Coping with Post-Travel Depression
Bumping along the road the bus slowly grinds to a halt at a red light. Outside the sky is grey, the air is cool, and rain begins to hit the windows. Inside, the passengers, dressed in varying shades of grey, brown, and black, wear a look of apathy on their faces. Many are glued to their cell phones, whiling away the evening commute trying to distract themselves from the thought of repeating the whole process over again.
Wake up, eat, commute, work, commute, eat, sleep. Repeat.
As for me, I’m also on my way home from work, trying not to think about the constant daily routine ahead of me. Knowing how long I will have to wait until I can travel again puts a rain cloud over my head.
Recently I returned from a trip to Central America and the Caribbean where I left a piece of my heart behind. On this trip I felt like I was truly living, discovering new places, different cultures, interesting people, and soaking up the whole experience as much as I could. That's why I travel in the first place, to feel alive. But trips like these aren’t a constant reality for me. Unlike a lot of travel bloggers out there, I only travel part-time. I work a full-time job, and save up until I can afford to go away again.
The last couple of days abroad my mind starts to focus on home and all of the mundane tasks that I know await me. I try to push these thoughts from my mind for as long as possible, but soon the post-vacation blues set in.
The Travel Blues
Post-travel depression usually occurs after a trip and can last from a couple of days to a few weeks or even longer. It’s the stretch of time that it takes for me to sink back into my daily routine, my work, and all the stresses that go along with it. Exhaustion sets in, my appetite disappears, I keep thinking back to my trip and ignore the present, and suddenly life seems a lot less enjoyable. I often feel like I’m slowly being pulled back into a coma, all the while trying to keep hold of some of the energy and life that traveling brought out from inside of me.
Now this sounds bad and it is, but I’ve come to realize that without these feelings I would never understand how important travel is to me. As I begin to focus on my next adventure, the overwhelming longing to travel soon pushes the blues from my mind.
People often say that humans are creatures of habit but I disagree. A life full of routine and repetitiveness is detrimental to our health and well being. Instead, I think we’re creatures of adventure. Sure, being on a permanent vacation isn’t a realistic idea for many of us, myself included, but going out in the world continues to remain a high priority in my life. And so, for now, I try to cope with the post-travel blues as best I can.
After all, another trip is always on the horizon.
How to cope with post-travel depression
Get back into a regular exercise routine, eat healthy foods, and get the rest that your body needs, especially when dealing with jet lag.
If possible, don’t rush back into work. Instead, slowly ease in and maybe take a day or two off prior to returning to work. I often find that the first couple of days after a vacation are the hardest when you need to take care of things at home like grocery shopping, paying bills, laundry, chores, etc.
Remember that you can still have a good time when you’re not traveling. Get outside. Go for a walk. Take advantage of long weekends and go somewhere.
My #1 tip for dealing with post-vacation depression? Start planning and saving for your next trip, whether it’s a week long road trip or a backpacking tour stretching several months.