After an amazing vacation, many travelers come home feeling…sad. You might find yourself thinking, “I just got back home from vacation and I feel sad.” Why is this, and how can you feel better?
After a week-long adventure of laying in the soft beach sand, feeling the warm wind blow through your hair, and sipping a cold margarita, you eventually need to transition back to reality.
You have to go back to work with a huge stack of papers piling on your desk, you overspent during your vacation, and have bills coming up, the laundry is stacking up… It is easy to see how reality can hit you like a slap in the face!
You don’t want to feel miserable, because you should feel privileged that you got to go somewhere in the first place, right?
Dr. Gerhard Strauss-Blanche, from the Department of Physiology at the University of Vienna, suggests, “Vacationers cease to be used to stress and thus react more strongly when confronted with it again” Makes sense!
Vacations are supposed to lift your spirits and rejuvenate your body and mind, not leave you feeling sad and blue! These tips will discuss how to combat the post trip slump, so you can keep your relaxed vacation mind alive!
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How to deal with post-vacation depression
Slow Transition to Reality
One key to combating post trip depression is to have a slow transition back to reality. When you come home from an amazing trip, the last thing you will want to do is tackle your to-do list. You might be thinking, “I just got back home from vacation and I already feel sad”, which leaves you feel unmotivated to do anything!
Instead of immediately unpacking, putting in laundry, and doing chores, take it one step at a time. Do you really need to get it all done in one day? Maybe unpack just the necessary items at first, like your toiletries and shoes you might need to wear. The rest can wait a day or two! Here is a post-vacation checklist for some reminders!
Don’t try to get all your laundry done in one day. Keep it simple: do 1-2 loads a day, until you are caught up so you don’t get overworked.
Maybe you don’t have much food in the house- just order a pizza if you don’t want to cook!
Of course, these tips might not be possible if you need to work the next day, but still try to remember to take things slow and don’t overexert yourself the first night home.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Another tip for how to deal with post trip depression is to prepare for your return before you even leave for vacation.
In our ultimate pre-vacation checklist we discuss everything you should do before you leave for vacation, to ensure you return to a relaxing and clean home.
This includes cooking a healthy meal ahead of time and putting it in the freezer. When you get home from vacation, you won’t have to worry about cooking dinner- just defrost and enjoy!
Cleaning up your home will help your post trip slump as well. A clean home never hurt anyone, and it will feel better to walk into a clean home than to think of all the chores you need to do immediately after walking in the door.
Wash your bedsheets, so you can come home to a cozy clean bed. Make your bed up nice, almost like at a hotel, which will make it that much more inviting for yourself when you get back home.
When you come back and you find yourself saying, “I just got back home and I already feel sad”, at least your house will be clean and everything will be taken care of!
Take an Extra Day Off
If you are able to, aim to take an extra day or two off of work after you get home from a vacation. No one wants to get home late at night, then have to wake up early and go to work the next morning!
Especially if you find yourself saying, “I just got back home from vacation and I’m feeling depressed”, you might want to give yourself some time to recuperate.
If you are not able to take another day off, try to plan your return from vacation as close to the weekend (or your scheduled days off) as possible. This way, even if you have to go back to work the next day, it might only be one or two days until the weekend- doesn’t seem as bad!
An extra couple of days off is extremely important if you were traveling internationally, to deal with jet lag symptoms! Your body will need time to adjust to the new time zone, and going to work jet-lagged is not going to do anyone any favors!
With your day off, take time to slowly continue unpacking, doing laundry, and any other chore you might need to do: grocery shopping, cleaning up the house, etc.
Make time for relaxation- don’t feel bad about binge-watching all your favorite shows all day. Maybe take a walk, get some sunshine, and do something you enjoy!
Keep your Schedule Simple
Don’t plan a lot of events the week after you return from vacation. Sometimes you might have responsibilities or events or appointments you need to attend, but try to keep your schedule as simple as possible.
When you come home from a trip, the last thing you will want to do is running around town getting to appointments, meetings, and gatherings with friends. Remember to take the first week back slow, and save as much as you can for later in the month.
Make the first week back all about you- what do your mind and body need? Make those things a priority! Read more about self-care and how to stay healthy while traveling!
Plan Something Fun
Another tip for how to combat post vacation depression is to plan something small to look forward to!
You can plan a get together with a friend to discuss your trip, a special date night with you and your partner, or a family day with your kids. Having something fun to look forward to in the near future will give you an extra boost when you are feeling blue.
It does not have to be a grand gesture or event- it could even just be a shopping day with yourself! Anything that will make you look forward to doing something will do! When you are feeling down, you can just think ‘hey! I have ___ coming up! I’m so excited for it!’ and it should help, even just a little bit! Its not the Eiffel Tower, but you’re trying!
Plan your Next Trip!
As opposed to the previous tip, now is the time to plan something on a larger scale! If you are anything like us, we almost always have a trip planned in the future- it’s kind of like an addiction! Planning your next trip will help satisfy your craving for adventure, and give you something big to look forward to.
Especially if you are thinking to yourself, “I just got back home, why do I feel sad?”, this might be a great time to give yourself something fun to look forward to again!
The budget might be tight after a vacation, and that’s ok! You can still start planning your next trip, and start searching for the cheapest flights. Start thinking about where you want to go next (or maybe you already know!) and let the researching begin!
Take a look at how much tickets are, and how much you will need to save. Research what to do in the area, and any other details you might need to know! Sometimes the planning stage is just as fun as the trip, so enjoy it!
Explore your Home Town
Maintain your traveler mindset and explore your home town! You might be feeling restless after your vacation, and still have that itch to explore- so become a tourist in your own town!
There are often so many things we have never done in our own city we live in, so why not take your adventuring energy and see what you can find!
Take along your partner or a friend, and take some goofy photos, explore local history, and eat at a new restaurant. See if you can find the weirdest restaurant or the scariest old house. Who knows, maybe you will find something amazing!
Hopefully, this will help your urge to explore, at least for a little longer!
Get your Diet Together
I think one of the hardest parts of coming home from a vacation is eating healthy again! Most travelers, including myself, tend to splurge while on vacation, eating everything and anything they way. While we should try to stay healthy on vacation, I get its difficult!
Especially when you are saying to yourself, “I just got back home and I’m depressed”, you probably are going to reach for some comfort food. Try not to do this!
When you get home, go grocery shopping and stock up on fresh produce. Try to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into all of your meals, and stay away from fried foods and eating take out.
Starting drinking more water, and you are probably dehydrated from the airplane ride, the hot sun, alcohol, and doing lots of walking on your trip.
And of course, get some exercise in! Exercising will help relieve stress, and even help you feel happier! Take a walk around the block, or hit up the gym!
You already know all this, though- its just a matter of doing it. I believe in you! If your body feels good, your mind will feel good!
You knew this one was coming, but it is so important! I’m sure you didn’t get full nights rest every day of your trip. You might have been out late at night, up early to explore, or just jet-lagged from the time changes!
Whatever the case, make sure you get back on your normal sleep schedule. If you’ve been going to sleep at midnight during vacation, but usually go to bed at 10 pm, you can simply go one hour earlier at a time.
If it is 2 pm but really feels like 10 pm to you, try not to take a nap! Jet lag is awful, but the only way through is to fight it! The sooner you get back on schedule, the sooner your body will feel better!
Re-Create your Favorite Meal
This is a fun tip on our list of how to combat post trip depression. Sometimes on a vacation, there is a meal that truly stands out to your taste buds. Why not try to replicate it?!
This can be a fun activity for you and your partner or family, as a way to reminisce about your vacation. We did this once with a meal we ate in Rome. Be warned- the meal doesn’t usually taste as you wanted it to, but its fun trying!
Taking a part of your vacation and bringing it into the home is a fun way to keep your memories alive!
Print Photos & Reminisce!
This one might be obvious, but the best way to get over the post trip depression is to reminisce about your trip! Relive your favorite memories, funny things that happened and things that stood out to you throughout the trip.
It can be fun to hear other perspectives on the same vacation! Look through photos and smile knowing you had a great time. Maybe even make a scrapbook, or print some new pictures for your walls.
If you took any videos, that’s a plus! It can be fun to watch these videos and pretend you are there all over again!
Here are some tips on how to take the best pictures on vacation.
Implement what you Learned
The last tip we have for how to combat post trip depression is to implement what you learned during your trip.
I always come home from a vacation feeling like a new version of myself- almost like I left a piece of myself there, and brought back a new and improved piece. It can be easy to let these feelings go when you are slammed in the face with reality, but try to hold these feelings as much as possible!
Maybe you have a new appreciation for your culture, or you want to add something to your current routines. You might feel more grateful than usual, or feel like you have gained a new perspective.
And that, my friends, is the beauty of travel. Hold onto it, nurture it, and build on it with more trips to come.
Thank you for “I just got back home from vacation and I feel depressed… What do I do? What strategies do you have to fight feeling blue after a trip? Let us know in the comments below!