People probably won’t have a lot of sympathy for you when
you tell them you’re suffering from a serious case of the blues after your
amazing vacation, but I’ve certainly spent enough times sobbing on flights home
to tell you that post-travel depression is real.
On my flight back to the U.S. after a stint living in Paris
it took me exactly 2 glasses of the complimentary Air France champagne to start
tearing up while talking to my neighbors about my time in France (after having
already cried the for the better part of the day). No alcohol was needed to
induce tears when I started sobbing at the gate for my connecting flight in Dallas after a month-long backpacking trip through Panama with my
best friend. And, most recently, all it took was a simple question from a cab
driver for me to start the waterworks as I watched the sun rise over the
Caribbean on my way to the airport in Santo
Domingo. As much as I like my life, my friends, my
family, and my job back at home, I never handle the end of a trip well.
If travel is a drug (or an addiction to a drug), then coming
home from your trip is a lot like going through withdrawal. You just finished
having the time of your life—buzzing on new experiences and high on
adventure—and now you are home, back at work and experiencing a wickedly bad
travel hangover. Your head hurts and you kind of want to puke, but you are also
craving more of exactly what has made you feel this way.
While you may not quite be having a Requiem for a Dream
experience (with your friends being forced to strap you to bed in order to
prevent you from hopping on another plane), everything at home may seem, well,
lackluster. You’re depressed and craving more of that travel juice that pumps
that magic combination of endorphins and adrenaline through your system—even if
you know you’ll have the same crash when the next trip is over.
Turns out I am certainly not alone in experiencing these
post-trip blues, which is what inspired me to talk to many a hearty traveler
and ask them what helps ease their back-at-home-again depression. Here are 10 ways to get over your travel
1 – Immerse yourself in your hometown culture/become a tourist in your own town
Unfortunately the responsibilities of home (work, family, a
mortgage etc.) usually prevent us from being permanent vagabonds traveling the
world, which means learning how to live everyday life with a travel mentality
is a great way to get over that post-trip depression.
Become a tourist in your own town. Go to that new restaurant
you’ve been meaning to try. Spend an afternoon at the museum checking out the
newest exhibit. Go on that hike to the waterfall you’ve never seen. Maybe even
spend the day like a tourist in your own town (imagine what you would show an
out of town visitor).
All these activities can bring back some welcome travel
feelings and get you re-excited about all the great things that make you glad
to call your city home.
2 – Take shorter trips closer to home
Maybe your budget and your job prevent you from being able
to take off on month-long plus adventures all of the time, but that doesn’t
mean you can’t enjoy shorter trips in between the big ones. Become a weekend
warrior and head out on day and weekend trips close to where you live.
With airfares continuing to hit record lows, it is even easy
to hop on a plane and head somewhere a few states away for the weekend. Or, if
you have even less time and money, even a trip just a few hours from home can
re-invigorate you and satiate that travel craving just enough to tide you over
to the next big trip.
3 – Write about your trip
Whether you want to write about your trip or about your
post-trip blues, putting your thoughts and experiences on paper can be really
therapeutic. Write about the memories from your trip while they are still fresh
or jot down your feelings on what it’s like to be back at home again.
Since I found that people tend to have very little sympathy
for post-trip blues (“You just got back from Panama, Julie, will you please
stop complaining”), I found that writing about the way I was feeling in a
journal to be really helpful. I could complain all I wanted without expecting
any sympathy. It validated the way I was feeling and helped me deal with the
Of course, the wonderful world of the web has also provided
everyone with a medium to express their thoughts/feelings and emotions. Are you
passionate about the place you just traveled? Start a blog and write about.
Spending your energy focused on what you love about travel or a certain
destination can help you regain some perspective and distract you from those
post-trip depression feelings.
4 – Start planning your next adventure
While you probably wouldn’t encourage an addict to start
planning their next fix, travel is a drug that’s completely ok to be addicted
to—so go ahead and plan away. So what if you just got back and may not be able
to take off on the next trip until next year? Starting to plan your next
adventure is a great way to direct your energy towards something other than
being sad about your trip being over.
Planning the next big adventure will also not only give you
more travel to look forward to (which always helps post-trip blues), but it can
also direct your energy to researching and booking where you want to go next.
What better way to stop feeling sad about leaving behind Latin American
empanadas than learning about the Vietnamese pho you’ll eat on your next trip?
5 – Remember that everyday life is what makes travel so invigorating
Now, of course this suggestion is one of those things that’s
much easier said then done, but trying to keep everything in perspective can
really help you deal with the post-trip blues. Keep in mind that part of what
makes travel so alluring and special is that it is out of the ordinary and
completely different from your usual routine. Everyday traveling seems to holds
so many new adventures, but if you spent enough time on the road, there would
probably be things you’d miss a lot about your normal everyday routine back
Think of all the things you are glad to be coming home to—whether
that be a normal flushing toilet, your favorite workout class, cooking dinner
in your own kitchen or hanging out with your best friend—and keep in mind that
these are the very things you miss out on when you are on the road. Approaching
your life at home with the same mentality and attitude for adventure can also
help home feel a lot more exciting on a day-to-day basis.
I also always appreciate things when I feel like I’ve earned
them (delayed gratification), so waiting for your next trip or saving money to
take it will make your next travel adventure even that more rewarding.
6 – Eat your favorite foods from your trip
This one’s kind of a double-edged sword. While seeking out
the foods that you loved and ate while on your last trip may help ease the pain
of being back at home, finding watered down versions of your favorite foreign
foods may just make you even more sad. That being said, seek out the authentic.
After eating patacones (fried plantains) for a month in Panama, my friend Lindsey would venture to Washington Heights
in New York City where she could find street
vendors selling fresh patacones right here in the United States.
Can’t get over all those delicious French pastries you ate
in Paris? Find the most authentic French bakery near you and indulge in a flaky treat. Can’t
get over that pizza you had in Rome? Go a hunt for the best slice in your hometown.
While you are guaranteed to not find your favorite traveling
foods at home (that’s what made them so amazing in the first place, right?),
sampling your way through your town’s pizzerias or finding a close-to-perfect
croissant will certainly brighten your spirits and un-dampen your mood.
7 – Find a community that is just as passionate about travel or a destination as you
Sticking with this analogy of travel being a drug, just like
addicts need support groups to cope with their addictions, so do travelers.
Think AA for travel junkies. While your mom may not have much sympathy for you
when you tell her your depressed about your vacation being over, there are
plenty of people who know exactly how you feel and can totally identify with
In fact, BootsnAll first started ten years ago as a way for
travelers to connect to one another and serve this very purpose. Today there
are a ton of resources out there on the web that allow you to connect to other
travel addicts who know how you are feeling. With social media sites liek Twitter allowing people from around the globe to connect, you can talk (or should we say tweet) your way through your depression. If you are more of an in-person
kind of person, than find a local travel meet-up group like this one in my
and commiserate with other travelers over a beer or two (and maybe even
experience an altogether different kind of travel hangover the next day).
8 – Make a photo album or scrapbook
I know this sounds cliché, but collecting up your photos,
tickets, postcards and other memorabilia from the trip and putting together an
album can really help you feel better about being back at home. Not only will
you get the opportunity to look at all of your pictures and obsess about your
great trip a little longer, focusing your energy on something positive about
your trip (rather than wallowing in the fact that it’s over) can really go a
long ways in helping you to conquer those post-trip blues.
9 – Take a language class or join a conversation group
Whether you just got back from Mexico and want to keep up with
your Spanish or are planning your next trip and want to learn how to
communicate wherever your are going (see suggestion # 4), taking a language
class or joining a conversation group can be a great way to conquer your
post-trip depression in several ways.
Learning a new language will have you trying something new
and mixing up your home routine that you may be finding yourself bored with.
Second, working on language skills will engage part of your brain that you
usually have on when traveling, and can help you get back a little of that
on-the-road feeling again. Lastly, taking a language class or joining a
conversation can often help you connect to other travelers and people
passionate about a certain destination (see suggestion #7)—introducing you to
people not only to talk incessantly about Italy (or wherever else), but can
also connect you to people who may commiserate with your feelings of post-trip
10 – Work on your photography skills
This suggestion can easily paired with suggestion #1 (Become
a tourist in your own town), but those times in between trips can serve as the
perfect opportunity to improve upon your travel skills. Take your camera with
your on a tour of your own home town and practice new photography techniques on
the sites you see everyday. Luckily in a world of digital photography you won’t
have to worry about wasting film (a concept my grandmother has yet to grasp).
By working on perfecting your photography skills at home, you’ll be sure not to
miss that perfect, once-in a lifetime shot when you are traveling again.
Another way of improving your own photos can also be to look
at other photographers’ work. It will also give you an excuse to spend entirely
too long looking at photos of the place you just got back from or the place you
are hoping to go on your next adventure. There is a great site that allows you
to search daily photoblogs for cities around the world, giving you inspiration
not only for your photography skills, but also for your next adventure.
About the Author
BootsnAll staff writer Julie Blakley has found herself battling
her own bouts of post-travel blues, which prompted her to find a job where she
could think and talk about travel all of the time. When she’s not busy planning
her next adventure (or crying at the airport), she writes France Travel Guide.
Additional photo credits: