Let’s face it: the experience of traveling is invigorating, beautiful, intense and frustrating at times. Prior to a trip – no matter the length – people experience anticipation and excitement as they wait for the unknown to unfold. While the thrill is unmatched, there are some downsides once the adventure is over. Traveling can evoke some seriously complicated nostalgia, leaving one feeling incredibly torn between their life at home and the life they just experienced on the road.
So what are the post-travel blues? Let me explain. There’s nothing quite like coming home from an amazing trip to the reality of paying bills, waking up for work and the general humdrum of normalcy. Some may feel their reality pales in comparison to what they just experienced. Others may feel like they aren’t fulfilled by their day-to-day lives but have to make ends meet. Many people just may miss the absolute freedom and relaxation they felt while they were able to unplug and recharge. Whatever the reason may be, the post-travel blues are mysterious yet a very real emotion that almost every traveler will face at some point.
Despite the fact that feeling the blues is pretty much inevitable, they don’t have to stay around for longer than necessary. Here are some solutions to help you kick those negative emotions to the curb:
1. Sort through your emotions
I’m a firm believer in allowing oneself to feel emotions when necessary. I think ignoring emotions causes bigger problems down the line and we should honor our complicated minds. With that said, if you’re feeling sad about a trip – it’s okay! Look through photographs, write about how you’re feeling, meditate on it and chalk it up to a fantastic life experience that has shaped you into a better version of yourself.
2. Treat your town as a new land
This is so cliche, but it’s so true. Use this longing for new or familiar lands as an opportunity to see things in your back yard that you might have never seen or explored. I lived in Chicago for seven years, and not once did I go up to the top of the Willis Tower! Now that I’ve lived in Seoul for two years, it makes me want to see those spots that I once scoffed at, claiming them to be “too touristy.” There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a local tourist! I’m one every day in Korea. Which leads me to…
3. Go out of your way to make your day adventurous
A day can be as mundane or exciting as you’d like it to be. The other day, I was walking in my neighborhood after purchasing a cake for my boyfriend’s surprise party and decided to take a detour on my way home. One thing I love about Sinsa-dong is all the surprises around each corner; I discovered a variety of new restaurants, shops and quirks that I would have otherwise never knew existed! Sure, my days can blend into one another from time to time. I wake up, teach kindergarten and tutor each day. It can get daunting from time to time, but this little moment sort of made my week and instilled a feeling of excitement I was longing for.
4. Satisfy your wanderlust
If you can afford it, start researching for your next trip. However, not everyone is that lucky. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the blues from within the confines of a cubicle, let your mind take a daydream-cation by living vicariously through others via Pinterest, Instagram or reading travel blogs. I did this often at my 9-5 in America, which is also where I gained my travel inspiration, which is what helped propel me to move to Korea in the first place.
5. Travel back in time through your senses
Does the smell of incense or sounds of Khayal music remind you of your time in an Indian ashram? Do you long for the taste of that delicious Tom Kha Gai you ate every day you spent in Pai? Do K-drama binge sessions bring you back to that study abroad semester in Korea? Invigorate your senses and illuminate your memories by bringing that familiarity home. If it’s culinary delights you’re after, search your local markets’ foreign section for the proper ingredients. If it’s musical therapy you’re seeking, find a playlist on Spotify or YouTube. If you want to escape into a television show or movie, check out Netflix or other streaming websites. As long as you have internet access, the world is essentially at your fingertips.
6. Surround yourself with the people you love
One of the worst things about post-travel depression is potentially feeling isolated. This is particularly true if you’ve been abroad for an extended period of time. You may find that your friends or loved ones have not changed a bit and feel as though you’ve made strides. It might be hard to connect with your former self and you may feel angry that nobody is able to relate to you, or worse, desire to hear about your experiences. However, understand that everyone is on a different path. Have patience with your loved ones and use this time to reconnect with the time lost. Just make sure you don’t start every sentence with, “When I was in _______,” because people tend to find that grating.
You’re an incredible human being who just had the experience of a lifetime! Work through the sadness and turn it into a feeling of gratitude for your world being cracked open with light just a little bit more than it was before. Smile back at the memories and keep your head up and look toward the future!
Have you ever experienced post-travel blues? Share your story with me and how you were able to cope!