Post-Trip Blues: How To Cope With a Travel Hangover
by Erica Ho
So after I wrapped my latest two-week excursion in New York and Portland, I may have been dealing with a few different types of hangover. But the one that seemed to slam the hardest this time was the travel hangover, the fatigue that always seems to set in after a trip.
[This post was originally published at Map Happy.]
In the past, I’ve always been able to bounce back without much effort, but it seems to be getting harder and harder these days, probably because my sleep deficit is running at record levels. But! Never fear! There must be someone sticking it to travel fatigue and showing there’s a way to kick its seriously unwelcome ass. (Not me. Someone else.)
In a study conducted by Mark Rosekind, the former director for NASA’s Fatigue Countermeasures Program, researchers found that people often slept the worst the night before a trip, averaging about five hours. By the time they got home, they had registered a sleep loss of about eight hours — that’s one full night of sleep over a four-day period. The funny thing was that everyone seemed to think they had higher levels of sleep than they were actually getting.
It also explains why I just conked out for 24 hours in the space of 48 hours.
Give yourself actual time to rest.
It sounds nonsensical and generic but here’s the thing: You do really need time to rest, whether you’ve just finished a two-week bender across the country or a quickie trip to Japan. You already lost two days; be prepared to lose at least one more day just to rest. Traveling really does take a lot of time more than anything else.
At this point, you really need to ditch the mentality to do as much as you possibly can. Every passed social opportunity is not the end of the world — something I always seem to get hung up on. Give yourself some time off and go easy on yourself. You deserve it.
It’s up to you to figure out when to schedule rest in, whether that means coming back home on Saturday or Sunday, or purposefully delaying your rest until the following weekend. It’s better to be proactive about it so you can be prepared for the Monday onslaught when it comes.
Netflix is your friend.
Remember watching daytime soaps when you were sick home from school? This is what you’re doing on your time off. Whether you decide it’s time to catch up on The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones or Marriage Boot Camp: Bridezillas, give yourself some time to be brainless and decompress. Curl up with a book if you’re craving some non-screen time.
So is Unisom, Zolpidem and (insert drug).
For those of us that have zero time to readjust from the jet lag on our trip, drugs are a girl’s best friend. I find Unisom especially effective; others find Zolpidem to do the trick. Ambien is the most well-known over-the-counter brand, though I’ve yet to encounter anyone who actually uses it. For those who want something a little bit more natural, melatonin should be your poison of choice.
I just basically spent three-quarters of this article pretty much telling you to rest. And now I’m telling you to high-tail it out the door… but here’s the thing: you really, really need to exercise. Whether that’s on your trip — those that exercised on their trip generally performed 61% better on average — or when you get home, working up a sweat is an integral part of healthy living. It’s good for your raising your energy and performance levels. Hot yoga, here I come.