That can be a real downer, and I don’t mean that as a slight on home at all; for all of us lucky enough to have somewhere to happily call home, it will always be a special & important place we cherish – but after travelling, be it just for a few days, a few weeks, or an epic backpacking adventure, returning to ‘normality’ can, for many, be a lot tougher than expected. It’s the feeling of Sunday night, after a great weekend, and you’ve got school in the morning and an algebra test to look forward to, like Kanye feels every few minutes.
Luckily, you don’t have an algebra test tomorrow, probably, and here’s 10 easy ways to make sure those post-travel blues don’t get you down...
Stay connected with those you connected with
Depending on how long we travel for at a time, and how much we choose to engage with fellow travellers, we tend to meet a lot of different people with different personalities & characters. Some are easily forgotten, some are pleasant dorm mates & fellow hostellers, and sometimes some are incredible people with whom we click and connect, and share fantastic memories. Often travel is as much, if not more, about the people we meet as where we meet them and making sure to keep in touch with those few new friends after your travels can be an ever-lasting reward, and keeps the joy of travel a huge part of your everyday norm.
Look forward to your next trip
Ok, so you no doubt expected this to feature, but predictable as it may be it’s nevertheless valid. In Ireland, where I’m from, we have an adage in our native language, Gaelic, “Is maith an t-anlann an t-ocras” which translates as “hunger is the best sauce”. This can easily apply to travel – accept & embrace the time you can’t travel to look forward to your next trip, be hungry for travel and when you eventually satisfy your craving, it will be all the sweeter.
Take pleasure in planning your next trip, even if you don’t know when it will be. Start thinking of new ways to save towards or fund your next adventure, occupy your spare time with researching places you’d like to visit, things you’d like to do etc. Being proactive towards making your next trip happen will absolutely outweigh the melancholy of missing travelling.
Be ready to venture – keep an eye out for cheap flights, short date-range deals and flight pricing errors, like the Secret Flying Facebook page for example, and regularly check Hostelculture.com for hostel inspiration and to book your hostels cheaper than on other sites thanks to 5% and 10% discounts as standard. Even just the thrill in knowing you might find a surprise option to travel somewhere next weekend or on your next days off will certainly help keep the blues away.
Travel at home
Have you ever looked at your home town, city, or even country like a traveller might? If not, you really should. Actively exploring your locality through the eyes of a curious visitor can often turn up some unexpected treats & surprises. For example, doing a local free tour might give areas & buildings you take for granted a whole new life when you learn of their intriguing history, or taking a trip out to a lesser-visited suburb in the hunt for lunch might just unearth your new favourite eatery. The little joys of travel might be right under your nose at home too.
A great way to curb what can otherwise be mundane time between trips is to travel vicariously. This means to enjoy aspects of travel through other people’s current travel experiences, and there are many ways to do this;
I've already mentioned joining a free tour to explore closer to home, but this is also a great way to meet travellers visiting your city, connect with them and be energised by their mutual enthusiasm for travel.
You can even consider creating & offering free tours or budget tours in your locality for travellers. This way you can regularly meet fellow travellers, share your local knowledge & passion, and make some decent money too – ideal for funding regular trips. This is actually very easy to do too, Freetour.com is a fantastic website where you can easily find & book your spot-on quality free tours around the world, but it also welcomes local independent guides who can easily create tours for people to book. This could be you!
You could also consider working in a hostel. If you love travelling and meeting new people, it really is a perfect job. The best job I’ve ever had was at the hostel desk, I always felt the buzz of travelling, was constantly inspired by guests to travel, and had employers who, by virtue of being hostel people, understood my need to take off every few weeks to different places near & far. Post-travel blues were always short-lived.
And, if you feel capable to party somewhat regularly, then becoming a pub-crawl guide could be the perfect job for you – get paid to show visitors a good time and the authentic local nightlife.
Of course, these are all jobs you could do while travelling too. The Backpacker Pub Crawl, for example, run popular pub crawls in 5 cities in Europe currently, and if you have decent hostel working experience, you’re pretty much qualified to work in most hostels anywhere, especially if you’ve worked in a hostel chain with properties in different regions you can move between. One sure way to beat post-travel blues is to not stop travelling.
Share your experience to help others
Being able to share your travel knowledge & experience, post-trip, with other travellers who can benefit from it adds more real value to your travels, and this really helps combat any gloom associated with thinking of your trip as something past-tense, it’s still current, relevant and alive.
You can do this by becoming active in online groups, for example the NOMADS – A life of alternative travel Facebook group, start your own group or forum, or hell, write a blog.
Wear your holiday clothes at home!
Yep, this sounds stupid, and perhaps pathetic, but it works for me. You know the way certain songs are loaded with pangs of nostalgia, or can instantly remind you of a particular time and place, and particular feelings? Well, I find something similar happens with clothes & items I originally acquired during or in prep for travels. When I wear my old flip-flops from my 2009 trip to Barcelona around the house, I have fond memories of being in awe of Sagrada Familia, the buzz of the busy beach, and late-night chats with interesting prostitutes on La Ramblas. Likewise, my cheap Aviator knock-offs I got in Zadar years ago remind me of the boat trip to the Dalmatian islands and still make me feel like the warm sun is shining on my face when I wear them, even on a dull day in rain-soaked Dublin.
Make your memories tactile
A somewhat over-used (perhaps now, even cliché) inspirational travel quote reads something like “collect memories, not things”. It’s good advice, to an extent, but sometimes “things” are good. Things add colour and texture to your life & your surroundings, and things from your travels can serve as wonderful mementos and, especially in times of negative feelings, positive reminders of travel. You don’t need to buy tacky, kitsch souvenirs though, be creative; turn the bottle cap from that delicious Berlin brewery craft beer into a badge for your backpack, free a few of your favourite travel snaps from the confines of Instagram and print them out to hang up, or turn your maps into a work of art.
Make a change
For me, the post-travel blues tended to centre around the fact that I was going back to the same ol’ same old existence, the routine, the everyday. So, I decided that each time I got away on a trip and got some distance & perspective, I would choose one thing I didn’t like about my daily life to change when I got back. It wasn’t always easy, but it did mean that I was never going back to the exact same thing; even if I wouldn’t be successful in every instance, just the intention to achieve some change, however small, meant I was never going back to the same ol’ same old norm.
Embrace your regrets
Often post-travel blues involve an element of anxiety over something you wished you’d done, done differently, or didn’t do at all. “I should have made time to visit Dracula’s Castle”, “I should have been braver and done that bungee jump”, “I wish I hadn’t lost an entire day to Tequila poisoning”. Travelling is a luxury for most of us, infrequent and not easily afforded, we work hard to save up, and have certain expectations. So, when we’ve done it and returned, we can often over-think and dwell on perceived negatives. What we should do is embrace them, use them to evaluate the whole experience and inform what we will do next time, and what we won’t. Frame the negatives as positives and they become worthy regrets.
Well, in the words of Porky Pig, that’s all folks. I hope you enjoyed perusing these titbits and I hope the next time you experience post-travel blues that something you’ve read here will help banish them. Have you got some effective ways to beat the post-travel blues? Please feel free to share them in the comments. Happy travels.
Written by Ray, In Ireland, while eating an entire tub of toffee bonbons and listening to Nick Cave, Luke Kelly, London Grammar, & NIN