Even after short trips of a week, I—along with many travelers—suffer from aprés-blues, a sort of post-trip depression that sets in as the familiar rhythms of “normal” life return. My education in dealing with this has come from rehashing the post-trip experience over several years, and from talking to others who succumbed to reverse-culture shock in ways similar to my own.
Weighed against clinical depression or chemical imbalance, our woes seem trite and unheroic—but those of us who have passed through it know that not confronting these issues can lead to a mental and spiritual paralysis, guaranteeing that the months immediately following our homecoming are dull and bland, even repulsive, and it can lead to a vicious cycle of leave-return-leave that can easily be linked to a loss of sense of home.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of ways I’ve found to deal with aprés-blues. They’ve helped me and others, so hopefully they can help you, too:
Getting Back on Your Feet: The Post-Trip Checklist
Don’t re-engage your social life unreservedly. You just got back from a (likely) life-changing experience. Don’t short yourself on time by yourself spent reflecting on it.
End your trip around family, if you have family you can stand being around. You may feel all grown up, but every once in a while it’s nice to let your parents fall into familiar roles. Your family know you best, and chances are they can relate a little bit to what you’re going through.
Busy yourself. Not with busy work, of course. But be inspired by something on your trip (language, cuisine, philosophy, etc.) and devote some energy to learning more about it.
Update your résumé. This doesn’t take too long. If your trip was a few months or more, add it to the miscellaneous section of your CV. Companies love to see international experience, however informal it may have been.
Throw a homecoming party for yourself. I don’t gravitate towards huge parties, but I had a blast at my self-thrown homecoming/birthday combo-bash this year. Everyone got slingshots and paintballs and we ran around in the forest for a few hours, and then returned to the house for a drive-in style movie night with a full barbecue cook-out!
Get back to work. Hopefully, you have a job you love. If your job sucks the life out of you, it might be time to think about why you’re there. I’ve found out the hard way that I wasn’t doing anyone any favors by being miserable all the time, even with a great paycheck.
And my personal favorite…
Start planning your next trip. It doesn’t have to be much. Even a rough calendar sketch can be enough to get your gears turning—a sure-fire sign of long-range goal-setting.
What helps you deal with post-trip depression? Are you prone to it at all?