Any traveler has experienced it: that spirit-sapping malaise that can so potently strike on the heels of an extended trip. While the timing and severity of this back-home depression can take you by surprise, the feeling itself isn’t so hard to diagnose. After all, the familiarity and routine of home and work life often jars in contrast to the sense of freedom, discovery, and spontaneity experienced on the road, exploring far-off places and cultures.
Fortunately, post-travel blues aren’t permanent. And even more promisingly, they can be actively countered with a wide variety of methods. Best of all, those methods become all the more second-nature over time; experienced travelers may even learn to head the blues off at the pass and gradually stop experiencing them.
Here are a few ideas for facing the post-trip melancholia—and finding ways to gain perspective on your trip in the process.
1) Document your trip impressions
This may seem an obvious activity whether or not you’re feeling low, but too many of us neglect to chronicle our travels while they’re fresh in our minds. It’s all too easy to put off sorting and captioning those photos or completing that travel journal, and then to discover—whenever we do get around to it—that our memories of those beautiful specificities we wanted to capture are failing us.
So—rather than wallow in post-travel ennui, dive into cataloguing your journey.
Even if you aren’t a scrapbook-maker or diarist, write down a stream-of-consciousness account of the trip: the sights, the sounds, the food, the people, the drama, the moods, the inspirations. You can tap that bittersweet feeling of homecoming for creative energy—and for sharper, more crystalline recall of those adventures so recently past.
Your future self will thank you for the attentiveness with which you logged your trip impressions. It’s not the exactitude of your chronicle itself that’s necessarily most valuable, but the promise that it will better spark authentic sensory memories down the road.
From some seemingly insignificant detail that you wrote down (or sketched or photographed), the mind might flash to an entire afternoon—the quality of light, the taste of an appetizer, a conversation with a cafe seatmate. Those are priceless associations, and your prompt documentation can cement them for a lifetime’s worth of enjoyment.