Post-Travel Depression : Yes, it’s a thing

Your heart aches and your feet itch; the passport pages cry out to be stamped and your pack sits in a corner waiting to be unpacked from the day before. You are feeling the loss of the journey but your family and friends aren’t feeling the pity.

For some, post-travel depression sets in a week or so after returning home. It can hit you like a ton of bricks on your chest or like a swift wind, pushing you towards the next journey a couple months after the high wears off as the trinkets and photos gather dust on a shelf. It can even mix itself into the great pot of homesickness and euphoria of the adventure while you are still climbing the mountain and breathing in the exotic air of new places. The looming reality that the adventure ends and you return home in the next couple days can choke out some of the joy of the current trip.

So what is it?

Post-travel depression is that let down that you feel once the excitement of the trip has worn off. You’ve returned to normal, every-day life and the excitement of the road, of new experience & places, new people and encountering the unknown on a regular basis and you feel like you aren’t where you belong anymore. Home, isn’t home. You’ve changed, but it stayed exactly the same.

  • Exhaustion
  • General sadness
  • Loss of appetite
  • lack of motivation
  • Feelings of nostalgia
  • Immediately planning the next adventure (I’m guilty of this one, usually before the trip has ended)

Great, I have post-travel depression. Now what? Here are some ways to cope and ease the onset of post-travel depression.

  • Talk It Out
    • Talking about your trip, showing pictures to others, sharing experiences and souvenirs can be helpful but that wears off too. Especially if the trip changed you in inexplicable ways or was so unique that putting it into words seems to fall just short of what you experienced firsthand.
  • Be a Busy Body
    • Instead of letting your trip wind down and be more relaxed at the end of a long trip, try packing a few of your activities into the end of your trip to avoid the post-trip blues creeping in before you have returned home.
  • Curiosity & Adventure
    • That same feeling of constant curiosity and adventure that you have on your travels should be applied to your “normal” life.
    • Challenge yourself to try new things; explore your city like a tourist, take a glassblowing class, take a tour of the local historical site or home, take a cake decorating  or a cooking class, try new places and new things with friends.
  • Walk Memory Lane
    • When you return home it can be tempting to make scrapbooks, albums and print all your photos right away. Instead, leave a few of these for later, when you need to relive the adventure with fresh excitement. Rekindle that memory and relive it with the photos and journal entries.
    • Share the memories with your friends. If you traveled with them, get together and talk about your most surprising realization from the trip, or tell your favorite funny event and relive that moment with those who experienced it with you.
  • Take Your Time
    • If you took time away from a job or school, don’t return to it the day after coming back. Give yourself at least a day or two to ease back into the slower, less exciting (or more chaotic) life you left behind. This doesn’t mean to allow yourself to wallow in the sadness that eased its way in. Unpack, wash your clothing, find a place for your souvenirs, download cameras and catch up with friends to hear all about what they have been up to while you were away. If you can take a week, a few days or a day…take it. Everyone is different but the longer you are away, the longer it usually takes to ease back into life at home.
  • Let things go
    • Living your life out of a 65 liter backpack for 26 days brings on a sort of realization that nothing else seems to offer. You don’t need as much as you own. So what do you do? DE-CLUTTER!
      • Get rid of the non-essentials. Donate or sell items you don’t use and clothing you don’t need/wear or just don’t fit. Throw out things that are broken, missing pieces/parts. Downsize your life and maybe put a little bit of money in your savings for the next trip.
  • Plan the next adventure
    • Yes, this can be a sign of post-travel depression, but it is also a great way to ease that longing to go.
    • Talk to your traveling companions and see if anyone would be up to another trip in the next year. Gather information on general costs so that you can save and plan ahead.
    • Start compiling information on the locations you want to visit, the tours available and the sites you just can’t miss.

I figured out a long time ago that I have a wanderer’s heart. A vagabond soul that pleads with me and begs to continue to find the next journey and adventure on the next page of my passport. So,  I’m always thinking of where I want to be off to next. I have a list of places to see, things to try and a general idea of where to stay, eat and the costs involved. All I need is to save up and go.

“Keep your heart open, a suitcase packed and wander often for the world is wide and adventure awaits.”

~ Emylee



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