Post-Vacation Depression? Here’s How to Beat It!

Post-vacation blues. Post-holiday blues. Post-tour depression. Depression after vacation. There are countless names for the feelings of hopelessness and sadness one feels after a vacation. Coming home from traveling can be harder than people think, especially if you have been gone for longer than just a couple of weeks. We’re saying it: depression after vacation can be downright debilitating.

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 freedom, excitement, and inspiration? Whether we’re strolling the streets of Madrid or reaching Everest Base Camp, our time spent traveling is an empowering experience where we become the masters of our own schedules. 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 as a reserve culture shock!

I made the decision after my tour through Europe 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 traveler to regular old local.

1. Give yourself a week to wind down

Me literally falling on my bed each time I come home

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,* show your pet some love if you have one, or just catch up on Netflix.

2. Focus on something important

Me sharing my top skills on my resume

After a 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 informational interviews with industry professionals.

Another option could be to redecorate your home, paint a piece of furniture a new exciting color, sort the boxes in the attic/basement, or simply rearrange the furniture. You’ll be paid in positive feelings and a sense of priceless productivity. 

3. Researching your next trip never hurts

Me pretending researching my next trip is my new job

Whether you have come home from an 8-day vacation or a longer adventure, 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 anyway, 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. With something to aim for, saving will be easier, and you’ll be back on the trail again sooner than you think.

4. Keep busy, busy, busy…and busier

This is not what I look like doing yoga

This one is important. You’re constantly bouncing around while traveling, 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 neighborhood, or just do anything! Everything! Eventually, you’ll get back to normal.

5. Print your photos and make your album

Me literally crying over how much I miss being on vacation

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 provides a sensation of closure and thankfulness for the good moments and fond memories. And it’s a reminder that there’s always a chance to go on another trip in the near future!

Did I miss a tip that you think is essential? Add yours in the comments section below!

Are you sick of reality already? Then find your next tour now. 

What is post-vacation depression?

Post-vacation depression is the feeling of hopelessness and sadness you can feel after a vacation. Coming back home from traveling can be harder than people think, especially if you have been gone for a longer period and gotten used to someplace else or distanced yourself from your every day at home.

What shall you do if you are sad after a vacation?

  1. Give yourself a week to wind down.
  2. Focus on something important that will have an impact on your life at home.
  3. Keep busy, busy, busy…and busier.
  4. Print your photos and make your album
  5. Researching your next trip on TourRadar never hurts.

What to do if you are severely depressed after a vacation?

If your symptoms fall into the clinical definition of depression, make sure to get in touch with your doctor or a therapist in order to decide which are the recommended next steps for taking care of your mental well-being.

Why do I feel sad or weird after a vacation?

There are many possible reasons, but it’s possible that since you lived a “different” life for a while, now you are reconsidering many aspects of your “usual” life.

To feel better, browse our tours and find your next destination on TourRadar! Something to look forward to always helps.

Based in Toronto, Katie has travelled to over 25 countries and loves going to new places, trying new food and cooking as much as she can. After living in Banff, Alberta for two years, she continued to travel Europe and South America extensively. Now, she continues to see the world one step at a time.

a girl sitting on a wall overlooking a mountain
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