Photo Credit: Jessica Felicio
Post-Travel Depression Is Real...Here Are 8 Ways to Bounce Back
You’ve just landed home after an unforgettable travel experience. Think, your favorite annual conference with like-minded peers or a weeks-long stint working remotely in your dream destination.) But as the high of all that you explored and the people you met wears off, an overwhelming feeling of sadness sets in.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Post-travel depression, also known as PTD, is described as a type of mood a person may experience as a result of returning home from a long trip. The longer the trip, the more likely you are to experience a heightened sense of PTD.
Not sure if you’re experiencing the post-vacation blues or if something else is amiss? A few common symptoms of post-travel depression include:
- Feelings of stress, anxiety, lethargy, irritability, loss of appetite, or nostalgia
- Struggling to adjust back into your at-home life and routine
- Feeling disconnected from family and friends who you feel no longer understand you
- Comparing and criticizing life at home in favor of the ways things are done abroad
- Excessively thinking or researching how to live abroad in lieu of focusing on the present
Returning home can be an adjustment but it doesn’t have to be an uphill battle with the right tools to cope. Let’s explore eight ways to work through PTD and ride the wave of travel joy long after you’ve landed.
Share Your Memories
Whether you’re posting your favorite photos and videos on social media or starting (or restarting) your personal blog, sharing memories from your travels can prolong your travel joy and extend the good feelings once you’ve returned home. Creating Reels or TikTok videos is a great way to relive your memories while tapping into your creativity.
If posting publicly isn’t your thing, consider updating your home decor with artwork or photo walls using images captured during your adventurous time away.
Plan a Post-Travel Detox
If your travel itinerary looks anything like ours, you may indulge in more food and libations than normal. Planning a detox on the other side of a vacation is always a good idea to reset your brain and body.
Air travel can lead to dehydration for many travelers, so staying hydrated while on vacation and upon return is essential to easing back into normal life. Detoxing after a vacation can do wonders for your physical and mental health.
Spend Time with Family and Friends
Having the time of your life and returning home to business as usual can spark a feeling akin to someone letting air out of your tires. Deflating, to say the least.
Schedule an activity (or two) with your loved ones to ward off feelings of disconnection or isolation. By spending time with those who matter most, you can each share what you’ve been up to since you last connected. It also gives you another chance to share your travel highlights and catch up on the latest with family and friends.
Include a Reset Day in Your Vacation Time
In an effort to please employers and clients, we often find ourselves jumping back into hectic routines on the other side of travel to make up for perceived time lost or as a display of commitment to our career.
The next time you request off or block vacation on your self-employed calendar, consider adding a day (or more) to your OOO status.
Hopping back into your schedule immediately after travel can be disorienting and exhausting so give yourself time to unpack, do laundry, and go grocery shopping. Trust us, one more day to get yourself together won’t hurt.
Explore Like a Tourist In Your City
Having amazing experiences doesn’t always require catching a flight or spending hours on the road to places you’ve never been. While you may be more inclined to sightsee, do walking tours, or visit a museum when in another city or country, the same exploratory energy can be applied to where you live.
From local festivals to cultural events, being a tourist in your own city can help keep your back-home blues at bay.
Incorporate Your Travel Experiences Into At-Home Life
Another way to extend your travel wonder is to bring newfound discoveries home with you in the form of art, recipes, or music from your time away.
For example, on a recent month-long trip to Mexico City, I stumbled upon a record shop where I walked out with albums that would be harder to find stateside. Now that I’m home, every time I pull out my Chaka Khan or Diana Ross records, I’m transported back to Mexico’s capital city and my pleasant interaction with the local vinyl shop owner.
The same applies to traditional meals you can add to your at-home cooking list or finding local dance classes to keep your newfound bachata or salsa steps fresh.
Plan Your Next Trip
Planning your next trip before or shortly after your current one ends is by no means a green light to keep yourself so booked that you’re avoiding real life, but as the old saying goes, sometimes the only way to get over an old situation is to get into a new one.
Even if you’re not ready to confirm travel arrangements, thinking about where you want to go next can be helpful in keeping your mind forward-focused. If you’re busy thinking about all the fun you had and how it’s over, you may experience feelings of lack of motivation or fulfillment with your current situation.
If you don’t have one already, consider making a list of places you want to visit in the next few months or a year and set your sights on what’s next instead of what was.
Talk to a Therapist
It’s normal to have the post-vacation blues for a few days or even a week or two, but prolonged feelings of sadness may be a sign it’s time for professional support.
Talking to a therapist is a great way to process emotions as you transition back into daily life. Whether your depression is related to travel or not, seeking the help of a professional can offer the tools you need to find your center again.
TL;DR – It’s perfectly normal to feel down after returning from travels that left an imprint on you in a good way. The key to working through post-vacation depression is leaning on your tribe, giving yourself the grace to adjust, and making plans to keep yourself entertained once you’re back home (after your rest day, of course).