Bringing Travel Experiences Back Home
When travelling internationally, simple things like roaming a grocery store or trying a new foods become exciting, new experiences. Experiencing new people, places, cultures, foods, etc is one of the reasons I love to travel and keep travelling. But after a week or two of finding excitement in the little things, it can be difficult to return home to your routine and familiar environment.
To avoid this feeling, find certain beloved experiences from your trip to integrate into your day-to-day life back home. Take a look at this list of examples and read about what experiences I have brought back from my trips to give you inspiration for your own!
BRING HOME A…
Thinking back on most of my trips, there is typically some food we ate a lot of the entire time. In Costa Rica it’s always rice and beans, in India it was paneer, in Ethiopia it was injera, and in France it was baguettes. Whatever it is, we are usually sick of it by the end of the trip and then two weeks after being home we are craving it again.
On your next trip look out for what you are snacking on and figure out if you can find it at home or not. If you can, seek it out and keep it in your pantry. If you can’t, get some to bring back with you! Assuming it is permitted by TSA, I find that bringing back food, tea, or coffee is much more enjoyable to have after a trip than a random key chain or t-shirt.
What snack have I brought back from a trip? White Rabbits! White Rabbits are Chinese candies that are very popular in Southeast Asia. They are similar in shape to a tootsie roll but they have a milky flavor and are wrapped in rice paper so your fingers don’t get sticky. My sister Grace and I loved eating these whenever we visited Singapore as kids. So, my parents helped us bring some back to enjoy at home and share with our friends.
Just like certain foods will always make me think of certain trips, there are certain drinks that have the same effect. There are some creative ways you can bring a favorite drink home without bringing the drink itself. You could get a recipe from a local and attempt to find ingredients back home. Or, if the drink is always drunk from a certain type of cup, glass, or straw, buy that component of the drink and figure out the ingredients back home. At the very least, you are going home with a cool souvenir.
What drink have I brought back from a trip? Yerba mate. Yerba mate is a popular tea in Argentina. It is traditionally drank from a gourd with a straw that has a tea-leaf filter inside of it. Not only does it taste good, but drinking from a gourd is just a fun experience! So, before leaving Argentina, my mom bought a bag of yerba mate leaves, a drinking gourd, and a filter straw so we could enjoy it again after the trip.
A full meal can be a bit more difficult to re-create after a trip but it’s not impossible. There are two key things you need to obtain, however, if you want to do this. First, is the recipe. Ideally you could get this from a trusted local. Second, is any ingredients (spices, grains, etc) you cannot find back home. If there are multiple things in the recipe that you don’t think you can find at home, I recommend picking one to bring back (the one that will be easiest to travel with) and figuring out substitutes for the others later. Remember that the meal will never be exactly as you had it the first time. The goal is to just have a taste of your trip again.
What meal have I brought back from a trip? Grilled fish on yellow coconut rice with sautéed green beans and cucumbers. This is a meal my family enjoyed at our Airbnb in Bali 5 years ago and it has been our go-to special occasion meal ever since. The Airbnb included a housekeeper, Wati, who could be hired to cook for the family for an additional fee. Previous guests raved about Wati’s cooking in their reviews so we hired her to cook my dad’s birthday dinner. After that it wasn’t even a question, we needed that recipe.
Games are another easy but meaningful souvenir to bring back. Sometimes all you need is a ball or a deck of cards.
What game have I brought back from a trip? Pick-Up-Sticks. Pick-Up-Sticks is a game that originated in China and can certainly be found in the US today but the first time I ever played it was with my friends in Singapore. The game comes in a small, wooden box so it is easy to transport. Bringing this game back home, even if it was not truly Singaporean, was a way for me to share Singapore with my American friends and bridge the gap between the two worlds I was being exposed to.
Depending on where you are, you might develop certain “rituals” on your trip. In India, my mom and I tried to do morning yoga as a ritual. In the UK, the ritual was having tea every afternoon. Other rituals could include meditation, listening to a certain type of music, taking a siesta or even enjoying “sundowners.” These practices that become routine on your trip are often easy to integrate into your routine back home. And they usually don’t take up any extra room in your suitcase.
What ritual have I brought back from a trip? Afternoon tea with a Japanese twist. While visiting Japan, I fell in love with green tea. I specifically loved the combination of bitter matcha with sweet mochi that we experienced in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony in Kyoto. My mom made it a point to bring home matcha powder, a special bamboo whisk to make the tea, and mochi to go with it. A few months later we were in the UK and we were introduced to the ritual of afternoon tea. My mom, sister, and I combined this lovely practice with the tea and mochi from Japan to create our own version of afternoon tea every day after school.
The piece of the brain that processes smells (the thalamus) is right next to the part that processes new memories (the hippocampus). This is in part why smells are so closely tied to memories. Certain smells will always trigger certain memories for me. For example, the smell of eucalyptus will always make me think of Australia. To find smells to bring home think about the smell of the soaps/lotions in your hotel, consider what scented plants you are consistently walking by, or what candles/incense are regularly burning in restaurants and stores.
What smell have I brought back from a trip? Incense. I love the smell of incense and it always makes me think of my many trips to Asia. Even for those that aren’t crazy about the smell of incense (my mom and sister), it still has the power to trigger positive memories and it’s small enough to fit in my carry-on.
Although experiences you have overseas will never be quite the same as the first time you had them or as having them in that particular place, integrating certain activities, meals, or rituals into life back home will not only ease your transition back to reality but it will allow you to relive elements of that trip for years to come.