Two girlfriends and I hit up six cities in five countries. We were ambitious and succeeded in everything we had set out to do, from Malmo, Stockholm, London, Paris, Berlin, and finally, Copenhagen. I fell in love with all the people, the different cultures, the beautiful architecture and the delicious vegan food we discovered! As the adventures came to an end, the first nuance I noticed was being able to understand every conversation around me. This was when it started to hit me. We were on US soil, and it was time to get back to the same routine I left behind four weeks ago. I didn’t have to adapt to a new language, currency, food, or mode of public transportation. This was it–I was home. It was as if nothing had changed, except me.
Before I left, everyone told me I was going to have so much fun! Yes, I had the time of my life, but I am here to inform you what may happen after all the traveling is said and done. Since I returning, I’ve been going through a season of post-travel depression. Post-travel depression is a phase people may go through after a long vacation. It’s a feeling of nostalgia mixed with yearning for adventure. This can be difficult if you are returning to a lifestyle that is routinely planned and often predictable. If you are anything like me, you are trying to find a way to move abroad before you even get back home. Before you take off on your amazing adventure, below are three must-reads to help shake those post-travel blues away before they arise.
1. Find your creative side to express yourself. For people with post-travel depression, it becomes a challenge to find beauty in familiarity. My perception is vastly different. Thanks to all the people I met abroad, conversation topics extended from politics (I was in London when Brexit happened) to personal life stories. Hearing everyone’s background and current life situations inspired me to reflect on what I am currently doing in my life. I am starting to see this challenge as a great push to find out what I really want for myself. Journaling has helped me the most as it allows me to express my thoughts, desires, and dreams. My advice here is to plan a creative outlet you enjoy before returning home. This will help with the transition in moods and help you understand your new outlook and where you want to go in life!
2. Find clarity and inspiration. Traveling brings about great moments of clarity and peace. I came back trying to recreate that peace by over-analyzing my entire future. This, of course, is too much to handle when coming from a trip that allowed me to sit still for a minute. My advice is to use that time abroad to figure out what brings you clarity no matter where you are. For me, it is running. I didn’t realize my clarity outlet until two weeks after being back home. For some people, many find peace in meditation. Inspiration has been tough to find, but I found an inspiring podcast that has made a significant impact. I also oddly find inspiration in small adventures where I live. Eating at the vegan restaurant I have always wanted to try or hiking that trail has slowly given me some inspiration to look forward to significant experiences.
3. Find your connection. At least until your next adventure, your travels are going to be the greatest places and views you are ever going to see. Even the partying scene is totally different! Unless you live in the Swiss Alps, or Berlin, the views and parties are not going to be the same. You may be a little salty for this as you want to keep the momentum to rekindle the connection. Nostalgia is going to hit hard here. I am finding comfort in food to reconnect with the different cultures I experienced. I ate a lot of Mediterranean, Indian, and Thai dishes abroad. By incorporating these dishes weekly, I remember and connect with my experience until I can visit again.
Remember your experience is yours to cherish for a lifetime. Keep in mind it will take time to ease out of your post-travel-depression, and the key to all three is you need to find something in the present to help you look forward to the future. One last tip a friend recently told me is to have something on the calendar to look forward to. Even if it’s a different activity, this can be an immediate transition to shake things up as soon as you get back.
Wishing you safe travels and a happy return!
Do you have any effective strategies for coping with post-travel depression?
Also by Katherine: What I Eat in a Day: Meal Plan of a Vegan Nutrition
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Photo: Derk Sebregts via Unsplash