10 Ways to Cope With The Post Travel Blues

Feeling down after an uplifting trip? You could be suffering from travelers' depression. The first step to coping is unpacking what that means. So let's.

Trips can be life-changing, making the return to our day-to-day lives a real drag. Restorative for our mental and physical health, traveling has a way of reigniting our sense of self and allowing us to fully breathe in the present moment. Going home can feel like leaving those things behind, but it doesn’t have to.

When we wrap up a trip, we often launch back into our typical routine immediately. In turn, we wind up with the post-travel blues and nowhere to go. So when you get back, it’s imperative that you give yourself a moment to fully breathe. And we’re here to unpack helpful ways to do it.

Here’s how to cope with feeling down post-trip and bring the best part of your trip home with you.

Unpacking Post-Travel Depression

Vacations are good for us, and sometimes, much needed. Per Healthline, “one long-term study found that workplace policies allowing 10 days of paid vacation leave were associated with a 29 percent drop in depression risk.”

Upon your return, mental health professionals say that the good feeling on vacation usually dwindles within a few days for most. That’s when you’ll likely notice the post-travel blues kicking in the hardest.

Post-travel depression is feeling down when a trip comes to an end. But sometimes, it starts days before heading home. Other symptoms of the post-travel blues include lethargy, loss of appetite, less motivation, and a heavy yearning to get back out in the world stat.

Melancholic woman looks out the window of tram.

Post-travel depression can potentially last for weeks or even months. Many who experience it report that feeling “back to normal” takes a while after returning home, especially if they’ve been away for a lengthy period of time. But understanding how and why it happens can help you regulate sooner.

As TripSavvy puts it, “travel is transformative.” Exploring the world and fully connecting to one’s surroundings can make us feel reinvigorated, refreshed, and like our best, most present selves. But maintaining this awakened state of being is not always so easy when returning to our typical routines where nothing has changed. It’s important to remember that things have changed for you, so you return in a different state of mind than when you left. Throwing yourself back into your old routine with no changes may not really be in your best interest.

Unsurprisingly, the post-travel blues can seriously impact our well-being, making it that much more important to prioritize taking care of yourself before, during, and after your travels. Thankfully, there are tried and true ways to minimize feeling low and maintain the positive effect your travels had on you. Here’s what to know.

During The Final Days of Your Trip, Stay Busy

young man traveling backpacker in Khaosan Road outdoor market in Bangkok, Thailand

When your trip is coming to an end, find ways to stay busy and stimulated. Time is of the essence, after all. Instead of settling into your post-travel sadness, make the most of what time you have left.

Find things to do that take your mind off of the looming end and allow you to keep living in the moment. Not to mention, leaving your trip on a good note will help you feel better once you depart.

Find a museum, go snorkeling with a tour guide, or just take a lengthy, scenic stroll. When you’re getting stuck in your head about leaving, it helps to keep your mind focused on what’s in front of you instead. Your trip is not over just yet, so don’t cut your experience short by mentally, emotionally, or physically checking out.

When You Get Home, Unwind (if You Can)

man relaxing and listening to head phones on couch

Immediately throwing yourself into your typical routine is not in anyone’s best interest. But in some situations, it’s the only option we have. If you’re among the lucky ones who return from a trip with time on their hands, use it wisely. And by that, I mean relax.

Giving yourself a few days to transition back into everyday life will help you naturally ease into your return rather than flipping a switch and running on autopilot. If possible, set up your trip so that when you return, it isn’t to a world of obligation, but instead, a moment to decompress before you return to your daily to-do list.

By giving yourself those extra days, you’ll also get a chance to recuperate from jetlag, unpack, catch up, settle in, and reflect on your trip with gratitude. So prioritize decompressing when you return. Chances are, you’ll feel a lot better than if you don’t.

Spend Time With Your Friends  

three female friends laughing

You’ll likely want to share fun anecdotes from your travels when you return. If you’ve just returned, now’s the time to relive your vacation. Reach out to friends while your trip is still fresh, and they’re curious. Experts say talking about your trip and your life as it stands can help alleviate the post-travel blues. And it’s not hard to see why.

Swap stories about what’s happened since you’ve seen each other last. Connect to the world and the people around you, rather than isolating and flipping through photos of where you no longer are. Post pictures on social media when you’re feeling nostalgic and want to share. Let the happy memories wash over you, and share them with those you feel will appreciate it. Connecting is good for us, after all, especially when we’re feeling a little down.

Maintain a Traveler’s Mindset

Many who travel say they have a different mindset while out in the world. I’d like to think that it has something to do with grounding within ourselves. When we are on the road or in another country, we must embrace new things and open ourselves up to new experiences.

While traveling, we must always leave our day-to-day behind to some extent, allowing ourselves to more viscerally engage with our experiences and ourselves. We may do things on vacation we’d never do back at home. We aren’t as inhibited by our routine and oftentimes, the kind of daily ruts that lead us to need a vacation in the first place.

The best part of your trip is always the good feelings that came from your travels, no matter where you went. And those feelings aren’t bound to the place you went. Those feelings and “out of character” actions live within you. And so you can tap into your travelers’ mindset when you go home.

woman meditating next to closed laptop and phone turned off

When you go home, keep trying new things. Once a week, step outside of your comfort zone, learn something new, and allow yourself to keep growing within your routine. Sometimes, the post-travel blues simply happen because we gave ourselves fresh stimuli on vacation and then replaced them with only what’s familiar.

Upon your return, it also helps to remember what worked for you when you had the momentary freedom to do whatever you wanted. At least that’s been the case for me. On a recent trip to Antigua, I eased into each day. I stayed away from my phone and left my computer behind. I did things that felt like a luxury because I rarely get to do them at home. And my energy level went from a 5 to a 10.

Ultimately, having days where no one expected anything of me reminded me of how it felt during summers growing up. While reinvigorating, not constantly managing responsibilities felt foreign. On vacation, I could see that I’d gotten so bogged down by my obligations and others’ expectations that I’d forgotten how to just be. More importantly, I remembered how crucial it is for my health, and I know I’m not alone in that.

Trips have a way of reminding us who we are, what we need, and where those things might be missing in our day-to-day. Remember what worked for you on vacation and find ways to incorporate those modes of operating rather than dismissing them as “vacation-only” tendencies. By doing so, you’ll likely find yourself living to the fullest more often, even in the face of all you have no choice but to do.

Explore Your Surroundings 

This one connects to maintaining a traveler’s mindset but requires getting out and about. Your trip being over doesn’t mean your desire to explore ends. And the places to explore never cease to exist. You just have to get out and find them.

Traveling can help us develop a newfound sense of appreciation for our surroundings and even breathe new life into ours. So when you return, make it a mission to start exploring where you live if you don’t do so already. And try to see your city through a tourist’s eyes.

woman walking in grass and holding  in hand herb  wildflowers  in summer mountains, travel concept, peaceful relaxing moment.

Hop on a tour bus or try a new restaurant. Go for a nature walk in a nearby forest. Visit the places your city is famed for and the places you’ve never bothered going to.

No matter how long we’ve been somewhere or how familiar we might be, there are always new things to learn and learn from. So explore the world around you, and look at it through a fresh lens.

Reread Your Travel Diary and Reflect

woman reading her journal on a couch

Keeping a travel journal (or blog) can be fun and soothing. When we travel, there are often moments we never want to forget. Start writing them down. When you feel the post-travel blues creeping in, reflect on your most treasured experiences by rereading your entries. It’ll take you back to the best parts of your trip and give your mind something new to explore.

You can also start a blog when you get back. Having a space to reminisce on and unpack your recent experience can help you sort through your feelings. By sharing your thoughts, feelings, and trip photographs, you’ve created a sentimental and potentially therapeutic scrapbook. Think of releasing your trip from your being and allowing it to become a part of your life, rather than leaving it behind.

Arrange Your Souvenirs 

various tourism souvenirs on a table

Sometimes, a little bit goes a long way. This might seem like a tiny step, but it can make you feel a lot better if you’re dealing with the post-travel blues. Assuming you brought back souvenirs, spend some time sorting through them, deciding who gets what, and finding a place for the special trinkets you want to keep.

Once you’re home, the other best part about your trip is easily the memories you made. So find a spot for those good vibes and happy times in your home.

Plan Your Next Trip  

couple planning their travels together with a world map

Once you’ve decompressed, be proactive. By that, I mean start planning your next trip stat. It helps to have something to look forward to. And trips have a way of awakening the wanderer in each of us. So go with that momentum and set your sights on traveling more.

Sit down and make a list. Where are the top places you want to visit? Figure out where you’re going next and start devising a plan. Sometimes, we return with the trip’s end weighing us down. No longer feeling the rush or the high, we feel mostly flat while we resume our duties.

That’s one key reason the promise of a future trip can be uplifting and keep our minds off past travels.

Help Out Other Travelers 

woman helping man figure out where he is going in a city

One of my favorite parts about traveling is meeting people and the kindness of strangers. We all rely on locals or fellow travelers at some time or another. Whether we got lost and need directions or a restaurant recommendation, someone has helped us find our way. And when you come home, there’s an opportunity to pay that kindness forward.

If you see a tourist looking lost, help them out. Smile and say hello more often. Be the kind of stranger you hope to encounter when you’re globe trotting around unfamiliar places. Helping others is a good thing to do, and it feels good. Not to mention, it can help us get out of our heads when we need it the most.

Take Care of Yourself 

father doing yoga with a baby on his back

Whether we are traveling or not, taking care of ourselves isn’t always easy. But it’s always important. Maybe you’re the kind of person who goes on a trip and takes way better care of yourself than usual, revving up the exercise and getting proper rest for once. Or, maybe you’re the opposite. Perhaps you like to eat heavy foods, stay up late, and lounge by the pool all day long. And there’s no wrong way to vacay.

No matter how you like to vacation, returning home is an opportunity to reset and use your time wisely. In other words, now is the time to take better care of yourself with your recent trip in mind. Whatever you weren’t doing before you left, now’s the chance to start healthier habits with a clean slate. Join a gym or cook dinner more often. Get a full night’s rest and when you can, ease into your day.

The better we take care of ourselves, the better we tend to feel. Frankly, it’s a lot easier to cope with the post-travel blues when we prioritize our well-being more often than not. Apply what you’ve learned from your trip and learn new things just because. And remember, your next trip is just around the corner. So start planning as soon as you can.

Read More: Tips For a Device-Free, Fun-Filled Vacation

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