When the end of a vacation marks the start of your sad days.
After spending time abroad, its easy to feel overwhelmed and under excited by the mundane tasks of, um, not traveling. Getting reacquainted with friends, family and even simple tasks like grocery shopping can be enough to make you want to hide in your room from stress.
Post-travel depression–or the post-vacation blues as they are known to some– manifests differently in every person and can have different effects depending on where you went or how long you were away. For some, it’s that crippling dread of returning to work on Monday after two weeks spent on a beach in Mexico, for others it’s a sense of lethargy and detachment that stalks you like a shadow for weeks or months after coming home.
However it hits you, the post-travel blues are no joke, and finding ways to effectively deal with them is important for your mental health. Here are a few tips to help you ease back into your real life routine after your adventures are done.
1. Allow Yourself Some Time
It’s easy to get frustrated with your own emotions, particularly when you don’t fully understand where they are coming from or how to stop being upset, but it’s important to be kind to yourself when you’re feeling blue. When you schedule your trip – and your return – it can be tempting to come back at the very last minute so that you have as much vacation time as possible, but it might actually be a better idea to schedule a day of downtime for yourself before heading back to work.
A day or two of downtime will give you an opportunity to unpack, shower, and settle in without feeling rushed, which will ease some of the shock of coming back to your daily routine.
It can be really difficult for travelers to connect with people after they return, in part because talking about your amazing travel experiences means you run the risk of turning into that ever-bragging person who never shuts up about their trip in the eyes of your friends, and also because some of your friends and family who have never left home might just not understand what your trip means to you.
People who live full time in a van, out of a backpack, or have more airline miles on their credit cards than they know what to do with often share a lot of the same values and interests. So when you come back home, try to find some friends like this so you have like-minded people to connect with.
P.S. It's easy to find your forever travel friends by joining one of our trips.
3. Be a Tourist in Your Own City
Many travelers love the sense of discovery they get when exploring a new place, whether that means learning about history and culture in a museum, or sampling local specialties at restaurants and from street vendors. But the thing is, our hometowns have all that stuff too, and many of us take it completely for granted.
When you’re itching to go somewhere new but you’re still stuck at home, try to take on the mindset of a tourist on your own familiar ground. Visit that traveling art exhibit in one of your city’s museums, scout out some touristy attractions, go for a hike, take photos and try to recreate that exciting feeling of adventure.
4. Create Mementos of Your Trip
Sometimes when life overwhelms you, it can help to remember some of the things that made you smile from your trip. If you kept a travel journal during your adventures, reread some of your entries, scroll through photos (maybe even print and hang a few!) or hold the mementos (like a paper map) that you kept. This will be sure to send all that oxytocin rushing to your travel-deprived brain.
5. Start Planning Your Next Trip
When your trip is over, don’t think of it as an ending, but rather like you’re hitting pause on your travels. The knowledge that you didn’t just have a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip, but instead completed a single chapter in your epic travel story, can help frame your return in an entirely different light. So when settled life gets you down, and adventure and travel start calling your name, then by all means you should answer it, because more travel is the absolute best cure for the post-travel blues (it’s also a total catch 22, but once you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, there’s no getting rid of that thing!).
Make a list of the things that you love about traveling, and find ways to incorporate those things into your daily life. Use the tips from this list and whatever else you come up with to build a life that doesn’t make you feel like you need to escape it.
Do you dread going to work every single day? Look into getting a different job, possibly one that incorporates travel or lets you work remote.
Do you feel like you and your friends have drifted since you returned from your travels? Look into strengthening those friendships with some quality time spent doing things you both love, or building relationships with people who share your new interests.
The post-travel blues are not something that happens to everyone, and even if you do suffer from it, your experience might be completely different from someone else’s. But mental health is incredibly important so doing whatever you can to maintain your state of happiness is vital, whether traveling or home.