Effective Ways to Manage Post-Travel Depression

Do you feel down after a fun and exciting vacation? More often than not, that’s post-travel depression hitting you.

Post-vacation depression, post-travel depression, after-trip depression, post-travel blues—whatever you call it, it is real.

And sometimes, it can hit you hard.

The good news? 

If you feel depressed after traveling, you can address the problem in many ways.

Many people feel sad after a vacation and experience after-trip depression.

If anything, it happens and it’s normal. 

In this article, we will cover what post-vacation depression is and how you can manage it effectively.

What Post-Travel Depression Is

Post-travel depression or feeling sad or depressed after a vacation is that down feeling that hits you after the end of a trip.

At times, this feeling can develop a few days after you are due to return home.

Aside from feeling down and depressed, other common symptoms you can experience include loss of appetite, lethargy, feelings of nostalgia, and lack of motivation.

As a way to cope, others begin immediately researching and planning their next trip.

While seemingly harmless, post-vacation blues or after-vacation blues can last for a few weeks up to a few months and can seriously affect your mental health and well-being. 

Those who have taken long-year trips and have visited many countries in just a short period report feeling as though they are not fully back to normal even after a year from their trip.

One of the reasons many people feel a certain way after traveling is because the experience is transformative.

After you have explored the world, you will likely feel like a different person.

However, it is also likely that everyone you have known is still the same when you return home.

Understandably, it is a strange feeling slowly going back into your old life (as if nothing has happened) while knowing well deep inside that things are now very different for you.

Also, friends and loved ones will often only take an interest in your trip for a week or two.

After that, they most likely don’t want to hear about it anymore.

It can be tough dealing with so many amazing memories and nobody wants to hear about them anymore.

Reverse Culture Shock

Many liken post-travel depression to reverse culture shock

Reverse culture shock occurs when you have spent a long time away from home.

Since you have been away for so long, it can get tricky to adjust to your culture back again.

You can also feel a bit critical of the things in your home country.

Others in similar situations will often search for ways to return abroad.

Post-Vacation Depression Symptoms

You are often advised to get over it if you have post-trip depression.

However, you need to take things seriously if you are experiencing the following signs.

  • Feeling like your life will not be as fulfilling or exciting now that you are back home.
  • Feeling anxious, sad, or upset.
  • Constantly comparing your host culture and home and criticizing how things are done in your country.
  • Struggling with insomnia or sleeping all the time
  • Having difficulty concentrating on your responsibilities including school, job, or internship
  • Feeling like your family and friends don’t get you any more
  • Not wanting to leave your house because you don’t want to engage with others or anything related to your country and culture
  • Spending most of your time thinking about moving abroad rather than focusing on your present life
  • A drastic change in your weight or appetite

If you notice any or a combination of the symptoms mentioned above, don’t ignore them.

Always make your mental health a priority.

Getting yourself in a better mental place as soon as possible can help you become better equipped to deal with post-vacation sadness the next time it hits you.

How to Overcome Post-Travel Depression

When returning from your vacation in Sweden or after a few months in Korea, chances are things will feel different when you get back home. 

Part of effectively overcoming your post-vacation depression is accepting your new reality.

Below are some of the things you can do to make your transition easier:

Practice Gratitude

It can be difficult to feel grateful when you are depressed and missing your host country.

However, it would be a good start if you were grateful for your experiences in your host country.

Keep in mind that not everyone has been lucky enough to visit another country, experience a new culture, learn a new language, and make amazing memories.

Be grateful if your time away from your country has been enlightening, exciting, and transformative.

Be thankful also for the life skills you have learned from your time there and the amazing people you have met along the way.

Try Something New

Rather than spending all of your time checking if airfares in your host country have dropped, consider finding a new hobby. 

More often than not, your time away has helped make getting out of your comfort zone a lot easier to use that skill to be psyched about something in your country.

For instance, join a community sports league, find a new hobby, or do anything else that can keep you busy.

You will not only distract yourself, but you can also add new skills to your repertoire.

You might also discover some lifelong passions while at it.

Plan Another Trip

One of the best ways to get over post-travel depression is to plan another trip.

The trip does not have to be grand or to a different country.

A two-week break on a sandy beach or a weekend in another state can give you a break you need mentally and physically.

While not all your concerns and problems can be solved by hopping on a plane or a road trip, going somewhere new can give you that much-needed perspective.

If money is an issue, look into short-term volunteering trips.

They are not only affordable, but they are also great if you want to give back to your community.

Connect with Others

Another effective way to get over your post-travel blues is to connect and engage with others.

Remember that isolating yourself will only amplify your post-travel blues.

So get out there and try to engage with old friends and connect with new ones.

Go for a walk, check out new restaurants, and participate in new hobbies.

If most of your close and trusted friends have moved away or to another country, make new ones.

Join community events, meetups, and other cultural activities where you can find people who share your interest.

Explore Your Backyard

If you have spent a lot of time abroad taking trips to nearby cities and checking out new neighborhoods, likely, you are now a pro at discovering new places.

Rather than whining about not being in another country, check out new places at home.

Take a day trip and explore a new town, hike someplace new, and find a group you can join.

There is so much to discover in your home country so it would be best to start exploring now.

Give Back

To get your mind off your post-vacation blues, find volunteer opportunities where you are.

It has been proven repeatedly that helping others can make you feel good.

That said, consider getting involved in organizations in your local community that will help you regain that sense of connection with the city and its people.

You might just enjoy your activities here as much as abroad.

Practice What You Have Learned

Now that you are back in your home country, it would be a great idea to develop further the skills you learned while you were away.

For instance, if you have learned to speak a little Swedish while in Sweden, develop your skills further by reading Swedish news or watching a Swedish movie.

In large college towns and cities, you can easily find cultural centers or conversation circles that host events where you can showcase and practice the new language you have learned.

When Possible, Don’t Get Back to Studying or Working Immediately

At times, nothing makes you feel like you are returning to reality with a bang rather than immediately throwing yourself back into your old routine.

While this is not always possible, grab this opportunity if you are lucky enough to have it.

Ideally, you need to give yourself at least a few days to transition back into your old life when you get back.

If you don’t have the luxury to take some extra time off after your return, it would be a good idea to return on a Friday so you can have the weekend to adjust.

The extra days will help you overcome your jet lag, unpack, catch up with friends, and sort through your memories.

Make time to decompress so the depression won’t hit you as hard.

Maintain the Mindset of a Traveller

When you travel, you often develop a different mindset.

While away, it is likely that you are very open to signing up for fun experiences, trying new things, and eating new food.

You tend to fall into an old routine when you are at home and rarely try something new.

This lifestyle won’t be able to help your mood or help you feel better after a life-altering and transformative trip.

Keep the buzz of excitement alive by maintaining the mindset of a traveler.

Take surfing lessons, enroll in a cooking class, take a dance lesson, or take a dance class.

Treat yourself to a wonderful meal every month or so would also be a great idea.

Re-read Your Travel Diary or Blog

If you have kept a record of your life-changing moments in another country, spend some time reliving those amazing experiences by rereading your travel blog or diary.

You can also use the time to look back and remember your lessons and how to apply them in your life.

If you don’t want to spend time away from your trip, writing about your trip when you get back home would be good practice.

Writing will allow you to reminisce about the best parts of your journey and share your feelings and thoughts.

Also, if you purchased souvenirs from your trip or took amazing pictures, now is the best time to organize them.

Start Taking Care of Yourself

When you travel, taking proper care of yourself can sometimes get tricky.

Perhaps you just ate and ate and forgot about your exercise routine.

Or perhaps you spent every night drinking and dancing, depriving your body of a good night’s sleep.

For many people, travel is the time to overindulge, which is not good.

When you get home, take that as an opportunity to take good care of yourself properly.

Join a gym, head to a spa, focus on eating healthy, and get great sleep at night.

Taking proper care of yourself can surely go a long way toward helping you handle and manage your post-vacation blues with much ease.

If you have tried the suggestions above and still don’t feel better, you might need professional help.

Talking about your post-trip depression with a counselor or therapist can help you accurately pinpoint why you are down and how you can improve things.

If you are a student, consider finding mental health resources through your school’s student counseling center. 

If you are not a student, find therapists you can work with within your community.

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Final Thoughts

Your time away has helped you discover so many things about yourself. It has also likely helped mold you into a strong, resilient, and independent individual. Those skills will always be a part of you and you can use those skills to help you get through this challenging phase of your life. 

If you have learned how to thrive in a new country with a culture different from yours, adjusting back to your old life should not be as difficult. If you are finding it hard to adjust, don’t shy away from seeking professional help as these professionals can give you the help and guidance to tackle these challenges.