Post-Travel Blues


When I first arrive at a holiday destination and I see all of the people preparing to leave I’ll look at them part sympathy and also part smugness – I still have all of my vacation stretching before me. I check-in and promptly make myself fully at home. Somehow, after just a few days this life and routine can start to feel more real to me than the many years I’ve spent at home. An unease will eventually set in as the days become numbered. The ‘clack clack clack’ of people wheeling their suitcases will start to fill me with dread. Inevitably it ends up being me now stood on the side of departures, my suitcase clacking behind me. I gaze through at the new arrivals, wishing that I was in their place – not so smug now. The flight home is never brimming with as much enthusiasm and you’ll be confronted with videos and brochures advertising holidays that you know are now a long way off. While the airport we use is lovely for departures, it’s pretty grim on arrivals; Driving you to what feels like some out of the way back entrance where you’ll be inspected by security staff that never smile. When I finally get back through the front door of my house it seems familiar and yet strange at the same time.

I’ve just returned from the Canary Islands for the second time this year. We ended up going again because my partner felt so down after we returned home the first time; he ended up booking another holiday almost right away just to cheer himself back up. I’ve never dealt very well with coming home; in fact I’m embarrassed to admit that I can get overly emotional and even shed a few tears – it’s times like those I consider myself to be a bit of an emotional wreck. I thought this was something I’d grow out of as I got older or that it’d be easier considering that I’ve been lucky enough to have already been this year. I promised myself that I wouldn’t dwell on it or risk ruining the final day of my holiday, but I couldn’t seem to work through that unsettling feeling I had. I feel a little guilty for being down, because at least I’ve had a holiday, so I should be happy right?

It’s odd because when I’m preparing to go on holiday, despite really looking forward to it, I can be somewhat reluctant to leave behind my home comforts. Even while I’m away there will be things I miss and look forward to returning to. Yet when it comes time to leave, no matter how much I try to remind myself of all those things, it’s not enough to prevent me from feeling melancholic. I seem to develop silly attachments to objects and places, ‘goodbye sun-bed where I spent so much time reading my Kindle, goodbye swimming pool where I’d cool off and goodbye all-inclusive restaurant that served food I can’t get easily back home.’ – irresponsibly piling up my final plate with churros.

I don’t think I deal too well with drastic changes in routine. I seem to be ok when leaving, but a little novelty is exciting and I know I’ll be returning eventually. When I’m travelling a lot of distance quickly, my perception of time gets thrown off. It felt like I was there a long time, and yet it also flew by very quickly. It feels like I haven’t been home in ages, but it was only a couple of weeks ago. When I think back it can also seem like a lifetime ago or simply a dream, but then I remember that I was still in the Canary Islands when I woke up yesterday morning. Changing climate zone is also unpleasantly sudden, moving between a dry tropical one and cool moist one. The weather was actually fairly pleasant when I left, but I knew it was going to turn while I was away. Thick clouds, drizzle and freezing cold waited to greet me – I’m definitely a warm weather person. It can also hit hard when you’ve been looking forward to something for a long time, planning and preparing for it, for it to be over.

When I looked this up I realized that it’s fairly common to feel like you’re on an emotional roller-coaster while travelling. While we may have our home comforts, the truth is we’ll also be returning back to the parts of our routine that isn’t so great. While on holiday, we live more in the moment and fill the time with lots of new and exciting experiences, but when we return so do the worries about our past and future. For me, it’s taking a brief respite from my anxiety; I actually feel like I have more energy on holiday despite filling the days with more activity than I usually would. Everything also feels so much more mundane than it did before I experienced the wonders of faraway places.

When my post-holiday blues are at their worst I wonder why I even put myself through this; Perhaps it’d be easier just to stay settled in the same undisturbed routine and to never travel. Then I think about the many experiences I would have missed out on if I hadn’t gone away and that seems worse. It takes a few days or up to a week to feel normal again, but when it does I’ll always look back on those memories with nothing but joy.

I never much liked the saying, all good things must come to an end and instead prefer to think that good times will return. We have to feel down sometimes, so that we can fully appreciate the ups by contrast. No matter how sad we feel it will usually always pass with time. My partner likes to keep countdowns on his phone for the things we’re looking forward to, and we always try to make sure we have at least one going, no matter how small or far off it is. We’ll try to set them before ending another one, therefore we can tell ourselves that at least we have that other thing still to look forward to.


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About wallcat

I have a strong passion for computing. In particular programming for which I am able to use a variety of languages including C++, Visual C#, Blitz Basic, Actionscript 2.0, Python and Lua. I also enjoy web-design and have some knowledge of HTML/CSS, PHP/SQL and Javascript. As well as programming I have a strong background in art and enjoy drawing in my spare time. When I’m not sat at my computer I like to keep fit by going to the gym or using my exercise ball.

3 responses to “Post-Travel Blues”

  1. Lori L MacLaughlin says :

    I know exactly what you mean. I love to travel, but the going and the coming are stressful for me. I get stressed in the days leading up to when we leave, trying to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. I don’t like airports. All the increased security, though necessary, makes me nervous that I’m going to do something wrong. Once I get to wherever we’re going, I’m fine and I enjoy everything immensely — so much so that it’s hard to come home to the anxieties of the regular routine. For a while after we get home, I so wish we were back on vacation. Like you said, everything seems mundane.

    It won’t keep me from traveling, though. If I ever get the opportunity to explore new places, I’m gone. The experiences are definitely worth it.

    • wallcat says :

      I hate packing up and preparing to go. I get really stressed worrying over whether or not I’ve forgotten something. I get nervous going through security too. I probably look shifty because of my paranoid thoughts telling me not to look shifty, even though I haven’t actually done anything wrong. I’m not so keen on having to empty my electricals out now because that’s practically my entire bag. I just keep reminding myself that it’s actually a very good thing that they are as thorough as they are. Once it’s all sorted and we’re on the plane, then I can finally start to relax into the holiday.

      I use to think that travelling wasn’t for me because I hated leaving things behind, but it also upset me coming back to them. Although my parents are quite outdoorsy and enjoy travelling, and I think they’ve passed a little of that adventurous spirit onto me. It’s just difficult being such a sensitive/emotional being and I wish I didn’t have to go through the post-travel blues. I know I’ll have many more future opportunities to go travelling again anyway.

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