Let’s talk about post-travel blues. You’ve undoubtedly had the time of your life. Late nights in open-air clubs, countless pitchers of sangria, jumping off cliffs, picnicking in parks, seeing your favourite bands at Glastonbury or Tomorrowland, eating proper cheese, drinking beer, and sunbathing topless. But now, with your trip drawing to a close, it’s time to slip back into the mundane reality of work or study. Suddenly, the credit card needs paying off and you have to remember how to write a report and set an alarm. Ice cream is no longer an appropriate breakfast choice. Coffee is expensive. There’s no laundry service in your house. All the nagging, real-life pressures and stresses are likely to get you wallowing.
You’re missing your trip like nothing you’ve ever missed before. You’re weighing up the options of deferring your studies and chasing the sun again already. All you want to do is relive those memories and talk about your travels with any willing ear. Mournfully scrolling through your Instagram has become a sad, daily ritual. You’re longing for Thursday so you can post a ‘throwback’ photo and hashtag #takemeback. But we can’t take you back. Real life is just as important and can be just as enticing. So here are 10 steps to conquering those pesky post-travel blues:
1. Have an idea of what you’re going home to
Have you enrolled in courses at university or is your old job position waiting for you? If you need to find work, use the hostel computer to search for vacant roles. Nowadays, a lot of companies are willing to do Skype interviews, so don’t be put off if the application closes while you are still away. Make a plan of what you’re looking for in a notebook. Update your resume/CV. Think about your skills and qualities. Think about how your travels made you grow as a person. Who did you meet abroad who inspired you? Who do you want to be?
2. Try to be excited to be home
It’s not all bleak. Your friends missed you. Your family missed you. Your dog missed you, and you missed all of them. Your house is probably a comfortable place, and maybe you’re lucky enough to still get to eat your Mum’s cooking sometimes. Be grateful for your bed and your privacy, after being kept up by snorers in dorm rooms or the guy who also stumbled in after one too many beers every night. Be thankful you don’t have to sit upright on another overnight train.
3. Get back into a healthy routine
Travelling often isn’t synonymous with a healthy lifestyle or balanced diet. It’s no shock if your days consisted of two serves of pasta, a baguette and three ice creams. Join a gym, reacquaint yourself with those yoga or Body Pump classes, or try out a new sport. If your funds are low, go for walks around a local park, YouTube Pilates videos or download a free exercise guide online.
4. Stay in touch…
…with all the awesome new friends you met along the way! They’re probably feeling the post-travel burnout just as much as you. While your family and friends might start losing patience at your obsessive need to begin every sentence with “In Europe…” or “The clubs in Berlin…”, those travel buddies will be happy to reminisce as they are in exactly the same situation.
5. Keep yourself busy…
…with some travel-related tasks. Revisit your teenage scrap-booking hobby; get actual photos developed and stick them on your wall. Get some glossy travel brochures and make a vision board for your next adventure. Produce a video with all the footage you shot; pair it with the song that became the anthem of your trip. Learn to use Photoshop. Journal. Blog. Write music. Anything that keeps you connected to all that inspiration you picked up abroad.
6. Keep newfound passions alive
Perhaps by taking a Thai cooking course, or weekly lessons at a local language school. Try recreating a dish you fell in love with overseas. Learn how to dance salsa, like the show you saw in Spain, or continue trying to surf with a cheap used board off Gumtree.
7. Treat your home town like a tourist would
Reimagine it as best you can. Have you ever gone on TripAdvisor and seen what travellers are saying about it? Make an effort to visit new bars and cafes, keep yourself up to date with local exhibitions, gigs and events. Even stop by those gaffy tourist attractions and get a selfie as you would if it were the Eiffel Tower.
8. Meet up with foreigners visiting your city
Go to a language exchange, join Facebook groups, or find other local Meet-Up events. If someone looks lost, help them, as an overseas stranger did for you. Hang out in the backpacker area or think about getting a job at a hostel or as a walking tour guide. Be surrounded by that incredibly contagious energy travellers have, so that you don’t end up losing it yourself.
9. Allow yourself to feel melancholic
It’s natural to feel a little down after a period full mostly of ups. You’re likely to be more tired than normal, but that’s okay too. Sleep well, get fresh air, eat as best you can and limit your partying. Funnily enough, after all that holidaying, your body needs to recharge. If it feels impossible to settle back into normal life and the blues just seem persistent, then think about talking to a counsellor. They’d be more than happy to help you readjust.
10. Remember now that you’re back, you don’t have to stay at home forever
Be grateful for the opportunities you have in life. Take it as time to recharge and save some money. Working hard to fund future life or future travels is all part of the process. It wouldn’t be as gratifying any other way. Make a list of everything you have to look forward to in the future – all the faraway places you want to go, and things you want to achieve. The world will be waiting for you.
About the author
Emily Mulligan is an Australian Masters student who just got back from doing an internship in South America. Follow her occasionally neurotic, but mostly optimistic adventures around the world on Instagram @happily.travelling.