Getting Through Post-Travel Depression: The Downside of Coming Back to Reality

It’s not always easy coming back to the reality of a regular (sometimes boring), mainstream life or normal routine after you’ve been gone away on a trip.  Post-vacation or post-holiday blues are seemingly common, especially when a trip away from the mundane was packed with excitement, fun, adventure, or relaxation.

Post-trip blues can be a bit more intense when coming back ‘home’ after an extended trip.

I know. I’ve been there.

I’m not making this stuff up.  It’s legit.  Just ask anyone who has traveled and returned home.

While I’m usually very excited to come home after a long travel adventure, I usually experience a let-down effect in the days after my bags are unpacked and the ordinary routine of home life returns. Though I’ve always climbed out of a post-trip funk relatively quickly, particularly as the distance from my trip grows, jet lag disappears, and lingering nostalgia settles, I know this isn’t the case for everyone.

Some people experience deeper and longer lasting post-trip ruts.

At times, the downside of coming back to reality after travel feels similar to those feelings experienced after a holiday rush–those feelings that surface after the presents that took weeks to shop for are unwrapped, holiday parties are over, and visiting guests have long left.  Some people feel worn down, exhausted, sad, short-tempered, maybe even weepy, and homesick–but for their adventure and for what was, rather than for home.

Sometimes, though, it takes some people longer to bust out of a post-trip mood.  Occasionally, post-trip blues morph into something more serious–depression–which requires professional mental health attention and care.  

The fix?  Is there a cure for post-travel lows?

Yes! Time.  Time usually heals everything, right?  It definitely helps remedy post-vacation blues.

But one of the most effective strategies I’ve discovered to beat the blues is starting to research or plan the next trip.  It’s hard to let the reality of normalcy bite when you are busy filling up your bucket list with new travel ideas.  Planning a future trip is a good distraction.  Plus, a new plan in your calendar book gives you something to get excited about.

A new plan will keep your brain occupied, and replace the space that was earlier occupied by post-trip emotions.  Keep in mind, a new plan could also entail making a big lifestyle change or overhauling your relationships or life direction, perhaps based on something you learned about yourself or discovered while away; consider that the need for real, lasting change of some sort could underlie your post-trip mood.

Talking about your trip with other people, sharing your pics, and stories, or connecting with people you met on your adventure can also go a long way toward recovering from post-trip lows.

Of course, if you happen to be someone who doesn’t experience a post-trip funk, don’t put yourself into one thinking that there’s something wrong with you or your trip experience.  After all, the beauty of travel is that everyone’s experience is uniquely their own.

So, happy, sad, relieved, flooded with mixed emotions, or feeling whatever, take it all in stride.  It’s all part of the adventure.





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