We’ve all been there. You return home from the most incredible trip and everything just sucks. Work sucks, home sucks, even your friend’s kind of suck at first with all their ‘boring lives’ (sorry, guys!). Your head is full of memories of all the amazing places you’ve seen, all the inspiring and cool people that you’ve met and all the epic experiences that you’ve had.
You’re bummed out that your back home, and that’s a given. It’s expected.
But what about the blues that you get whilst you’re still on your amazing trip? (They’re not supposed to happen!!)
The first time I ever went away, alone for an extended period of time was when I spent 6 months in Australia when I was 20. I honestly don’t remember so much of the trip but I do remember being given the following piece of advice from one of my roommates in Cairns, a backpacker from the USA.
‘There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs. I hope you’re ready for a roller coaster ride,’ she said.
At the time I thought she was just being dramatic, or perhaps she’s just had a bad experience. Personally, I was buzzing haven’t just spend the last few months fantasising about all the amazing places I was about to see, how could I possibly get down with so much to do and so much to look forward to? I wouldn’t have the time for that!
7 years down the line and these words are some of the realest that someone has ever said to me whilst travelling.
There’s a side to travelling that most people don’t talk about, and they definitely don’t post about it on social media.
Travelling is sometimes extremely challenging and at times, very lonely, especially if you mostly travel alone. You can go through periods of time when you question what you are doing, wonder why you are doing it and sometimes whether you even can!
There’s the fact that you’re constantly living life outside your usual comfort zone and having to do things that you’ve never done before. Granted this is probably one of the biggest reason that you decided to travel in the first place, but the reality is that many of these new things and experiences won’t be enjoyable. Adventurous – yes. Something to look back on and think ‘wow’ – no doubt. But enjoyable at the time – unlikely.
Such things can leave you desperately missing the comforts of your life back home or generally just leave you feeling quite shitty.
There’s also the fact that everything around you is different and things are done differently. Again, both invaluable experiences, but at the same time not always easy to deal with.
It’s easy for people who haven’t personally experienced this feeling to not get it. To them you are ‘so lucky’ and if you so much as hint that you’re feeling a bit down you’ll often be told to just ‘pull yourself together, stop being ungrateful, and get over it.’ (FYI this advice is not helpful and personally just makes me feel even worse.)
And whilst this may be true to a degree, it’s difficult to view your situation in this light when you’re deep in the travel blues rut.
So based on my own experience of the travel blues whist travelling, I’ve come up with some practical things that you can do in order to pull yourself out of that place ASAP and get back to feeling the great joy of travelling again!
- Talk to people. When you’re feeling the travel blues you tend to withdraw from people. Socialising can feel like literally the last thing you want to do, but isolating yourself will only make you feel worse. The great thing is that you are more than likely surrounded by people who know exactly how you’re feeling and what you’re going through. Take advantage of that and share how you’re feeling with those like-minded people around you.
- Do something you’d normally do when you’re at home. When travelling you are in a completely different environment. You’re surrounded by people that talk different, eat different and generally just live different to what you’re used to. Whilst these are probably all reasons why you are there in the first place they can also be the reasons that make you feel a bit lost. Try spending an afternoon doing something that you’d typically enjoy doing at home. Go for a run, watch your favourite film, eat your favourite dish. Remind yourself that home still exists and isn’t going anywhere and then get back to embracing your temporary different home.
- Do something that’s productive, something that creates some value. It is common knowledge that humans are happy when they feel fulfilled. Travelling is great but a large part of it involves hanging around just killing time, which can sometimes be a little soul-destroying and make you question your existence. To combat this, set yourself a task that you will enjoy (even better if it can benefit someone else too!) Maybe you write, maybe you draw, maybe you love exploring local culture or helping others. Whatever you would normally love on an ‘up day’, make an effort to do it. If you can’t think of anything for yourself, volunteer a few hours in a local café or hotel and help out someone else. I’ve often found that lifting others is the quickest way to lift yourself.
- Reach out to someone back home. The last time I found myself stuck with the travel blues I was in a remote part of India with no Wi-Fi and no network coverage so this was impossible. If however you are lucky enough to have access to Wi-Fi message or call a friend or family member from home. You’ll soon realise that you’re not missing out on anything and also just hearing a friendly face is bound to have you feeling better in no time.
- Move on. If all these things fail, maybe it’s time to consider the idea that the place where you’re at is no longer serving you. Your environment can have a big impact on your life-state whether you are aware of it or not so if you don’t have to be somewhere, move on to the next place. Removing yourself from a situation that’s no longer adding to your happiness is sign of strength, not weakness.