We spend so long lusting over other people’s trips, and happily recounting our fantastic adventures to others, but what really happens when the excitement is over?
Welcome to post travel depression.
Preparing for my (what was supposed to be a two year) trip to Australia was a life changing experience. On top of the actual time spent away from home, saving up for the trip took me nearly a year, and you can see how I did that in this post here.
In that time I was saving, travel was my purpose in life. Every penny I saved, every day spent in work, it was all for the greater good – to be able to explore the other side of the world.
And I did it!
After 6 months of living and working in Australia and Thailand it was time to return home, ending our ‘great escape’ early for personal reasons.
But once the jet-lag wore off, the sudden reality hit home. I woke up in my empty childhood bedroom, with very few possessions to my name. I had no job, no plan for what to do now, and no purpose in my life. Once the very thing that I had spent a good two years of my life planning for was over, I had to find something new to fill that void.
Only, it wasn’t so simple as that.
When I should have been sat at my desk, blogging about my adventures, and editing the 4000+ photos I had taken, I found that I couldn’t switch my camera on.
I couldn’t look at the photos. I didn’t want to admit that it was over, and so soon. That thing that had kept me going every since I left university, that had kept me going during rough patches at home, was now a memory.
I realized at that moment that planning for long-term travel had kept me distracted from a lot of demons inside of me, issues that I should have faced head on years ago. Travel had allowed me to live a “goal-worthy” life, when really on the inside, I had some serious problems.
A month passed at home and I struggled to do much. I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t know what I should do, and eventually I ended up at counselling. Counselling brought a lot of struggles to the surface, even ones from my early days of university and my childhood, because for the first time in my life I had no distraction. All I had was time.
That is the worst thing about coming home from travelling – the time you have. Time where you have nothing, and you need to plan what comes next, because chances are, you also quit your job and used all of your savings to pack up and set off on a one way plane ticket.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR GOING HOME
Heading home from a trip soon? Being prepared is going to save you a lot of tears.
Sort out where you are going to live. Realistically that might mean moving back in with your safety net until you get back on your feet, and if so, it’s important to work on getting your own space. Going from having the freedom of the entire world at your fingertips, to tip-toeing around someone else’s kitchen is really f**king hard.
Use your travel experience to find a job that you will actually enjoy. For me I was able to use my experience to get a job working in Travel Money, and I get to share my tips and experiences with people who genuinely care. Travel also shows that you can plan ahead, organize, and budget your finances extremely well!
Seek counselling. Everyone gets the holiday blues, but if this lasts for a longer than usual time period then something else might be at play. As explained about, ending my travels gave me too much time to think about my life, and I realised that I might have been trying to run away from some personal problems, instead of facing them head on.
Plan what comes next. When one door closes, you have to make another one open. This could be planning for another long term trip, or it could be finding your feet at home. It took me a few months to decide that I wanted to try a new adventure, and get on the property ladder, but since doing that I’ve been in a much better frame of mind. My life has purpose again.
Go out and explore! Being abroad is a thrill; every day is a new experience. New food to try, new shops to visit, new cultures to explore – but remember that no matter how much you think you know your home area, there are still plenty of things to do! Get on a bus that you’ve never been on before, get the train to another city, or take a picnic into the middle of nowhere. Just, do something.
I hope I’ve been able to shed light on this. Let’s start talking about the after, not just the during, because all good stories need to come to an end.
Finally I could look through these photos, and plan some blog posts with genuine excitement to revisit my time in Australia and Asia.
Thank you for reading, until next time, Vanessa x