Post Travel Depression: It’s Real and It SUCKS


They say the hardest thing about travelling is coming back home…

It’s been exactly 1 month since leaving Montreal – how the hell has that happened? If you speak to Time, please tell him he’s working a bit too quickly lately, because damn has time absolutely escaped me. I guess travelling around the States for 2 weeks helped (if you missed it you can check out my videos from America here). Upon being back in Australia I’ve been equally busy. Seeing friends, family, getting back to work, finding a house, and finally sleeping in my own bed (luxury!), I’ve been busy enough to distract me from the void in my stomach. But now that routine is finally starting to kick in, I’m slowly but surely hitting that inevitable wall of post travel depression.

Post Travel Depression, I argue, is a real and genuine thing that overcomes you a few weeks after returning from overseas. And the worst thing is, that you’re never really prepared for it. No matter if you’re a seasoned traveller or a first timer, I promise that it will still hit you as hard every time. You come back from your holiday (or in my case, exchange) and you’re like a minor celebrity. You walk around, see everyone you know, everyone’s asking about your trip, your pictures, if you met any cute boys… and you’re ecstatic.

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Did That Really Happen?

But then a week passes by, you start working again, then another week passes by, and you’re hanging out at your old bar, then a few more days pass by and it’s honestly like you’ve never left. Everything you’ve experienced, just feels like a dream. But how could it be a dream? It was one of the best experiences of your life! And slowly but surely, you slip right back into your old life, and you start sinking.

Change

I think the worst part is when you feel that you’ve changed, grown and had your mind and eyes well and truly blown. You’ve basically created a new version of you whilst on your travels, but the people you know and love back home, can’t see it. Sure they may notice little things, that you’ve put on some weight from all those baguettes, or picked up a weird accent, but at the end of the day, they’ll never truly understand. And that contributes towards the ‘dreamlike’ feeling of your experience, it kind of leaves you questioning if it really happened, and you feel yourself loosing a part of person you created overseas. And that feeling…. it’s incredibly horrible.

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Missing Out

It’s even worse when some sort of major event or occasion happens where you were living or travelling, and you get an overwhelming feeling of missing out. For example, not long after I left Montreal, there was a festival called IglooFest. And if the name itself isn’t enough to sell you, all of my friends went. OK, so that wasn’t the end of the world, missing an awesome festival. But what really hit me in the feels, was when it was my best friends 22nd birthday. You see snapchats, Instagrams, Facebook posts and you just know, deep in your heart, that everyone is having an amazing time, and that you’re really missing out on something special.

And I guess that’s something that we just have to come to accept and deal with. You can’t be everywhere at the same time (unless we make MAJOR advancements in technology asap). And we can’t always do everything we want to do. Reality strikes, your visas up, your exchange is over, your return flight is booked and you’ve got things to do. This doesn’t mean you have to be boring, but it does mean that physical barriers exist and at the end of the day, if you can’t be there in person, I’m sure you’re there in spirit (drinking all the spirits at the party whilst killing it at beer pong).

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Expression and Communication

The best way to deal with these feelings, is to get it out there. Society almost expects people who return from travel, to always be happy and rejuvenated. But by talking about how you’re feeling, and spreading the word of the honestly shit feelings you experience when returning, then you’ll get a lot more support, love and kindness.

And keep in contact with your friends you’ve met overseas. Give them a random FaceTime, send them a card, Snapchat them your day, write them a message and tell them that you’re having a rough time and that you miss them. I assure you that your friends will be missing you too. The most important thing to remember is that the friends you meet whilst on exchange or travelling aren’t just going to disappear. In fact, I think you’ll cross paths sooner than you expect.

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Your Next Adventure

Whilst everyone will experience this post travel depression differently and adjust at different rates and in different ways, I promise you, you’ll get through it. Soon enough you’ll be planning your next trip and starting your next adventure. The most important thing to remember is that travel and adventure is not just an action, it’s a mindset. So keep positive, live with purpose and accept and respect your feelings. You’ve gotta look after yourself, so that you can adjust to life back home, whilst planning your next adventure so you can do it all again.

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1 Year On: Returning ‘Home’ After A Year Abroad

Firstly, I’ll start by saying how extremely difficult it was for me to write this post. Not physically write it, but for me to actually accept the fact that this big journey that I’ve been living (my Eurotrip Gap Year) was a year ago and is officially over.

So this time 2 years ago (January of 2013) I got on a plane and headed off to London (you can read about my Gap Year here). One year later (a year ago nearly to the day) I said goodbye to London and G’Day to Australia. And as the months flew by, I got stuck in to my new uni life (read about my adventures of 2014 here) as my London life slowly slipped away. So what are the biggest changes readjusting to life back ‘home?’ How do I define home? What’s the hardest part of it all? Here it is.

About to jet off to Iceland
About to jet off to Iceland

Home isn’t quite the same – you’re stuck somewhere in between. For a few months you mistakingly refer to home as in London (after all, it was home sweet home), then you start calling your parents house home, then where you’re living home and then you just get confused. I believe home truly is where the heart is, and my heart seems to be scattered around the world.

You have an identity crisis – you get on the plane all strong minded like ‘yea I know who I am and I’m not gonna let anyone change me.’ Then you land in Sydney, see all your friends and family and suddenly have an identity crisis. WHO AM I? It’s a terrifying experience, thinking that the old you is slipping away, making way for the new you that you’re not quite sure you like. The thought that got me through this ‘transformation’ is that I’m growing and learning from every experience (good or bad) and at the end of the day, it will help make me stronger.

Conquering a hike through a valley
Trying to be a strong independent woman

People see you as the same little you that left – Not the strong independent traveller you now are. School friends see you as the nerd that studied too much, or too things too seriously, or partied too much… but little do they know how much you’ve changed. You feel so empowered, accomplished and strong until someone says ‘aw, you haven’t changed one bit,’ then all that confidence disappears like packets of Tim Tam’s on sale.

You can no longer say ‘This time last year’- For some reason, this was such a comforting statement. Comparing my life now to my adventures last year. But now I can say this time next year… who knows where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing!’ That is the most motivating thought I have. The thought of the unknown!

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Welcoming new challenges and adventures

You can see people getting bored with your travelling stories but you’ll still tell them again – What do you mean you don’t want to hear about how I lost my purse in Rome and magically found it an hour later with all my money in it? Or the time I crashed the best house party in London? Or the time I got to march in the St. Pattys Day Parade in Dublin? Or the time… Ok I get it, you’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it a few more times yet so get comfortable.

You get a serious case of PTD (Post Travel Depression) – You have the highest high that travel offers and suddenly you stop and you’re back at home. Then you come crashing down with the realisation that it’s over. It’s real and it sucks.

You lose touch with your ‘lifelong friends’- At high school you have about 50 BFFL pink sparkly necklaces. And as soon as you jet off, the sparkles seem to magically disappear. This isn’t necessarily a sad part of leaving home, it’s just the inevitable change in life that takes some getting used to. Regardless of if you actually keep these friendships for life, you’ll always have the precious memories of friendships.

My (short) Christmas with my family 2014
You realise how important family is!

But you also find out who your real friends are – You might now have to message everyday. In fact, one of my best friends that was in Australia when I was overseas and I barely spoke. Not because we didn’t want to, but because we were so preoccupied with our busy lives. And the second one of us needed eachother, we’d be there. The minute I returned to Australia it was like I never left. It’s those sorts of friendships that will last for years and will be the most special. Best Friends For Life (for real).

You don’t settle for okay anymore – You’ve had a taste of the spicy, succulent, addictive flavours of the world and crave it everyday. Why would you then settle for a little salt and pepper seasoning? You won’t accept ordinary, or average, or okay… you try to make everything incredible!

You feel motivated to do it again – Was it all worth it? The love, the pain, the grief, homesickness, the ongoing identity crisis… (see image below)! So what am I doing about it now? I’m trying to live life to the fullest, to appreciate everything and everyone I have and bring on the adventures for 2015 and years to come!

x A

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If it’s on Sex and the City, it must be true