7 Ways to Keep the Dream Alive After Your Gap Year

So, you’ve just returned home from the trip of a lifetime, and you can already feel life slipping back into that boring routine. Here’s how to keep your adventurous spirit alive after an extended time overseas.

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After my first multi-month trek around Europe, I came back home feeling, ironically, lost.

It felt wrong not to be in constant motion. There were no new cities to explore, no need to navigate impossible language barriers, and no strange dishes to try.

Here are a few ways I sought inspiration at home to keep that adventurous spirit alive, and avoid slipping back into mundane, day-to-day life.

1. Treat Your Hometown Like a Travel Destination

Curiosity resides in your mind, not on the road. We often become a bit complacent in our hometown, which means we can easily gloss over a lot of its charms.

Treat your own home with fresh, new eyes – just like you did in every destination you explored. Pick up a book or a travel guide and research your own city and its surrounding areas. Check local events calendars. Make a list of must-dos and grab your camera.

You most likely have missed a few hidden gems in your very own backyard. Who knows, you may even be inspired to put together a better travel guide of your own.

2. Get Around Like a Tourist

If you have a car, ditch it… at least for a bit.

Remember that ingenious way you saved some serious dough by figuring out an elaborate plane-train-ferry-bus journey? Try it at home. Take public transportation. Rent a bike. Walk.

Get around like you never did before.

3. Write About Your Travels

Put your travel experiences to paper (or screen). Write out the smallest sensory details you remember alongside your biggest revelations and disappointments.

Relive the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes through your own words. This can help you fully digest what you did, what you went through, and the complete mind-shift that probably occurred during your travels. 

This can also help you sort out what you really loved and/or hated about a place, your perspectives on the world, and your own relationship with your current location and situation.

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4. Become a Tour Guide

I found a renewed sense of excitement for my adopted hometown when I went out on a limb and applied for a food-tour guide position.

I figured I'd never get the job – I'm terrified of public speaking, after all – but my love for travel, and the specific type of food the tour is based on (chocolate!) helped me break through that fear.

I ended up loving this job. I got to mingle with tourists from around the world, learn and share interesting facts about my city, and meet inspiring local chefs, chocolatiers, and entrepreneurs. Plus, I got lots of free chocolate.

5. Help Friends & Family Plan Their Trips

Part of post-travel blues comes with the feeling that no one around you quite understands what you're going through. But, your travel adventures have likely inspired many of your friends and family members.

Helping your loved ones plan their own trips will help you better connect with them. Heck, you may even discover your next dream destination in the process.

6. Recreate Your Favorite Travel Moments at Home

This is really a no-brainer, and should definitely start with the taste buds.

Seek out your favorite foods and drinks from your travels – or better yet, visit specialty food markets to gather the ingredients to concoct them yourself. Look into food or walking tours in your area (some of these may even be donation-based).

Discover what makes your hometown unique. Visit small museums and galleries, quirky bookshops and boutiques, and local farms, restaurants, and breweries.

7. Avoid Full-Time Work Burnout with Mini-Holidays

All that effort and planning you put into your adventure abroad can be channeled just as enthusiastically into a variety of mini-holidays.

Use your weekends wisely: go hiking, camping, cycling, or road-tripping – but also take advantage of your vacation time.

Did you know that over half of Americans don't take all their vacation days? Take a few days off here-and-there for mini mid-week getaways, when crowds and prices shrink.

This'll keep you invigorated, and help you save up for your next big voyage.

Have you got any tips to help hold on to that traveling feeling? Share them in the comments below!

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