How To Cope With the Post Travel Blues

woman sitting on couch, depressed or sad
After a trip to remember, coming home can be hard. Thankfully, there are some tried and true ways to lighten your emotional load and hold onto the most uplifting parts.

Trips can be mood-elevating and downright life-changing. In turn, returning to our day-to-day lives can be a real drag. Traveling has been proven to be vital for our overall health. Among its many benefits, it can reignite our sense of self, allowing us the space to fully embrace the present moment. That in itself can be hard to leave behind.

After a fantastic vacay, going home to our usual routine and ongoing responsibilities can feel like we’re leaving our refreshed state behind, but it doesn’t have to.

Once a trip ends, we often launch back into our typical duties too quickly and wind up with the post-travel blues. With this in mind, taking a moment for yourself is imperative. And we’re here to unpack helpful ways to do just that.

Here’s how to cope with the post-trip blues and bring the best parts of your trip home.

Unpacking Post-Travel Depression

Feeling down after an uplifting trip? You could be suffering from travelers’ depression. While this looks a little different for everyone, the first step to coping is unpacking what that means.

Studies continue to show how vacations are good for us, and sometimes, much needed. Per Healthline, “one long-term study found that workplace policies allowing ten days of paid vacation leave were associated with a 29 percent drop in depression risk.”

For most people, mental health professionals say that the good vibes felt on vacation usually dwindle within a few days of returning to the ole familiar. You’ll probably notice the post-travel blues kicking in the hardest during this time.

Generally speaking, post-travel depression is feeling down when a trip ends. But sometimes, it starts a day or two before heading home. Much like other forms of depression, the symptoms of the post-travel blues include lethargy, loss of appetite, less motivation, and a heavy yearning to get back out in the world stat. But the symptoms will dissipate on their own.

With that said, if you’re feeling low and suspect it might be severe or lasting, talk with your doctor or reach out to a mental health professional and share what’s going on.

Melancholic woman looks out the window of tram.

With that said, don’t expect your symptoms to fade overnight. Post-travel depression can potentially last for weeks or potentially months. Many travelers report that feeling “back to normal” took way longer than expected after returning home, especially among those who were away for a lengthier period of time. Understanding how and why it happens can help you start feeling better sooner, regardless of trip length.

Embracing The Trip-Induced Shifts Within You

As TripSavvy notes, “travel is transformative.” Exploring the world and connecting to one’s surroundings can make us feel reinvigorated, refreshed, and like our most alive, most whole selves. We also learn about ourselves in new situations. Maintaining this awakened state of being is not always easy when returning to our world, where everything has stayed the same.

After a trip, it helps to stay cognizant of how you’ve grown and how you’re feeling. You’re likely to return with a more refreshed state of mind than when you left. In this new headspace, throwing yourself back into your old routine might be what you’re used to, but mental health experts say it’s rarely a good idea. With productivity and presentness in mind, now is an excellent time to practice mindfulness.

The post-travel blues can seriously impact our well-being, so prioritize taking care of yourself before, during, and after travels. Now let’s talk about tried and true tips to minimize feeling low and maintain the positive effects of your travels.

During The Last Days of Your Trip, Stay Busy

young man traveling backpacker in Khaosan Road outdoor market in Bangkok, Thailand

Staying busy and mentally stimulated as your trip ends can elevate your mood. For one thing, you’ll have less time to dwell on the fact that you’re leaving soon. And time is of the essence. Instead of settling into your post-travel sadness in advance, make the most of what time you have left. That’s why you’re on vacation, after all.

Prioritize finding activities that take your mind off the looming end and allow you to live in the moment. No matter what you do, ending your trip on a positive note will make your departure feel lighter.

Check out a local museum, go snorkeling with a highly-rated guide, or just take a scenic, leisurely stroll with no destination in mind. If you’ve been going nonstop the entire trip, consider slowing down in a meaningful way.

When we get stuck in our heads about leaving, it helps to focus on what’s right in front of us. Your trip is not over yet, so why cut your experience short by mentally, emotionally, or physically checking out?

When You Make it Home, Try to Unwind

man relaxing and listening to head phones on couch

As mentioned, immediately throwing yourself into your usual routine can be a good mood-killer. Although, I realize that sometimes, it’s the only option. If you’re among the lucky ones who return from a trip with time on their hands, use it wisely. And by that, I mean relax. If nothing else, prioritize getting a solid night’s sleep for the sake of your body clock.

Give yourself a few days to transition back into everyday life if possible. This will help you naturally ease into your unavoidably abrupt return. Flipping a switch and running on autopilot isn’t healthy. Try to set up your trip so that when you’re home again, you’re not returning to the crushing weight of a mounting to-do list. Instead, pencil in a full day, an evening, or even just a few hours to fully decompress. Afterward, you can return to your regularly scheduled programming from a more rested place, rather than a rushed one.

By giving yourself a couple of extra days of calm, you can also recuperate from jetlag, unpack, catch up, settle in, and reflect on your trip with gratitude. In other words, prioritize decompressing. You’ll feel a lot better than if you don’t.

Spend Time With Your Friends  

three female friends laughing

There’s nothing like sharing fun travel anecdotes with friends. If you’ve just returned, now’s an ideal time to relive your vacation. Reach out to your pals while your trip is still fresh and they’re still eager to hear all about it. Experts say talking about your recent trip (and your feelings about returning) can help alleviate some of the post-travel sadness.

You’ll undoubtedly have tons to catch up on. So get those photos out! Now’s the time to swap stories about what’s happened since you’ve seen each other last. While your head and heart may still be on vacation, connect to the world and the people around you again. Otherwise, you risk isolating and wistfully flipping through photos of where you no longer are. This is no time to dwell, so phone a friend.

Also, post pictures on social media when you start feeling nostalgic. Allow those happy memories to wash over you and share your once-in-a-lifetime experiences with those who will appreciate them. Connecting is always good for all of us, especially when we’re feeling a little down.

Maintain a Traveler’s Mindset

Many who travel say they develop a different mindset while globe trotting. I want to think this has something to do with a travel-induced grounding within ourselves in unfamiliar situations. On the road or in another country, we have no choice but to embrace new things and open ourselves up to unfamiliar experiences. This is what I mean by a “traveler’s mindset.”

To some extent, one of the goals of traveling is to leave our day-to-day behind. Embracing the unknown allows us to engage more viscerally with the world around us, other people, and ourselves. That’s often why people say they do things on vacation they’d never do back home. Worlds away from daily life, we aren’t as inhibited by our routines. Not to mention, we can escape stagnating ruts that often lead us to need a vacation in the first place.

One of the most rewarding parts of any trip is developing a traveler’s mindset, no matter where you go. But those good feelings aren’t bound to the place you went. Openness to possibilities and even “out of character” actions live within you. In turn, you can tap into your travelers’ mindset when you’re home too.

woman meditating next to closed laptop and phone turned off

Back home, keep trying new things. Make an active effort to step outside of your comfort zone. Learn a new language just because. Allow yourself to keep growing within your routine. Sometimes, the post-travel blues occur because we give ourselves potent stimuli on vacation and promptly replace them with the things that burn us out.

Once you return, remember what worked for you when you had the momentary freedom to do whatever you wanted. This has done wonders for me. For instance, on a trip to Antigua, I eased into every day. I avoided my phone and left my computer back in the states. Getting “off the grid” felt like a luxury. Soon enough, my energy level went from a 2 to a 10. And I wasn’t even drinking coffee! I went to bed earlier than I have since grade school, which helped.

Having a week with no real responsibilities reminded me of how I felt during summers growing up. But not constantly meeting others’ expectations felt foreign and almost wrong. Ultimately, I realized that I’d gotten so bogged down by my day-to-day that I’d forgotten how to just be. Worlds away from my work email and wholly freed up, I was reminded how crucial decompressing is for my health, and I know I’m not alone in that.

Traveling uniquely reminds us of what makes us happy, what it takes to relax deeply, and where simple pleasures might be missing in our lives. To maintain a traveler’s mindset, note what worked for you on vacation. Re-incorporate some of those modes of operating rather than dismissing them as “vacation-only” tendencies. By doing so, you’ll likely find yourself living to the fullest more often, and you’ll be less bummed.

Explore Your Surroundings 

This tip connects to maintaining a traveler’s mindset: get out and about. Your trip being over doesn’t mean your desire to explore evaporates. No matter where you live, there’s something to explore in your city or state. You have to seek it out.

Traveling can help us develop a newfound sense of adventure. When we harness that appreciation for our surroundings, it’s easier to breathe new life into our own little world. So when you return, explore your surroundings more often, especially if you don’t already.

woman walking in grass and holding  in hand herb  wildflowers  in summer mountains, travel concept, peaceful relaxing moment.

Try to see your city through a well-informed tourist’s eyes. Hop on a bus or finally try that restaurant you’ve been eyeing but putting off. If you want to keep the post-travel blues at bay, maintaining your sense of adventure can help. Consider taking day trips. Where’s the nearest national park or a park in general? Find it. Or just go on a nature walk.

Visit the places your city is known for and the places you’ve never bothered going. It’s easy to take for granted what we can access at all times. I have friends who live by the beach because they love the beach, but they never go because it’s right there.

No matter how long we’ve lived somewhere, there are always new things to learn about our surroundings and ourselves if we’re looking for them. So after your trip, explore the world around you, starting where you’re at.


woman reading her journal on a couch

Keeping a travel journal or blog can be fun, inspiring, and soothing. There are always moments we never want to forget, but sometimes, we forget to document them while living in the moment. So write them down later.

Keep a travel journal. When the post-travel blues creep in, reflect on your most treasured times by rereading your entries. Take yourself back to your trip in a happy way and give your mind a break from feeling blue.

You can also start a blog at any point. Having a virtual space to share tips, reminisce, and unpack your experience can help you adjust. Not to mention, you’ve created a living (and potentially therapeutic) scrapbook. Think of your travel journal as a means to release the trip from your being while integrating it into your daily life. Rather than leaving everything behind, you’ll be capturing the best parts.

Spend Some Time With Your Souvenirs

various tourism souvenirs on a table

This might seem like a tiny tip, but it can make you feel better when dealing with the post-travel blues. Assuming you brought back a souvenir or two, spend time sorting through them, deciding who gets what, and finding the perfect places for the unique trinkets. Commemorating your trip allows it to live on.

One of the most essential parts of any trip is easily the memories. So take your time arranging those good vibes and happy times in your home.

Start Planning Your Next Big Trip  

couple planning their travels together with a world map

A trip’s end can really weigh us down. As the travel rush dissipates, we often wind up feeling flat. That’s one reason the hope of a future trip can be so uplifting.

Once you’ve relaxed a little, be proactive. By that, I mean start planning your next adventure stat. Having something to look forward to always helps keep our minds off the past. Plus, trips can awaken the wanderer in each of us. You can use your newfound momentum to your advantage and set your sights on traveling more.

But don’t book a flight just yet. Sit down and make a must-visit list. Where are the top three to five places you want to see most? Decide which one you want to visit next and how you can realistically prepare for it today.

Lend a Helping Hand to Other Travelers 

woman helping man figure out where he is going in a city

One of the great things about traveling is meeting cool people and the kindness of strangers. From time to time, we all rely on locals or fellow travelers for a bit of guidance. Whether we’re lost and need directions or we need a solid restaurant recommendation, help is always close. So when you come home, take your opportunity to pay that travel-kindness forward.

If you see someone looking lost, consider pointing them in the right direction. Smile and say hello more often. Be the kind of stranger you hope to encounter when you’re globe-trotting. While you should always be mindful when it comes to strangers, helping others is a good thing to do, and it feels good. Not to mention, problem-solving for tourists is an easy way to get out of our heads when we need it the most.

Take Care of Yourself 

father doing yoga with a baby on his back

Traveling or not, taking care of ourselves isn’t always easy. But it’s important. Maybe when you travel, you take better care of yourself than usual, revving up the exercise and getting proper rest for once. Or, maybe you go to the other extreme. Perhaps you over-indulge, eating world-famous heavy foods, staying up until sunrise, and lounging by the pool until you resemble a lobster. And that’s okay, too (just don’t forget the sunscreen)!

There’s no wrong way to vacay. No matter your travel style, returning home should come with a reset. In other words, post-travel time should be spent taking care of yourself. Your return is a chance to adopt healthier habits, no matter what you did before. For instance, start stretching every day or use that gym membership you’re paying for. If you’ve been on a takeout kick, cook more often. When you can, get a full night’s sleep and ease into your day. And remember to just be.

The better we learn to take care of ourselves, the more readily we can deal with our fluctuating moods as they come. Upon your return, it’ll be easier to cope with the post-travel blues if your well-being is being prioritized. And remember, your next amazing trip is just around the corner. So don’t hesitate to start planning.

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