Post-travel depression is a thing, and many travel bloggers have written about it. If you feel depressed right now, especially during or after the great pandemic of 2020, just know you are not alone.
There are solutions and ways so avoid travel blues.
As a traveller myself, I understand post-holiday blues better than anyone and I can tell you that your post-travel depression is real. Travelling is beneficial to our mental health and it is known that it can help treat depression.
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I remember the first time I realised I have post-travel depression.
There I was, in my bed, past midnight, staring at my window. A pulsing white light was moving in the dark, clear night sky. It was a plane.
The first thought was that it was descending. And the second one was the image of me, inside that plane, the feeling of being there, now, at this late hour. Wondering where I was going.
If this isn’t a sign of post-travel depression, I don’t know what is.
Then I started thinking, if I have thoughts like this one, rather often, and when do they mostly occur.
By the time I was trying to formulate any logical thought in my mind, I had visualised the entire content of this post. Sounds crazy, but trust me, it’s not. I had to write everything down and share it with you, to let you know you are not the online one feeling the travel blues.
Here you have it, the 5 symptoms of post-travel depression.
How to spot and deal with post-travel depression
Probably there are more, but for now, I have five symptoms of post-travel depression that you need to look for and try to deal with if you want to feel better. Welcome to you all, because you are a special kind of people. Don’t worry, we are more than you thought.
1. You can’t sleep at night, although you are very tired
When did I first realise I have the post holiday blues?
It was some years ago (too many to count them). I have had a headache all day long, felt like it was my last day on Earth. I was looking forward to getting home, and just get to bet, to get rid of the pain. And when I finally switched off the light, surprise! Foreign lands were whispering to me.
Your mind can’t be stopped, and there’s no button to shut it down. You cannot get your brain to stop the endless cycle of stories of places, islands and trains you want to be on, and it just goes on and on. And it’s so tiring, you would think, this should get me to dreamland in no time.
Wrong. You might even get up to try clothes and check airplane tickets. Or Google maps.
How to deal with insomnia when you have depression after trips?
The best thing to do if you feel that the post-travel depression is taking over, which works wonders for me, is to plan another trip.
It doesn’t have to be a big trip and it doesn’t even have to be a trip abroad. If money is tight, you can plan a day trip to a city nearby. Remember that travelling is about discovery and you don’t need to be 10000 km away from home to discover new parts of a city or go on a day trip.
2. Whatever money you have, you always think about saving it for travel
That’s my, all the time!
If you ever experienced one of the following thoughts, then you have have post-travel depression.
Are there sales?! I don’t care! I have enough clothes. I look good in them, even if they are from the 2015 summer collection. I feel good, thinking about the things I do and experience while travelling. That puts a big smile on my face—the best thing to wear, anytime. The rest of my outfit looks great, no matter what it is. Because I always have my smile with me.
Food. I can cook at home. I eat vegan, so it’s hard for me to eat out anyway. Why bother?!
Going out. Well, going out is about having a good time. Spending money (or a lot of money) is a choice, not a requirement. If I want coffee, I can always make my own, at home.
How to deal with this obsession over money when feeling the travel blues?
Money is the sad reality that we see everyday, and a lot of times, money is what makes the world go round.
But the good news is that travelling is not about spending money, it is about exploring new life perspectives. The thing that I discovered is that I need to give something back to my community. Think about sharing a skill you’ve learnt and practising gratitude.
I used to work as a volunteer in Turkey and then in Austria, and those experiences help me develop social skills, and I learnt to work with children. That’s why I worked with children at home after I got back from my volunteer projects.
Think about what skill you can share with your community, perhaps you can volunteer a few hours per month somewhere close to your home or you can start a new language course, to keep learning those languages from the countries you use to travel in.
3. You cut any connection with people who never travel
Oh, this is such an extreme post-travel depression sign. I’ve been there. and I totally understand.
Those people are so boring! I just run away. I’m sure some of you (the people who don’t travel) are just great, but just to be sure, I’m not gonna hang around too long to find out. Nothing personal, just have to take care of myself. (And my sanity)
Also, people who have travelled too much and cannot stop bragging are not the best company. Only makes the depression worse, if you haven’t been travelling as much as they have.
People are meant to be social and live amongst others. We are not meant to live in solitude. And that’s not recommended, especially when you want to get over depression.
If your old friends don’t seem to get you, then why not look for new people who share your interests. Look for cultural activities and meetups in your neighbourhood and try to develop new friendships. Use those social skills you’d acquired during your travels to make friends while you’re at home.
4. You are fascinated by train stations and airports
It’s the same feeling a kid gets inside a candy shop.
I don’t live too far from the main train station. Each time I pass by, I stared at it and felt the urge to walk inside. It’s not the prettiest train station, and it stinks. But for me, it’s a place full of travel opportunities.
Just imagine you can buy a train ticket and jump on a train, and within a few hours or a day, to be in a different country.
I miss so bad those long train rides.
How to deal with post-travel depression when you are daydreaming about travelling all the time?
This isn’t a bad feeling at all. And it’s pretty normal to fantasize about new trips when you feel the post holiday blues.
You need something to get you out of your comfort zone, and make you feel alive again.
As always, my favourite things to help my personal growth and push me out of my confort zone, which I recommend you should also try, are:
- volunteering at a local ONG
- plan for a new trip
- go on longer walks around your neighborhood and discover new houses and parts of it
- get a new hobby (try photography, painting, kickboxing or anything that you’ve been wanting to try for a long time)
5. You are terrified to do anything that doesn’t involve travelling
The thought of time passing and me, not using it to travel, makes no sense. It’s such a scary thought, and I try to push it away as fast as possible, because this one gets me really depressed and it can last for days to snap out of it.
I’ve been there and I can tell you that worrying about wasting time thinking about travelling when you’re not able to, is not in anyone’s benefit.
How to deal with travel blues when you’re not travelling?
I used to do this all the time, and I’m sure I was not the only one.
The thing is that there is no perfect moment, in whatever we do, but we are able to make them perfect. Some people have panic attacks when they’re about to travel, while others, such as yourself, have panic attacks and depression episodes when you’re not travelling.
We, humans, are complex beings, but we must always remember that we have the power to make and change our reality. It all starts with the right mindset. It’s the same thing with the weight loss mindset (which I also struggled with, some years ago when I was working as a volunteer).
Terrible place to be it, but making a plan to visit something, it’s just the right antidote.
Don’t forget to practice gratitude, for all the wonderful experiences you already had during your travels. Share those stories with your friends, or you can even start a travel blog. Write about your most incredible stories, the many culture shocks you’ve experienced and inspire others to start travelling as well.
You’d be surprised to learn that your insights can change someone else’s life.
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