Traveling the world can be an exhilarating experience. You spend hours researching your destination and planning your itinerary, and seeing everything go according to plan fills you with joy. Even the unexpected schedule deviations can bring experiences you never knew you’d love so dearly. Of course, every amazing trip is temporary, and it’s eventually time to return home.
Despite having such a wonderful time, you may notice a slight melancholy building inside you as your trip comes to a close. You return home, and after a little while, that melancholy manifests as stress, anxiety, fatigue or sadness. You had such a fantastic trip, so why are you feeling sour afterward? This phenomenon is called post-travel depression.
Many travelers feel post-travel depression, so it’s helpful to understand what it feels like, why it happens and how to combat it before embarking on a trip. Let’s delve into the post-vacation blues and discuss a few ways to avoid those somber feelings.
In This Article
- Symptoms of Post-Travel Depression
- Why You Feel Sad Post-Travel
- How to Combat Post-Travel Blues
- Leave Your House Nice and Tidy
- Handle Work Responsibilities Before You Leave
- Savor Every Moment of Your Trip
- Reflect on Home During Vacation
- Maintain Healthy Habits While You’re Away
- Consider a Restful Vacation
- Make Plans for After Your Trip
- Leave Yourself a Transition Day
- Rearrange Your House
- Plan Another Trip
- Enjoy Fulfilling Travel With Windstar
Symptoms of Post-Travel Depression
The science around the post-travel blues is nebulous, but research subjects report feeling depressed after returning from travel in certain situations. Some research even concludes that post-travel depression symptoms worsen the more the subject enjoyed their trip. In many cases, the post-holiday blues appear as symptoms like:
- Feeling unfulfilled
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of disconnection with family
- Reluctance to leave the house
- Sudden appetite changes or weight gain
- Making frequent critical comparisons between home and your travel destination
- Overarching sadness or anxiety
Why You Feel Sad Post-Travel
Post-travel depression can occur for many reasons. For one, travelers may miss the excitement of new experiences and feel bored or unmotivated at home. Dopamine drives motivation, so the difference in dopamine levels during travel and upon returning home can leave you feeling sluggish.
Similarly, travelers may feel constrained by their daily routines at home and long for the freedom their trip provided. For some, returning to work and other responsibilities can cause stress and anxiety. It’s also possible to return home feeling worse than when you left if your travel experience is stressful or uncomfortable.
How to Combat Post-Travel Blues
Post-travel depression is a widespread experience, but you can take action to prevent it, minimize the effects or even work your way back to positivity. Here are some ways to mitigate the post-vacation blues before, during and after your trip.
1. Leave Your House Nice and Tidy
Cleaning your home is one of the best things you can do to ensure a smooth transition when you return from your trip. Coming home to a clean living space can help you retain the tranquility your vacation brought, while leaving yourself a mess to clean can add to the post-trip stress.
2. Handle Work Responsibilities Before You Leave
Handle all of your top priorities before you leave and let relevant people know you’ll be away for a given period. Setting up an automatic email response will ensure anyone reaching out to you receives a quick reply saying you’ll get back to them as soon as you can. Tying up all loose ends at work will allow you to fully embrace your trip while ensuring a smooth return to the office.
3. Savor Every Moment of Your Trip
Vacation and travel are about having fun experiencing new things, so embrace every moment. Research shows that post-travel health and well-being are higher in travelers that savor their trips.
4. Reflect on Home During Vacation
If dissatisfaction with home life is one of the causes and symptoms of the post-travel blues, taking some time to appreciate what you’re leaving behind can prevent or limit those feelings. Try writing down the things you miss during our trip as an exercise that builds appreciation for your home.
5. Maintain Healthy Habits While You’re Away
A healthy lifestyle can help you avoid depression and anxiety. If you exercise frequently and eat well at home, it’s a good idea to continue those habits during your trip. You may feel the temptation to let your diet slip while traveling, but be mindful — too much sugary food can affect your mental health. Studies show that a high glycemic index diet can increase the risk of depression.
6. Consider a Restful Vacation
Many travelers enjoy filling their schedules with activity after activity to stay busy the entire time. While a packed itinerary can be a lot of fun, it can also leave you feeling drained. One study shows that only restful vacations increase happiness afterward, while high-stress trips leave vacationers worse.
7. Make Plans for After Your Trip
One of the best parts of planning a trip is having something fun on the horizon. The same concept can apply after your trip. Before you depart, add something to your calendar that will add excitement to your return home. One great example would be to schedule lunch with a friend or family member, where you can catch up and tell them all about your travel experience.
8. Leave Yourself a Transition Day
An abrupt switch back to your regular life from a travel mindset can be jarring. You’ll have a smoother transition if you allow time for that transition to occur. Plan at least one day after your trip to get back into the swing of things. Use this time to unpack, run some laundry, buy groceries and relax for a little while.
9. Rearrange Your House
Part of the appeal of traveling is that you can add variety to your life, which makes everything feel more exciting. When you return home, the familiarity might get you down. Rearranging furniture can offer a new perspective that makes life feel fresher at home.
10. Plan Another Trip
If you’re feeling the effects of post-travel depression, researching and planning another trip can alleviate some of the symptoms. Life’s mundanity always feels more manageable when there’s an end in sight, so get to work plotting your next travel experience to reinvigorate the excitement you had leading up to your last trip.
Enjoy Fulfilling Travel With Windstar
Plenty of travelers feel the post-holiday blues, but you can take steps before, during and after your trip to feel relaxed when you come home.
If you love seeing the world and need a reason to break from your everyday routine, schedule a cruise with Windstar Cruises. We offer a rewarding travel experience that allows guests to find more enjoyment in their trips. Our cruise ships are more intimate than others, as we limit each voyage to 342 passengers or fewer. Enjoy personalized attention whether you’re relaxing aboard or partaking in a unique excursion. Browse our cruise specials or request a call with a Windstar travel planner to schedule your next adventure.