it tricks my mind into thinking I’ve had more holidays each year by varying then length of each one. From day trips and weekenders to full-blown fortnight adventures, it keeps life exciting.
Just as a side note, if you can’t do this for any reason, then why not virtually travel with a blogger or photographer on Instagram or Pinterest? I do this all the time. I follow travel bloggers and just experience what they’re up to through images – it also fuels my ever-growing bucket-list!
If you’re not already, how about checking out Ladies What Travel on Instagram?
Read a book
I’m not gonna lie, I love a good book – whether it’s a guidebook, recipe book or just your regular coffee table book, I can’t get enough. After trekking to Iceland for my honeymoon, I didn’t want to forget a moment – I wanted that feeling back of being ‘free’.
That’s what it feels like in Iceland, you see, it’s so expansive and each landscape is so diverse that you feel lost but in a good way.
So, every now and then, I go back through my Lonely Planet guide, try out a Skyr-infused recipe (I stick to yoghurt as I’m not a fan of rotten shark…) and gawp at spectacular imagery in many a magazine. Whenever I see a magazine, like Conde Nast, with Iceland in it, I’m there with all the bells and whistles. And it works because it makes me re-live the happiness of that trip and the memories that are left lingering in my mind. Pages bring Iceland to life, until I return…
Explore your everyday
I’m a big fan of this one. Even though I plan future trips, as you now know, I also spend my weekends exploring. This could be a trip to my native Brighton, a train journey up to London or going a bit wild and going on a road trip up to Manchester. It all started when I realised that you live life a little differently when you’re on holiday – you talk to strangers, you always have your trusty camera to hand to capture each experience and you take in every little bit of your surroundings.
This is why I make the most of each weekend. I normally book an AirBnB no more than a fortnight in advance, book train tickets (if needed) and make a little list of highlights in the area I’m visiting then, hey presto – off I go, backpack and all! It provides me with that holiday feeling because I’m discovering new places all the time, just as I would on a full-blown holiday.
Ah, New York. You see, this was one of my favourite holidays of all time, so this was one was important in terms of retaining that city vibe. On my return from my travels, suffering extraordinary amounts of jet lag, I curated my memories. In just six days, I’d wracked up hundreds of photos. I was determined to display the moments from this trip and not let them gather dust on my shelves or sit on my camera’s memory card; I wanted to re-live them every day. So I spent an afternoon with the biggest coffee you’ve ever seen, compiling photos into albums, picture frames and pin-boards (cause I’m a little old school). Now, every single day, I re-visit those positive experiences and leave my flat feeling just that little bit more positive for the day ahead. To this day, this has been my most successful strategy – my friend describes it as ‘your house wearing your memories.’
This one isn’t brain science. There’s quite a few restaurant chains around these days, failing that, lots of quirky independent cafes and bistros ready to suit every ethnic foodie whim you may have ever had. From Mexican street food to Peruvian tapas, you can get it all. So when I returned from Thailand last year, I just had to re-create the taste sensations I’d uncovered in some of Bangkok’s most famous floating markets – I needed a decent Pad Thai and a bowl of mango-infused sticky rice in my life.
It wasn’t easy, I visited far too many restaurants before I found exactly what I was looking for, but I didn’t give up! This came in the shape of a restaurant called Thaikun in Guildford. They welcomed me with the traditional Thai greeting of Sawadee Kha and led me through the most authentically designed place I could have hoped for – images of the Thai royal family, bold and vibrant street posters, sweet-smelling flower-covered shrines and alcohol-filled camper vans. It felt like I was back in Thailand – the sandalwood smells were the same, the friendly Thai hospitality was there and the food was nothing short of incredible. I’d found that holiday vibe again.
Listen to your travel playlist
I’m a big one for creating playlists. In fact, I still make my friends mix tapes. Each destination I’ve ever been to has a number of tracks attributed to it. This was no different with my trip to Florida some years ago now. Obviously, the soundtrack to my holiday was Disney-fied. I heard a quote the other day, which claimed that ‘music provides the bookmarks to an individual’s life’ – and I couldn’t agree with that statement more. It’s exactly why I make these playlists. Each time I hear Disney, I’m taken back to the parks themselves, NASA and Florida’s stunning white beaches – even when I’m doing the daily commute. It makes my day that little bit more magical.
When I go on holiday, the only bit of tech that I use day-to-day is my camera. My phone, laptop and iPad all go out the window, in favour of experiences. Sure, it’s hard because I’m a bit of an addict, but it’s worth it. The best example I have of this was in Florence where I stayed off everything for five whole days – which is an achievement for me!
I decided after this that when I got home I’d spend my evenings and weekends tech-free to really get the most out of each day. Studies have shown that doing this not only makes you a more sociable person but your wellbeing also improves as a result. And for a little while, it made me feel more relaxed, just as it did on my holiday.
I took up yoga, embarked on countryside walks, actually took my lunch hours and stopped my Netflix binges. Sadly, though, this one didn’t stay the course. As the month after Florence went on, I just fell back into old habits – it’s all too easy for me but if you think you’d be able to do this, I’d absolutely encourage you to do so.
Watch a sunset
Last but definitely not least, I make it my duty to watch at least one sunset a week. No matter where it is. The photo above came from my city break to Marrakech. Nowhere had I seen such incredible colours in any city – as soon as I arrived, until the minute I left, I was in awe. But the real highlight of my trip was the sunset I watched behind the Koutoubia Mosque – this was one of the times in my life when I’ve felt most at peace. I swear it’s a technique as old as time but it’s one that works. Now whenever I watch a sunset, I’m taken back to those vivid nights in Morocco and the sense of calm that washed over me. Do it, you won’t regret it.