You’ve just spent an incredible 7 months backpacking Central and South America. You tried new food, stumbled over a new language and met people from all over the globe. Each day was a learning moment and each morning you woke up feeling like you’ve grown as a person.
But then, that day that 7 months ago seemed so far away has come. It’s the day your trip ends and you’re headed back home.
I know for me, that day is met with a wide range of emotions, ranging everywhere from complete excitement to crippling anxiety. You’re not alone with this. Most of us travelers have dealt with this one way or another, short term or long term. So maybe you’re reading this from the airport minutes before boarding the plane or maybe you’re a few weeks into life back home and you’re having trouble transitioning back into your old life.
Either way, here are 7 reasons it's completely normal to feel post-travel depression and how you can cope with it.
1. Back home nothing really changes
While you have been traveling, most likely you’ve had many memorable experiences that have changed you. But returning from your trip you will realize that back home, nothing has really changed. People have been living their “day to day” lives while you have been in a completely different environment.
To me, it’s always hard coming back home after spending some time abroad.
Your environment expects you to be the same person as before, but won’t realize that you have had so many experiences that may have changed your views and perspectives on life.
I try and focus on positive side of it.
While I’m still in my travel mode but know my trip is ending soon, I mentally prepare myself for the fact that once I come back home, I transition back to reality immediately. Peoples’ expectations, appointments and time pressures all come right back. It can feel like I haven’t been away at all.
Don’t let it get to you though! While it can feel like this, you don’t have to pretend that you haven’t been away. You can still keep on reliving your travel experiences and share them with your friends and family.
2. Reverse culture shock can strike
This usually happens when coming back to a place that you expect to feel like home, but doesn’t quite feel like your place anymore. After spending some time abroad, you get used to another culture and their way of life, which might be completely different from life in your home country.
I’ve spent quite some time in Asia and was really keen on the culture there. Upon coming back home though, I felt a bit uncomfortable with the Dutch culture and felt like I didn’t fit in anymore.
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At this point, I had just gotten back from an amazing 3 months of traveling and 3 months of working abroad as a nurse. When I was traveling in New Zealand, Australia and Thailand, I felt complete freedom and no stress at all. The only stress I knew was deciding where to go next.
In Thailand specifically, I really loved their way of life. If you want to live in Thailand, check out these two unique experiences. You could teach English or opt for the Thai Education visa to live and study there. They all invite each other places and try to help each other out. Their outside lives and warm culture is something I really miss while being back home. I crave the connection you can make with other people and sometimes start to feel lonely back home.
While working in Aruba I got used to the relaxing vibe. Local people don’t seem to get too stressed and even show up to work late! They seem to take things the way they come and meet up whenever they feel like it.
Being back home made me realize that I don’t miss the stress, the expectations, the have to’s and time commitments, and it'll all start to annoy me pretty quickly.
3. It feels difficult to connect with people
I’m not that kind of “9-5 girl”, wanting to settle down and start a family yet. Even though I’ve already turned 31 this year, I can’t relate to what the majority of people expect me to do and am still longing for a life abroad.
I know that traveling abroad is way different than working abroad and staying at one place for a longer period of time. But I do still feel that at this point, there is much more to life for me than simply settling down.
Sometimes, this makes me feel like an “outsider", feeling like I can't connect that much to people back home anymore.
That’s why I’m trying to connect with people with the same kind of interests as me, so I can share my passion for traveling and get inspired by the stories and experiences of others.
4. You start to feel "homesick" for your life abroad
This is a feeling I’ve been having for a long time, which seems to get worse every time I come back home.
At first, I feel happy being able to see my friends and family, eat my favorite food and drive around in my own car again. But after 1 or 2 weeks it starts to feel “ordinary” and I start wishing that I could go on another adventure.
Even though I am happy being home, I am still longing to be back to my adventures and feel like I want to challenge and develop myself more.
One of the greatest yet most rewarding challenges so far as been doing all of these travels solo. Take a peak at all the amazing things you can discover about yourself and the world as a solo female traveler.
5. You feel stagnant & bored
Coming home from any trip always makes me feel somewhat “empty."
Does this sound familiar to you? Don’t worry, you are not the only one!
It might help you to start planning your next trip right away. Don’t get stuck in the moment, there’s still so many destinations to be discovered.
After coming back home from a trip, I start planning my next one very soon after. I get inspired by Instagram and Girls Gone Working's Pinterest and see new destinations to be discovered. I always try to find the best flight tickets when planning a new trip. Usually, it’s best to book in advance, because when it is so last minute, the prices will increase a lot!
6. You haven't realized the beauty in your home country
While traveling can be very exciting, coming back can feel like your home country isn’t that exciting anymore. You wish you could continue to travel to new and exotic places every day. It’s up to you how to deal with this.
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If you do decide to get back to your ordinary life, it doesn’t have to mean that you can’t keep exploring.
Have you ever thought about exploring new places in your own country? This can give you that “being on holiday” feeling, too.
I always love visiting Dutch National Parks like The Veluwe or Loonse and Drunense Duinen or spend my weekends abroad in Belgium, Germany or Luxembourg. When I'm back home I try to explore as much as I can.
To me, exploring means happiness. Sometimes I will go together with my friends, but I will also take trips on my own looking for new places to be discovered. Even so close to my home, I am still able to find new places!
7. You feel like you can't talk about your travels
After your experiences abroad, it’s likely you learned a lot, whether it’s some good tips to share or amazing places to visit. Sharing your experiences can not only help others plan their vacation but can also take you mentally back to your own trip and bring back wonderful memories.
If you worked abroad or just lived in a place for at least 3 months, you're invited to write an article (or two!) for Girls Gone Working. Check out this page to get all the details about writing for us.
You could also help other travelers out that are coming to explore your country.
Consider signing up as a host on Couchsurfing. Not only can you offer other travelers a place to sleep, but you also could also be a host to take travelers around, or help them learn how to get around in your town.
Does experiencing all of this makes me want to stop traveling? No way! It makes me want to explore more and more. So what will be my next journey…?
Find my contact info here to reach out if you're feeling like I am.