These tips will help you curb your post-trip blues. (Photo: Tausha Cowan)
By Tausha Cowan
I was in college in New York City when I first experienced the post-travel blues. I’d just spent five months living and studying abroad in Ghana, and it was — and continues to be — one of the best experiences of my life.
Going from fast-paced, assertive NYC to Ghana, which was so different from everything I knew, was jarring. On my flight home to the Big Apple, I was already sad, and when my seatmate asked me where I was off to, I mumbled, “New York,” and felt my heart sink a little bit.
“Wow, you must be so excited,” the man replied.
I was sad. I knew those last five months were over and could never be replicated. And when I returned to New York, the sadness continued. Everything moved too quickly. No one took the time to say hello and chat like they did when I walked down the streets of my Ghanaian neighborhood. I could no longer ride my bike down the street to meet a friend, and I no longer saw the same 34 faces on a daily basis.
I secluded myself from most people who hadn’t been with me in Ghana, because I knew they wouldn’t understand why I was so distraught. It took a few weeks for me to get back into the swing of things, but eventually I did. Before I knew it, I was off to study abroad again, this time in Paris, where I had another unforgettable experience.
That’s the thing about travel: Every trip feels amazing, but you’re also aware that those moments with those specific people won’t ever happen again in the same way. For me, that knowledge means that every time I return from a vacation, I am grateful for the experience but also a little sad that another adventure is over.
Fortunately, there are ways to cure the so-called travel hangover — and no, they do not involve greasy eggs and a bunch of ibuprofen. These tips are more psychological, and they will help you readjust to daily life more smoothly.
1. Start planning another trip.
Research has shown that the anticipation of something — whether it’s a trip, a get-together with friends, or some other activity — makes us happy. I love the anticipation of a trip, and I love planning my next adventure. Some people would rather not be bothered, but for me, planning another trip — even if it’s just a day trip out of the city — always fills me with excitement and purpose. Planning a vacation or outing helps you remember that life is full of many adventures, and you should look forward to each one that comes your way.
The anticipation of your next trip can help you get over the blues after your last one. (Photo: Studio Firma/Stocksy)
2. Be a tourist in your own city.
We often think that we need to travel far and wide to discover new things. But, truth be told, there are ways to be a tourist right in your own backyard. I’ve lived in New York City for 11 years, so I’m well aware that there’s always something new to do — even after living here for so long. But for those of you who live in small towns, there are still ways to discover hidden gems that you never knew about, or even revisit local attractions that you might take for granted. It is precisely these days of discovery and wandering that help you remember to stop and enjoy the little things, whether they’re a five-minute drive away or in a completely different country.
Treating your hometown like a destination can help you get that vacation vibe going again. (Photo: Good Vibrations/Stocksy)
3. Create something visual.
A good friend of mine used to create these beautiful, detailed scrapbooks after each trip she took. Another friend who’s very passionate about photography put up online galleries of curated and edited photos. Me? I have my travel blog, as well as the 10 billion photo albums I love posting on my personal Facebook profile.
Whatever you decide to do, put your energy into creating something visual that will help you remember your amazing trip. One of my favorite things to do is to look at old travel photos — not with sadness, but with a happy nostalgia and gratitude that I got to experience those moments.
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A picture is worth a thousand words — and is also a great travel hangover cure. (Photo: Good Vibrations/Stocksy)
This may go without saying, but if you’re sad and suffering from the post-travel blues, you shouldn’t isolate yourself for too long. Don’t do the whole crawl-into-a-hole thing. It’s really not going to help anyone, including yourself.
Instead, meet up with your friends and, if they want to hear all about your trip, tell them. If they’ve been to the same places you have, it gives you the opportunity to reminisce while still enjoying the company of friends. Getting back into your social life will also help you remember what you love about being home.
You’ll get by with a little help from your friends. (Photo: Lumina/Stocksy)
Granted, even when I follow all of these guidelines, I still get the post-travel blues — but not as badly. And even though I don’t exactly look forward to my hangover, I don’t ever regret drinking the metaphorical booze in the first place. And neither should you. My advice? Get drunk on travel. As drunk as you possibly can. Those are the moments that make you you. And then when you get home, cure your hangover with these tips — and remember that no matter how bad you feel, it was totally worth it.