On the trail, we often become the truest versions of ourselves. Stripped down to the muscle on our legs and contents of our backpacks. Vulnerable. The ever changing circumstances of travel keep us energized and engaged. Take that away, and what's left? It’s hard to walk back into sameness. Waking up in the same bed, going to the same job, seeing the same places everyday. Too many people finish a thru-hike or extended period of travel and fall into a rut. It’s easy to go back to old habits that maybe sparked our desire for an adventure in the first place.
Unless you are very, very lucky to work remotely while traveling, chances are you fall victim to the 9-5 life at some point. If money grew on trees, we hikers would be stuffing our sleeping bags full. But, that’s not the case. Breaks in travels and hikes are a critical time to earn money, and offers a chance for reflection and perspective. So how do we go back to working life? How do we navigate the busy world now that we may see it differently?
Don’t hate me for reminding you of the obvious.
Make time to play a priority. Schedule it into your week if you have to. Don’t let your days become monotonous, or it’ll become a routine that’s hard to break. Find what parts of your travels were most important to your happiness and bring them into your daily life. Each time I make this transition, I learn more about myself and what I need to stay happy day-to-day. For many of us, time outside is crucial - our bodies don’t want to regress after spending long days in clean air and Vitamin D. Preserve pieces of our travels, and find what we can let go of temporarily. Technology is a challenge. After having limited time looking at screens while hiking, I struggle with overindulging back home. It doesn’t mean find those limits again, but give yourself time off from social media, Netflix and emails by turning it off after a certain time each night, or for a Saturday. One piece I’m not willing to give up entirely? Sleeping outside without artificial lights. Taking weekends camping or sleeping in my car rejuvenates my spirit after waking up in a different place.
Find time to reflect on your past journeys. Write about them, talk about them, compile photo projects of them, anything. This is a key piece. Don't get sucked up into a depressive state about MISSING this past adventure, but rather try and understand how it has changed us, made us feel grateful, or some other newness we are experiencing. Maybe there isn't any tangible change, and that's ok too. The important part is to use this to dial into creativity and understanding. Then we take that with us on the next adventure.
It’s ok to work in small chunks. Most of the time, that's a more realistic approach anyway. But having something to work towards keeps me hungry for what’s to come. The planning and researching for new trips can be just as exciting as the trip itself. Allowing anticipation to build keeps me motivated on a daily basis, a reminder of why working hard now will pay off later. Delay that gratification so it can taste even sweeter. Try signing up for a race or ride that gives you motivation to use for training and planning.
Be a weekend warrior:
Plan some mini adventures for a day off or weekends. Look at places that are close to home to cut down on time in the car. Join a Facebook group for runners, hikers, cyclists, surfers, whatever your muse… to find out about new spots nearby you may not know about. The thought of packing, planning and heading out after an exhausting work week can be daunting. But remember that this is what energizes you in the long run. My past few weekends have been filled with driving up into the mountains nearby to cook dinner with a view and sleep in my car, and I always come out feeling refreshed, despite the extra legwork. Always bailing on your plans last minute so you can sleep in Saturday morning? I’ve been there too. Invite some friends to come along so you are less likely to back out. Bottom line: It can be a lot to handle, but it’s worth it.