We’d planned for it, dreamt about it, gotten psyched about it … maybe for years.
We saw the landscapes and animals, and ticked experiences off our bucket list …
We met the locals, ate the food, toured the temples …
So How on Earth could we be sad?!
The post-travel blues are real. Known by any number of names (post holiday blues, post holiday depression, post-travel depression), many of us travel with great anticipation for our trip to be the best time ever do indeed have those dreams come true, but struggle with negative feelings when get home.
We work hard to make our dream trip a reality, and yet we can end up feeling bummed afterwards for reasons that can be hard to understand. Let’s take a look at what post-travel depression is, why this can happen, how we can prevent it, and what we can do if it ends up paying us a visit!
What Post-Travel Depression Is
Post-travel depression is a condition affecting travelers after returning home that includes:
- feelings of sadness and nostalgia
- not being able to communicate our experiences to the world around us (usually because they were so awesome and transformative!)
- loss of appetite, lethargy, and general struggles with motivation
- Other depression-related symptoms
Post-travel depression typically resolves with minimal intervention over the weeks or months after returning home, but can also persist in more severe cases.
The challenges of culture shock … and “reverse culture shock”! If we are going to the Global South (Asia, Africa, Latin America), we are going to see poverty, habitat destruction, be surrounded by unfamiliar lnguages and customs … all kinds of things we don’t see in our day-to-day at home. Some of these can be the highlights of our trip, while others can be challenging and even painful! This “culture shock” is both tough to deal with as we’re experiencing it, as well as the “reverse culture shock” we are confronted with when we’re back home and seeing the way of life we lead through new eyes. Home can seem disorienting after the profound experience of travel!
Why Post-Travel Depression Can Happen
Life went on “as usual” while we were gone. Travel is routinely named as one of the most life-changing experiences people can have, creating memories we will cherish for a lifetime. While we were out making these memories, our friends, family, colleagues and everyone else at home were going about their lives and won’t always be able to relate to what we saw and did while traveling. This can feel alienating at times and bum us out!
The longer and more amazing our trip was, the harder coming home can be! Our day-to-day life may seem mundane and unsatisfactory, and we may yearn for the excitement and wonder of travel as we experienced it.
Study ahead to know what you’re going to be seeing. Yes, your itinerary is going to profile many of destination highlights, yet when we travel, we encounter real life! Our horizons are going to broadened by the profoundly enriching experience of travel, but some of it is going to be hard. Acknowledge it, embrace it, and get ready to GROW!
How Post Travel Depression Can Be Prevented
Make a difference on your trip! See if there are ways to connect with a quality philanthropic organization that serves the environment and the local people. Donate of your time and/or finances while on your trip, and see if there is a way to keep doing so after you come home. We at Global Basecamps have awesome, impactful organizations we’ve partnered with that make a real difference in the communities our trips visit. We build positive impacts into our trips, and your making a difference doesn’t have to end when your trip does!
While not overdoing it, stay busy and make the most of the last days of your trip. Making sure you did all you could to get the most out of your days will leave less room for regrets!
Share about your trip with family and friends with creativity and empathy. Telling stories, sharing photos, and otherwise processing your time abroad out loud and with loved ones can help you gain understanding and appreciation for what you experienced. Remember: they weren’t there with you during what could well be the most transformative days of your life, so know that it may take time for them to get an idea of what the experience was like for you.
What We Can Do
Travel and live well in your own backyard. When we travel, we try new activities, meet new people, eat amazing food … and thus now have every reason to do this at home! Seek out the wonder and uniqueness of your everyday life, and know that there is plenty of adventure right in our home towns that we have yet to discover!
Post-travel depression may not seem severe enough to warrant seeing a therapist, but hey ... travel can be a prime catalyst for personal growth and transformation. The things that can come up as we get in closer touch with our inner selves can make seeing a therapist a good thing to explore.
The endeavor of travel brings with it all kind of experiences and feelings, the vast majority of them joyful and packed with growth. The best treatment for those post-travel blues is often … continuing to travel! Many people - upon getting home from their first big trip - are already thinking about their next, and we at Global Basecamps are here to help you plan the trip of your dreams.