The travel blues can hit you hard. You come home after travelling, back to routine and maybe returning back to work. But you feel it is tough to come home and feel depressed after your vacation? You might suffer from the travel blues. Below more information on what it is, the symptoms and how to overcome post-travel depression.
What are travel blues?
You might have experienced it yourself or know someone in your surrounding who has. While you would expect someone is full on energy or fresh after his holiday, he is feeling depressed after vacations. Mental health is getting more and more attention, however a post travel depression is (in my opinion) still not a well known matter.
My own experience with post-travel depression
For this blog, I would like to speak a bit from my own experience. 6 years ago I went on my first solo trip to Australia (6 months in Sydney, 1-month backpacking). Coming home after this incredible experience I did not feel well. When still in Australia, even if it was 2 months before departure, I could already panic from the idea that I would need to come home after travelling. And that travelling was it all; After 6 months in Sydney, this city felt like my future, discovering a new country, freedom, learning about a new culture and meeting people from all over the world. Life was full of adventures and going back to routine scared me to the fullest.
And there it was, that day the airplane touched ground on Dutch soil. Home. But it didn’t feel like that, even though you are happy to see your family (I even became a first time Auntie while being abroad) and friends. I was down, I was sad… the end of my beloved trip hit me hard.
Back then I found an article that perfectly described how I felt “The Hardest Part Of Traveling No One Talks About”. The first days home were enjoyable, especially being able to meet the young baby girl (4 months old already by then) and be a proud aunt. But then; everything home is still the same, the adventures are not there anymore and mostly I changed! I experienced it completely like described in the article above: “The way your dreams have changed, the way you perceive people differently, the habits you’re happy you lost, the new things that are important to you.…”
What are the symptoms of post travel depression?
A depression? Yes, which can vary much per person with symptoms and duration. Some also call it a reverse culture shock. But I’d rather call it travel blues. After my time abroad I noticed the following symptoms:
- A lot of sleeping and feeling a bit exhausted
- Mood swings
- Focusing still fully on life abroad (being in touch online with friends everywhere)
- Feeling like your friends home don’t understand you anymore
- Comparing everything between the two countries (really I could not stand the Dutch language and rushing way of living anymore)
- Feeling like you lost a lot; your life, your adventures
Other common symptoms:
- Not connecting with your friends and family home
- Avoiding going out of the house
- Change of appetite
- Lack of motivation and concentration
What to do to overcome the travel blues?
Don’t be afraid; help and solutions are there! Below a few of the actions I took to overcome the travel blues:
1. Keep yourself busy
Catch up on hobbies, sport, read the books you always wanted to or try out something new. When returning home I made sure that the agenda was fully packed until I had to return to my studies again. If the days are full, your mind will not wander off to all those other feelings. I was meeting a lot with family and friends, even though that was not always the easiest as I still did not feel happy being home. What helped me a lot was again my little niece, I had a lot of playdates with her.
2. Try out new things and set new goals
Do you also feel you want to keep growing and developing? Then it is time to start creating new dreams and wishes. You could think of new career goals, a new sport, go on mini trips in your area, start a travel blog or join other groups/committees. In general in life, I already need to have a goal and something to look forward to. In this specific situation, it felt needed even more. I still had to do one more year in university before I would graduate. I promised myself to work hard; once I would have that diploma in my pocket the world would be my playground again.
3. Go down memory lane
Feeling post-travel blues does not mean that you should move aside all your memories. No, it actually helped me to go through all the photos and many videos I had. I quickly started editing all the videos to make sure these memories would be kept in a beautiful way forever. Did I feel travel homesick? Oh yes, but I also felt connected to Australia this way. Another thing that could help would be to start a travel blog or to read/write your travel diary.
4. Plan your next trip
After all, the urge to leave was deep inside of me and there was one person who saw that clearly; my mother. I had to start looking into a final internship for graduation and going abroad again was already on my mind but I did not want to seem like I was “running away” from life. It was my mother who gave me the push: “Jorinde, I can see that you are not happy here. Take your opportunities and take off again”. And so I did. Within 3 months I was gone again for half a year to paradise island Mauritius.
A new half-year abroad might be too much for someone else, but weekend trips or other holidays will work much as well. I do not want to say that this is the best medicine. But having this new adventure coming up helped me a lot to get back in the flow and work even harder on making everything possible.
5. Stay connected to the world
Because you are at home doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy anything to do with travelling. I realized I really loved it to help others plan their trips abroad or to give tips on what you need to arrange for an internship abroad. You can also connect with many like-minded people on social media to share experiences.
6. Mindset and gratitude
Well, leaving again would also mean coming back again! Was I afraid of new post-travel blues? OH YES! But I worked on something along the way. To be grateful that I had the opportunity to have these adventures! To be able to gain experience working abroad as a female solo traveller. Be real, not everyone is in the position to do this due to personal or financial reasons… imagine going twice! Every day I would think of things that made me grateful like enjoying a nice curry in Mauritius, seeing the beautiful ocean or swimming with dolphins. Also keeping in mind that it will go away one day and to make the most out of it while I was there.
Little did I know that this departure was the hardest ever; meeting a Mauritian guy, the love of my life! OOPS haha. Now, that is worth a whole different blog post!
Do you still feel all is not helping, do not hesitate to look for professional help. If you need it, you need it!
So did you ever experience the travel blues after returning home? Did any of the post-travel depression actions help you or do you have any other tips? please feel free to share.