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, and after trip depression, post travel blues—whatever you may call it, it is real.
And sometimes, it can hit you hard.
The good news?
If you feel depressed after travelling, there are many ways you can address the problem.
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, it is likely that you will feel like a different person.
However, it is also likely that when you return home, everyone you have known is still the same.
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 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
In many cases, you are advised to just get over it if you have post-trip depression.
However, if you are experiencing the following signs, you need to take things seriously.
- Feeling like your life will not be as fulfilling or as 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 anymore
- 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
- 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 with dealing 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 of stay in Korea, chances are things are going to 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:
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 are grateful for the experiences you have had in your host country.
Keep in mind that not everyone has been lucky enough to visit another country and experience a new culture, learn a new language, and make amazing memories.
If your time away from your country has been enlightening, exciting, and transformative, be grateful.
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 anything else that can keep you busy.
You will not only distract yourself, 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 the 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, 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 would be to connect and engage with other people.
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, 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, it is likely that you are now a pro at discovering new places.
Rather than whining about not being in another country, spend your time checking 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.
To get your mind off your post-vacation blues, find volunteer opportunities where you are.
It has been proven time and again that helping others can make you feel good too.
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 further develop the skills you have learned while you were away.
For instance, if you have learned how to speak a little Swedish while you were 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 as though you are back to reality with a bang than throwing yourself back in your old routine right away.
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 also help you overcome your jet lag, unpack, catch up with some 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.
When you are at home, you tend to just fall into an old routine 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.
It would also be a great idea to treat yourself to a wonderful meal every month or so.
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 the lessons you have learned and how you can 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 a good practice.
Writing will give you the time 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 a good thing.
When you get home, take that as an opportunity to take good care of yourself properly again.
Join a gym, head to a spa, focus on eating healthy, and get some great sleep at night.
Taking proper care of yourself can surely go a long way towards helping you handle and manage your post-vacation blues with much ease.
If you have tried the suggestions above and still don’t feel any better, you might need to seek professional help.
Talking about your post-trip depression with a counselor or therapist can help you accurately pinpoint why you are down and what you can do to make things better.
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 in your community you can work with.
For sure, 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 while in a new and different country with a culture totally 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.