Coming home is amazing. Finally being able to sleep in your own bed again. Seeing your friends and family again after a long time and telling them all about your amazing adventures. Hugging your dog and getting coffee at your favourite coffee place. Doing all these “old” things for the first time again feels amazing and special. But that’s the problem, the first time is only once.
After telling the same story for the 10th time, it doesn’t feel so special anymore. Waking up in your old place suddenly seems boring and that coffee doesn’t even taste that great anymore. Everything seems to be exactly the same as before you left. It’s like that trip didn’t mean anything. You feel stuck. Suddenly you’re overwhelmed with this feeling of sadness. But don’t expect too much sympathy. The general opinion will be: You just had the trip of a lifetime, be happy already! But you’re not. You feel stuck, sad and bored. And believe me, you’re not the only one feeling that way. There are a lot of other travellers dealing with the same issue, and there is a name for it: post-trip depression.
My latest post-trip depression story
After my trip to Norway, I felt an astonishing amount of sadness. The trip was amazing, but leaving was awful. I had felt such a strong connection to the people I met there, to the places I visited and to the country itself. When I was forced to leave, I felt like I left a part of myself there.
Once I got back, a feeling of nostalgia overwhelmed me every time someone asked me about my trip, or when I was reminded of it for some other reason. It made me want to crawl into bed and get lost in my memories.
Returning to my old routines was very hard for me. I didn’t want to cycle the same road to work everyday, got bored by seeing the same people every day and hated hearing my alarm clock ring every morning at 6 AM. I fell right back into feeling stuck, sad and bored.
Being alone in my kitchen, riding a bike and speaking Dutch again were all things that suddenly felt weird, even though I used to do them every day. I felt out of place and had a hard time adjusting to my old life.
Norway is an expensive country. I had spend more money than I normally did, and even though it was worth every penny, it did mean I had to start working again once I was back home. Budget travelling is something that comes natural to me and that I truly LOVE. However, being broke at home is not the same thing. And it frustrated me, a lot. I felt like I had to earn back all the money I had spent in Norway, because I had other travel plans that required money as well.
How to get over post-trip depression
1. Keep yourself busy
Don’t get bored! When you’re travelling, you’re usually a lot busier than you are at home. There are a million things you can do, and adventure is never far away. When you get home, things are a little different. This may make you feel like there is a giant hole in your life. Fill it up and stay busy. This way you won’t constantly compare the adventure of your trip to your boring-ass life back home.
2. Talk about other things than your trip
Sure, telling your friends and family about your trip is a lot of fun. But make sure you don’t only focus on your trip. After all, you’re home now. Don’t just talk about the past, but focus on the future. Something that helps me a lot, is scheduling in a certain amount of time to talk or think about my trip. Something like 30 minutes is usually enough. During this time I reflect on the amazing experiences I had, and also on how those experiences can help me grow into a better person right now. Outside of that time, I don’t allow myself to dwell on the past. Instead I try to make the present as enjoyable as possible.
3. Make new friends
On the road, new friends are never far away. You meet so many people every day and making new friends is easier than ever. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make new friends at home. I always find myself being more open and spontaneous after a big trip, and I make friends three times quicker than before.
4. Challenge yourself
On your trip, you’ve probably had to do a lot of difficult things. After all, travelling pushes you out of your comfort zone. I know how easy it is to crawl back into that comfort zone once you’re back home, but that will only make you feel stuck. Challenge yourself, because learning new things will reward you with feeling really badass. Take up a new hobby, learn a new skill or do something you’ve always been too afraid to do.
5. Set new goals
I always feel so fulfilled and proud when I accomplish any goal. And even just having something to work towards instantly makes me feel uplifted, enthusiastic and determent. Set goals, even if they’re small. And make sure they’re fun and achievable. Don’t force yourself to go to the gym 5 times a week, but set the bar low. Cook a new dish once a week, read 30 minutes a day or try to learn 10 Spanish words a day.
6. Stay grateful
Focus on all the amazing things that home has to offer. Focus on things that you could only dream of when you were travelling. Taking long walks with the family dog, having interesting, late-night campfire talks with your best friends and sleeping in your own bed after just having had a long, relaxing shower.
7. Change up your routines
Travel changes you. And a new and improved you, should also mean new and improved habits and routines. Don’t just fall back into your old routines, but be conscious about how you spend your time. Being home doesn’t mean you have to live the exact same life that you lived before your trip, even though that is what many people do. In fact, I think that that is one of the biggest triggers for post-trip depression. Doing exactly the same, and as a result feeling stuck. Change things up!
8. Talk to someone about the way you feel
Okay, maybe you shouldn’t complain to your friend that works 70 hours a week about why your life is too boring for you. But talk to someone you know won’t judge you for the way you feel. Whether that’s your best friend, mom or even your dog. (Yes I’m serious, pets are great listeners) Being honest about what you feel, instead of suppressing it, will make it easier to deal with it.
9. Keep in touch
We have this amazing thing called the internet now, use it! Goodbyes become a lot easier when you know you can still keep in touch with your faraway friends and/or family. Even a short e-mail can suddenly make the goodbye sadness a lot more bearable.
10. Plan your next trip!
If all else fails (and even if it succeeds), plan your next trip! Having something to look forward to makes everything easier. It also helps you realise that your life didn’t end just because that trip did. You can have a thousand more amazing and mind-blowing trips like the one you just had, or even better!
If you have any further questions or remarks, please comment them below! I’d love to hear your stories!