Return: Start by minding the end

by Steve Brock on August 11, 2010

One of the most meaningful aspects of travel is our return. In fact, when I talk to people about their trips, I find that anticipation for their trip before they leave and reflection on their trip after they return are some of the most significant aspects of their journey. Unfortunately, though return and reflection stand out as critical elements of rich and meaningful travel, we are notoriously neglectful of both.

Why is this?

Welcome Mat

Return well by starting with the end in mind.

Interestingly, we don’t usually contemplate the return part of our trips until the event is upon us. In fact, a theme we’ll explore over time here is that we prepare well to depart on a trip, but we do little to prepare ourselves to return.

How do you prepare well for return?

  • The simple answer is that you name it: You acknowledge that you will – God willing – return and that life will go on, but differently than when you left.
  • You prepare for return by looking forward to it, not just in the last days of your trip, but before you ever depart and then throughout your journey. Just making mental notes along the way of how you might apply key experiences to your life back home helps cement them in your mind and primes you for later application once you return.
  • You recognize, perhaps from your own experience, that return gives you the place and time to sort out and make sense of all that occurred to you on your trip.

Preparing to return doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. You can still spend most of your mental energy and excitement before your trip figuring out how in one day you’re going to fit in that zip line excursion over the lava pits, see the world’s largest grilled cheese sandwich and find that special stand where trained penguins serve the chocolate avocado spice bubble tea.

All you have to do is keep in mind that all the good stuff doesn’t end on that flight home. What gives your trip deeper meaning beyond the experience itself actually begins once you get back into your daily life.

So on your next trip, start with the end in mind or rather, your mind on the end. It may seem backwards because it is. But you may find that it’s a much more rewarding way to go…and to return.

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