Post-vacation blues. Post-holiday blues. Post-travel depression. There are countless names for the feelings of hopelessness and sadness one feels after a vacation. Coming home from travelling can be harder than people think, especially if you have been gone for longer than just a couple of weeks.
When I returned from Europe after three months abroad, I really felt the post-travel blues and it’s no wonder why. After all, what does travel offer us if not endless freedom? Whether we’re strolling the streets of Madrid or reaching Everest Base Camp, our time spent travelling is an empowering experience where we become the masters of our own schedules (and destinies). So when you go from waking up to new sights, sounds and smells every day to waking up in your bed, in your own town, where everything looks exactly like you left it…things can feel pretty bleak. Think of it like a reserve culture shock!
I made the decision after my Eurotrip that I wouldn’t fall prey to depression after my next vacation so most recently, after spending three months in South America, I returned home ready for it.
In the midst of the battle I came up with these five easy steps to conquer the transition from world traveller to regular old local.
1) Give yourself a week to wind down
This might sound silly to some people since you came home from an exciting and appealing experience. What some people don’t know is that when you spend a couple of months or even a year constantly bouncing around, it’s exhausting. Spend some time relaxing instead of immediately diving into real life. I mean, don’t do this for several months, but give yourself a week to get used to being home without worrying about how you should feel or what you should be doing. Don’t even unpack your suitcase if that feels too straining, just *breathe in* and *breathe out,* pet your dog, cat or just catch up on Netflix.
2) Focus on something important
After week or so, focus on something that contributes to your life at home. It will not only help you get used to the return, but it will give you a sense of purpose. When I came back from Europe, there were times I felt useless because I didn’t have a job and was living with my parents. I wasn’t going to let that happen again. At my age, one of the biggest stressors for people that have been away for an extended period of time is looking for a job. This is what I have decided to focus on, applying for jobs that are of high interest to me and setting up information interviews with industry professionals. Make looking for a job, your new full-time job. You’ll be paid in positive feelings and a sense of priceless productivity.
3) Researching your next trip never hurts
Whether you have come home from a one week vacation or a one year journey, everyone knows how it feels to come home and want to go somewhere new. It doesn’t hurt to research. This gives you something to do and look forward to. Learning more about the world can benefit you anyways, so why not expand your knowledge while you have time? You can log into Pinterest, or start a new scrapbook that contains all the dreamy images you need to inspire your next trip abroad. Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t let a potentially depleted bank account discourage your dreams.
4) Keep busy, busy, busy…and busier
This one is important. You’re constantly bouncing around while travelling, meeting new people, doing multiple activities a day and planning. You become used to that lifestyle, then you come home and it stops. Don’t let it! Keep yourself busy. Go to the gym, start cooking, pick up a book, see friends you haven’t seen in a while, learn a new language, do some research on cool events and new restaurants that have opened in your neighbourhood, just do anything! Everything! Eventually you’ll get back to normal.
5) Print your photos and make your album
This is a great thing to do while transitioning back to life at home. You’ll be able to see all your memories printed and tangible, allowing you to remember the journey and recall the quiet moments you may have forgotten throughout the adventure. It takes time and it will allow you to come to terms with the fact that you’re back home. For me, making the photo album can be compared to getting closure after a tough break-up.