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Travel How to keep your vacation high going when you get back

Practical souvenirs can help evoke the memory of past travel.

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On the shelves of my glass-doored liquor cabinet sits an eclectic mix of bottled beverages, collected from destinations that I’ve visited during my travels. A tiny bottle of Don Julio tequila from Los Cabos, a mickey of Mount Gay rum from Barbados and a can of pineapple beer from Maui sit side-by-side on the top shelf.

These drinks are unopened. They tempt me to take a sip, yet they remain untouched. I’m saving them to enjoy with friends on a special occasion, when I can pair them with stories of my associated travels. Until then, the sight of these bottles takes me back to each place, reminding me of the memories made and the friendships forged while sampling each drink.

Sipping such tipples is one of the best ways I’ve found to keep the buzz going (sometimes literally) after returning home from vacation. Because while I love escaping my everyday routine to explore somewhere new, with the thrill of adventure comes the inevitable return to reality. Before you know it, that vacation high has turned into the back-at-home blahs.

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How to get the high back? Transport yourself by tapping into the power of your senses, remembering the smells, touches, tastes, sounds and sights of the places you’ve visited. Boozy souvenirs optional.

Be hands on

Pens, tote bags, mugs and tea towels may seem kitschy, but purchasing something practical – that you’ll interact with on at least a semi-regular basis – is a great way to remind yourself of a getaway.

“I always buy a piece of jewellery from a local jeweller on big trips,” travel writer Jill Schildhouse shares. “I like wearing my souvenirs and feeling the connection to a place I loved right on my skin. At the moment, I’m wearing a necklace made of Venetian glass, a pearl ring from Mallorca, Spain, and a pair of silver pineapple earrings from Hawaii. They don’t have to be expensive – the earrings were less than $20 – but they bring me joy and are a great conversation starter.”

Turn up the volume

Music is a great way to relive an experience. Canadian children’s entertainer Will Stroet (from Will’s Jams on CBC Kids) likes to create a travel playlist in advance of departure with his family. “This is especially the case when we’re taking a road trip,” he says. "My wife and I have our favourite travelling songs and our daughters have playlists, too. The music we listen to becomes the soundtrack of our trip and when we listen to those songs later, they bring back many beautiful family memories for us.”

Travel writer and author Diane Selkirk also enjoys making memories through music, and often picks up albums while on the road. “I love to buy music when I’m in a place and will crank it up to recapture the vibe,” she says. As she wrote in a recent piece: Nothing takes you back to Mexico like the enduring magic of mariachi music.

Eat your feelings

Suggest showing a slideshow from your travels and get ready to watch your friends squirm. While you may be excited to share your adventures with others, flipping through a plethora of pictures isn’t always the best way to pique their interest.

Stacey Leasca has a solution. “I’ve found friends aren’t often interested in mere travel tales,” the travel writer says. "Instead, I cook them a dish or make them a drink from my recent travels and discuss its history to the area. That way, they learn something new, I get the joy of sharing and we all get to eat.”

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Reminisce through books

For bookworms, stocking up on a collection of local writing is a good way to remember a special destination. An autobiography of a prominent figure, a work of historical fiction or a cookbook by local chefs allows you to delve further into the culture of a beloved spot.

If you have young kids, consider a picture book that highlights the distinct characteristics of each destination you visit. You can read your growing collection together, sharing what made that place so special for your family.

Scent the scene

“It is the olfactory sense that triggers memory the most,” says Krystal Lawrie, a hairstylist and frequent traveller. “Incense, recipes with exotic foreign spices, and lavender sachets that I bought in France – these are some of the things that I covet the most.”

I can relate. A tiny sample of Paradise perfume that I picked up from Lili Bermuda takes me back to my time in the Atlantic island. The perfumery strives to bottle the essence of Bermuda through hand-crafted fragrances that represent its botanicals. I’d say mission accomplished. One inhalation of the scent – brimming with bergamot, sandalwood and spice leaves – and I’m dreaming of my return.

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