Every passionate traveler knows the feeling, when you come home and you simply don’t feel it anymore. When you feel misunderstood and forced into a box, you feel like not fitting in. What I am talking about, is the phenomenon called the post-travel-depression.
What is post-travel-depression?
You miss exploring new places, you miss meeting new people. Especially people you bond with and it just clicked in the first moments of your come together. These people who seem to understand you without knowing you, as they have the same mindset and the same idea of life. You miss the adventures, the life close to nature. The easy life, where everything seems possible and time is nothing to think about. The life on the streets, where you simply just go with the flow.
Suddenly you step out of the airplane and all the responsibilities are pushing their weight on your shoulders again. You have to get back to work or university or whatever. You have to wear real shoes and socially viable clothes. You may keep on doing your thing for the a few more days, but at any time soon, the routine and its strings will have you back. You find yourself in the routine you avoided so much while backpacking, as it is not your routine. As soon as you settled in back home, your feet get itchy and you start questioning everything around you.
Why am I doing what I am doing? Why do the people around me act/think the way they do? Nobody understands how I feel and think! What am I supposed to do here? I am bored!
The result is: You want back!
“People don’t take trips; trips take people.” – John Steinbeck
Welcome to the club of travelers with post- travel-depression!
For some this is just a short down moment, after their travels. For others, it becomes a constant feeling, a constant urge to pack your stuff and leave again. The decision to leave and give everything up is not an easy one, but some of us will do it (read about it here), other will try to fight the feeling.
Let´s focus in this post, on how to fight it, at least for a short term, until you can conquer the roads and hostels again
Find people who understand you
There are other people like you around. Sitting at home and dreaming about traveling and leaving or people who have left and just came back. They will know this feeling of the reverse cultur shock. In times when all the others around you are annoyed of you whining around, they will understand you and be able to really give you advices on how to deal with it.
If you don’t have such people in your surroundings, try to stay in contact with the people you met while travelling. This really helps me a lot every time, because either they are in the same situation or at least they know what you are talking about, when you are stuck in your memories.
Find something you enjoy
May it be sports, engaging in a certain topic, partying or whatever hobby you may have. Just do it and enjoy yourself at home. For most of travelers it is not the job, but if it is the job, so let it be!
Enjoying yourself will show you that also at home not everything is dark and sad. It will help you to see the good sides of being where you are and making your time fly away without thinking about how bad you want to leave actually. Maybe you will even forget about it by then temporarly.
Do what you love on the roads also at home
Ask youself a questions: “What is it, which I love travelling so much?”
For me, for example, it is the freedom to do whatever I want to do. It is also the life close to nature and the adventures. I can include this up to a certain extant in my life at home. On the weekends I try to travel as much as possible: visiting friends in other places, being in the mountains, paddling on a river, I am all in. From time to time I take my backpack and just sleep under the sky on a lake or somewhere outside to gain the feeling of being out and free.
Try to include what you love on the roads into your daily life at home. This will help you fighting the feeling of being misplaced. It will also let you meet new people with the same interests.
Try to be the same person at home as while you’re traveling
Sometimes we simple miss the person we are, while we are traveling. The smiling, open-minded, always friendly person who is growing and shifting her/his mindset while experiencing the world.
Maybe you have found a new interest or something became super important to you, like saving the environment or following a spiritual paths. Back home you feel forced into your “old me” and you don’t follow these new interests and characteristics anymore.
You are not forced into an “old me” you just forget about the “new me”!
We travel to grow and expand our views and for sure we take this with us when we return. If you want to start saving the environment, do it! You want to start being a vegetarian/vegan? Go for it! If you found some spirituality while traveling, follow your path!
Just be you – the new you!
Don’t let coming back home take away from you, what you gained while being out in the world!
Review your pictures
By reviewing your travel shots all your memories will come up again. For a short moment it will set you back and you will re-feel and re-think what you felt and thought, when this picture was taken. Maybe it will give you the push to contact the person you connect with this moment or simply let you smile because you appreciate that you had the possibility to experience this moment.
Book the next trip, if you can’t book it right away, research it. I am always two trips ahead and in the end I am ending up somewhere else than planned. That doesn`t matter, just engaging myself with traveling makes me feel better.
If you have the feeling that you have to leave for a long-term trip, longer than your annual leaves, set up your finances and set up what you have to do to make this dream come true.
Saving money, quitting or taking a sabbatical, handling insurances and bureaucracy, a lot of stuff will come up in your head.
Once you have the dream, set up the plan, keep on pushing it and then let it become reality.
Traveling is a privilege, same is having a stable home which gives you the opportunity to travel. Let`s not take any of this for granted. I met a lot of locals in the countries I visited, asking me, how I can travel so much. Some of them can’t even afford to leave their hometown and visit a holy monument 50km away from them. I met people who simply don’t have the education, to get a job, which pays enough for them to save any money for traveling. (Okay there are always options to save money to travel but I hope you get my point)
I am one of the travelers who always has itchy feet and I am ready to give up what I have for it. But I also appreciate having amazing and supportive friends and family, a good education, which provides me with the opportunity of always getting a new good job and hobbies that I love doing on a regular bases. That’s why for me the decision on leaving everything behind or not, was quite a hard one (read here).
The feeling of post-travel-depression and just living from one trip to the other is a nasty one, but let’s not forget that we are all in a very good situation, as we can travel and there is a home for us as well. That is worth to not be forgotten.
In the end we all leave again anyway, because this is the lifestyle travelers need to follow:
I was born to travel and write verse – Theophile Gautier
Get lost, but don’t get hurt!