Post-travel depression hits everyone at some point, no matter how much you try to push it out of your mind. Despite being incredibly stressful, traveling is an amazing experience that expands your horizons.
Going back to your little corner of the world can be immensely disappointing by comparison.
It's been two weeks since I got back from New Zealand, and I already wish I was on the road again. I've experienced this before when coming back from Disney World and even places as local as the nearest state park.
It's an awful feeling that can reverse the positive effects of the trip.
Because of this, I try to plan for post-travel depression as much as possible. Here's what I've learned:
1. Scrapbook, scrapbook, scrapbook!
Shark wall in Wellington, NZ
Or any related creative image-compiling craft, physical or digital. I prefer physical copies of things because they feel more real and tangible, but I also make video scrapbooks with any clips I might have.
I've been making scrapbooks of trips since I was little, and looking back on them helps me remember the trip in a fun way. Scrapbooking itself can also be an adventure. It's messy, creative, and fun, like any good adventure is, and you don't have to spend thousands of dollars on a plane ticket!
2. Talk about the trip with anyone who will listen.
Looking for cockels in Tauranaga, NZ
Reliving the experience with others will help keep the trip fresh in your mind and allow you to adjust more gradually to coming home. Friends both IRL and online, family members, teachers, etc. They might be interested to hear your stories as well.
3. You can’t revisit the destination right now, but some experiences can be recreated.
I am definitely going to experiment with mac and cheese in the near future! (Rotorua, NZ)
After a camping trip, I will sometimes make foil packet dinners just because I crave them after spending so much time eating campfire food. I developed a taste for kiwi fruit in New Zealand and I hope to incorporate the fruit in more of my recipes.
4. Think about why the trip meant so much to you, and bring that into your daily life.
Te Puia, Rotorua, NZ
After New Zealand, I made it my mission to learn as much about indigenous culture as possible because it was something that really resonated with me on the trip. Seeing how the Maori are a part of New Zealand's present and future was inspiring and I want to know how I can support Native Americans.
After Disney World, I tried to rethink my idea of magic and tried to add magic to small moments, such as watching Netflix in a blanket fort or putting up Christmas lights in June just because they're pretty.
5. It’s okay to let yourself feel sad.
Especially on a dreary day. (Mount Victoria, Wellington, NZ)
You had an amazing trip, but all good things come to an end. When that happens, there can be a bit of a grieving process, even if you knew it wasn't going to last forever. Pushing that aside and telling yourself you're being pathetic will only cause you to feel miserable. Sometimes you need to have a good cry. Tears are weakness leaving the body, after all.
6. Recognize when it’s time for another adventure.
A ship at harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for. (Bay of Plenty, NZ)
Sometimes travel changes you so much that you no longer fit into the life you had before. In that case, maybe it's time to get a different job or move out or make some other major life change. Only you can know the answer to that, and I'm not advising you to rush into things. Meditate on it, talk to people you trust. The world is too big to keep your horizon small.