For 6 months of last year I was knee deep in our European slow travel road trip planning.
Each day after dropping the kids at school I’d high tail home to photograph, advertise and sell our household possessions or research some form of our trip.
Often the people who were buying our things were on, or, returning from adventure themselves.
The young French couple who bought our car fridge for the 4WD they’d renovated. They were about to travel around Australia and were infectiously excited I could feel it.
I joked with the gentleman who bought the bike racks for his car (he cycles rather than hikes – because of his knees) about meeting him on the Camino one day. I hardly knew anything about the Camino on that day – oddly coincidental that I’m currently about to embark on it.
I got the sense from the couple with young kids who bought our dining room chairs that they had post adventure blues. They had just come back from a few years in Sth America. I know that feeling.
I felt like I was part of a club. An adventure club. These were my people.
The pre-adventure excitement is really something isn’t it? Fresh new passports, big dreams, the excitement of the unknown.
But what happens after the adventure?
Eerrrr, the proverbial ‘come down’ is what!
All of a sudden it’s commitments, play date and party invitations. The passport has to go back into its hiding spot and the travel and adventure gear is washed, folded and packed away.
It sounds dramatic doesn’t it? But it’s normal, it’s a grief period.
Especially after a BIG adventure.
I had a bit of a crash after our trip. Sometimes I’m still walking around in a dreamy trance wondering where it went?
Here are a few things that are helping me:
This has been so important to me. I have a few friends who have been on big adventures. They understand that once you get a few good night sleeps in your bed and hot showers under your belt that the feeling of loss hits.
There’s the loss of freedom, spontaneity, newness and the excitement of not knowing how a day will look.
My friend April who took her family on a life changing Spanish sojourn knows this feeling well. She gave me some wonderfully sage advice.
She reminded me to breathe. Sometimes we breathe so fast when we return that our spirit can’t catch us.
For me, my spirit was definitely still in the mountains and in the campervan. I had to consciously slow down, take the breaths and let the the wind blow my spirit back.
Just having someone who understoods the very real need to transition back to ‘normal’ life helped. She also pointed me to this article written by Lucy Stone for Travel Play Live that I could totally identify with. Coming home.
I’m fairly good at micro adventures but now more than ever they are food for the soul. Maybe right now they’re even my air (along with my daydreams of course).
Sometimes it’s as easy as stepping out the front door for a run, a hike or a cycle. A swim in the ocean – or in my case a walk by the sea or lakes (Holland is way too cold for me to dive in ). Or hopping on a train for a day trip or an overnight camping trip.
We’ve even hit the woods to collect sticks to build a bird feeder (to bring the wild to our courtyard) and to remind us of being surrounded by nature. The mini adventures that fit into a day / a weekend they keep us connected to the feelings that we miss from our travels and each other.
If you want to meet fellow adventurers sometimes it’s as simple (scary) as starting something new. Join a bushwalking, sailing or running club. Go along to an adventure film screening or weekend summit. Keep your adventurous spirit alive. If it’s more of a cultural adventure you crave, enrol in language course.
So far I have done a few things on this list. I’ve started Karate, hit the woods on foot and on my bike. I’ve signed up for a trail run, read books, watched movies and learning Italian…yes, that’s on my radar.
Settle into it. Sometimes we just need to feel it!
Pillows and doonas on the couch, a cup of tea or a glass of wine (whatever you fancy), popcorn and a good movie or book. Just hang out with yourself and your feelings.
We often share stories over dinner now. ‘Favourite camp spot, best meal, favourite museum, best beach etc.’ My daughter held the ‘(camper) vannie awards’ and my son recently created a home movie of trip photos accompanied by our favourite trip soundtrack.
Once you acknowledge what you miss it can be easier to move forward.
We miss the freedom and spontaneity so we don’t fill our weekends. I miss the horizons and solitude so I wander alone often. I miss the closeness of the kids so we hang out together all cozy and connected. We protect meal times.
This trip taught us many things. One of those was that adventure is important for our family and it needs to be a priority in our life. A life we don’t want to look back at with regrets.
Saying ‘yes’ to adventure is more important than saying ‘yes’ to the 10 or so party invitations we have received in the past month. But that’s just us, we all have different priorities.
Start reading adventure stories! Since returning from our trip these three books have reminded me that a little wildness is important.
Have you read these? Any to add? I am always looking for adventure memoirs to read. Let me know and I’ll keep adding them or start a new page of books.
*I haven’t set up affiliate links here, when I learn how to do that any funds for books purchased via these will be donated straight to One Girl Charity.
Got the bug? After some time grieving and re-living your last adventure start planning your next one. For me it’s my Camino One Girl challenge.
I can now start to watch the movies, read the blogs and books. I’ve started following a few camino accounts to get inspired and excited.
My training plan is starting to fall into place so I can get busy in the journey towards this new adventure…always the journey will be one of the greatest parts of the adventure.
Of course running a marathon is amazing but the training is what makes you strong and keeps your day to day life exciting and adventurous.
Just like when I was in motion towards our European adventure I’m finding my way into the same forward motion with my camino adventure.
I’m keeping the lists, slowly do the research, seeking out the people who inspire me towards my dreams.
In my experience once you find ways to get lost in your new dream, your daydreams will follow.
Take the time – it doesn’t happen over night.
Once you find your way into a new dream, your past adventure slowly makes it’s way into the book of interesting stories you share. It’s no longer something you’re missing.
Also the things you learnt from your adventure will inform who you are today and the feelings of grief will become more and more momentary.
Here’s a little interview I did with Brydie Piaf about the lead up to our European adventure. I was lost in the planning and dreaming of that for a number of years.
Sort your budget. Keep your money on track – then you can plan a new adventure. We’ve settled in a new country but we keep things as simple as we can.
As we settle we’re trying to be mindful about all the extra commitments we take on. Phone, TV and internet plans anything that can be cut back – we’re keeping it as basic as we can. It all adds up.
Setting a food budget is the only way to keep track of how much is going in and out via the supermarket. Buying specials, using what’s already in the fridge, making what we can. It’s amazing how much can be saved by having an adventure with food budgets (money and waste).
Insurances are important but so expensive. We don’t have a car anymore so we don’t need car insurance! I wonder how many of us can really do without the second car? It’s a fire cracker way to save (climate change win too).
Shop around for the insurances and connections you do need and don’t shop for the stuff you don’t. More stuff is only going to eat your budget and make it harder to get to the next big adventure (and stress the planet).
I try to find moments of adventure and beauty within my days. The kinds of things that seem so romantic when you’re travelling in new surroundings.
Cycling in the cool air can be cold or it can be a moment to notice and reflect:
‘The Autumnal Equinox is on the way. This morning I had to pull my woollen jumper over my frozen fingers. I love the crispness of the air on my face (I often sing Whoo Hoo – Blur) as I ride. It’s a heart space zone. Once my blood starts pumping it warms me right through to my fingers. I don’t think the gloves will be far off. The cold is easier when you’re warm inside.’ – written after a morning cycle to drop the kids at school.
There are so many things that we see in our day that if viewed through holiday eyes would make us glow from the inside out. Have a little exploring adventure and look at things with tourist eyes.
Re-live your travels. Go back over your photos, journal writings or however it is that you documented the trip. Make a photo book or slide show to watch.
Just looking at my summit photos of Mulhacén, the kids making mudslides into Las Lagunas or the unexpected beauty of the wildflowers in Spain reminds me that it may have passed but sheesh we did experience it!
Rather than a loss I get to feel the beauty again.
Don’t pack your gear away never to be seen again – use it!
Use your day pack. Our kids use theirs as school bags.
In a few weeks the books will be removed and a few clothes chucked in as we take the train to explore Berlin for the week.
The wetsuits are in the laundry where I can see them – and when I see them I dream of when we last used them to surf up the Portuguese coastline.
The tents and sleeping mats are in the hallway cupboard with the shoes. They are there looking at me, reminding me – waiting to be used again.
Yes, it sucks to be home from an adventure.
Often, I walk around in my body but I feel out of body. I wonder how I am here again – in the routine of ‘normal’.
So, I line my cards up.
I reach out to friends, create micro adventures, read, plan, save and I DREAM BIG.
I keep our gear as part of our everyday life and I notice the ordinary in every day.
I’m just home. Two months from the last adventure and a new one is forming. This is my ‘normal’ life.
I don’t need a holiday from it because every day is part of my next adventure.
Some days I trot through the mud. But, there’s always growth and life when there is motion.
Happy adventure dreaming friends. Please share with me all your tips for how you work through your post adventure blues.
Lovely, kind readers – I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, or is daydreaming about campervanning I’m cool if you share.
Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.
I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here. Support crews are everything.
A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.
Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:
2 thoughts on “The come down after the BIG adventure. Forward motion (8) thoughts.”
Yep Fran it happens to us all x
Looked like a great big adventure! The kids will remember this forever. Would love to here about Zoe’s experience from the expo to the adventure to now.
It’s a walk we all walk hey. Yes an amazing adventure and most days I see how we have all grown because of it.
Zoë (on her own) chose ‘The Wilderness’ as the topic for her year long art project at school and remains as committed as ever to taking over from Morgan one day ;). Meeting Morgan at the expo was quite a pivotal moment for our family.
The open space, the adventure, the living next to nature in a pared back way, I think has given Zoë a strength, independence and internal resilience that has shaped the woman she will grow into. She is stronger and less fearful. She knows how to be wild, to contribute and the importance of freedom (from all the noise – physical and mental). This adventure has strengthened her beliefs and her values.
I know that when she is older she will know the importance of breathing in nature and she, (with her personality and predispositions) will need that.