Sometimes I cry at the end of the trip. Not always, but enough to call it a pattern. I get bleary-eyed when we pull up to Departures. Whimper while we wait to check in. Sigh at the gate and look wistfully out the window at whatever landscape will soon be replaced with a more familiar one. Because vacations are awesome and the fact they must end is terrible! Traumatic!
Fortunately there are ways to keep a vacation alive long after you’ve returned home. Bring a little of your destination back with you. And I’m not talking about souvenir tchotchkes that collect dust on a shelf.
- Specialty Foods In an era where chain stores and restaurants are turning cities homogenous, I heartily recommend finding out what makes one city unique from any other when you travel. When we went to Seattle, I fell in love with Theo Chocolate (their factory is in the offbeat Fremont neighborhood) and Caffe Vita, a standout among the city’s many quality coffee shops. I brought home a couple chocolate bars and bags of beans, but they were soon gone. Then John discovered an amazing thing: Caffe Vita and Theo collaborate to offer a coffee and chocolate of the month club. Best gift ever! I’m still enjoying my two favorite Seattle destinations every month. On your next trip, seek out and sample local products, and find out if you can order them online after you return home. The smell and taste will send you back to the place you first enjoyed those geographical specialties.
- Donations I’ve written about how I love Yosemite National Park. I miss it like an old friend! If we could be pen pals, that would be awesome. Too bad national parks can’t write. But they do have nonprofit organizations that really love to talk about them! This year I donated to the Yosemite Conservancy. (One of their projects, the path to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls, is shown below.) Now I am connected to the park all the time through my contribution. For city trips, I’ll guess that museums or other cultural institutions would happily accept you into their pool of donors and keep you informed about goings-on.
- Social Media I am friends with Glacier National Park on Facebook. Every day, they post a photo or talk about what’s happening in the park. Even though I was there in August, I got to see the season’s first snowfall, hear about the search and rescue of some stranded hikers, and learn about all kinds of random awesome stuff. It’s hard for a destination to fade away in your memory when you get daily status updates. As an avid TripAdvisor user, now and then I’ll pop into the forums of places I’ve been to see what people are talking about and to contribute when I have something useful to say. Sometimes, months after a trip I’ll get an e-mail telling me that someone’s posted a response to a thread I’d followed during my planning stage. Even if the information isn’t relevant anymore, it brings back memories of our trip.
What are some other ways to bring a vacation home with you?