How to fight Post Travel Depression

The moment is here! The moment i’ve dreaded even before I started my trip to Zanzibar.

Everybody talks about how exhilaratingly it is to travel but nobody likes to discuss the feeling of coming down from your travel high and going back to the monotonous routine of life and work.

I’m on my way home to UAE and I feel like kicking and screaming the whole way back…Adulting here I come… I guess?!

This was my second time traveling to Zanzibar and as usual, the charm of Mother Africa was astonishingly pleasing to my spirit. I had a 5 day love affair with Tanzania and and the thought of coming down from my high, both physically and mentally is…. scary. I’m going to miss laughing till my stomach hurts at the hilarious Tanzanian people, the fish cakes at Mahali while gazing at the crystal clear water of Paje Beach. Listening to the spring rain storm with new friends as I overindulge in drinks and of course, admiring the gorgeous local men. Zanzi was good to me, I fall deeper in love every time I go.

The image of going back to UAE….The dry desert, bills, meetings, the same routine, the same kids and the same stress is making me extremely sad. I actually feel like crying! I’m battling internally with the idea of getting back to reality and into the swing of real life. I will miss Zanzibar of course and this will not be the last time we will see each other, but I know it’s time to get ready for work and into my normal routine. Despite this bout with Post Travel Depression, I do value the ability to travel and this past holiday has lit a fire under my ass to explore the world even more, to really dig deep into myself and create based off the people and places that I draw inspiration from on my adventures.

What is post travel depression?

Post travel depression or (PTD) is a type of depression or anxious mood that some travelers can experience when returning from a trip. PTD can hit anytime before your trip ends, up to days, weeks, or months after you arrived home. I usually start feeling PTD 1-2 days before I travel home and it last a couple of days after I am home. Symptoms can include anxiety, sadness, feelings of nostalgia, exhaustion, loss of appetite and lack of motivation.

Here are some ways to ease back into reality

  • If you can help it, don’t return to work right away!- Trust me, ease back into your work by scheduling your holiday to end a couple days earlier than when you have to return to work. Arriving to work the same day your flight lands or just one day before can be extremely stressful. Give yourself some time to unpack, plan and prepare for your work, it will help tremendously!

  • Eat healthy and exercise- If you’re like me, you eat like trash when on vacation! When we travel, it can be hard to take care of ourselves. I usually gain about 5lbs because I love to indulge in other cultures food and drink, this in turn causes me to deviated from what I would normally eat on a day to day basis. Eating healthy right away and exercising helps me lose the 5lbs I gain on my holidays and of course, helps me feel better about myself and environment.

  • Reread your travel diary/blog, update your entries and post trip pics: If I don’t start on a post about my travel right away, I won’t post in general. Writing in a journal every night while I travel and updating my blog as soon as I get home helps me to have new and exciting content to share with friends, family and followers. This is also the best time to organize your trip photos by creating albums for your photos on your phone, on FB and online.

  • Do your self-care rituals: As soon as I get back from my holiday I schedule an appointment in the salon! A Moroccan bath or pedi/mani immediately after traveling on a plane for 5plus hours is heavenly! Getting the dirt scrubbed off my body and a nice massage takes all the pain away from sitting on a plane for 5 plus hours. Do yourself a favor and get a pedicure, manicure, facial or just do a simple face mask at home. Your body will feel at ease, ready for work or your next adventure. Self-care also helps with fighting depression.

  • Book your next trip: Don’t let the adventure stop here! Book your next trip, even if its just for a weekend. It will allow you to have something exciting and new to look forward to. A Dhow cruise to Oman for the weekend and a two week holiday in the summer is next on my list to book. Im extremely excited to travel to new countries and planning ahead helps me get an idea of what I want to see. If you have no idea where you want to go, take a look at your list of dream places to travel or use the SkyScanner app to see the best airline ticket prices in your area, to help plan your next adventure. Its never to early to start planning your next trip, just do It.

  • Unpack: I have to admit, this is something I struggle with! As I sit here typing this a day after returning from Zanzibar, I still haven’t unpacked my suitcase. But washing your clothes, putting away your toiletries and organizing your souvenirs will help with getting out of the post travel depression.It will also assist in you moving forward in your regular routine and schedule.

  • Meet up with friends and family: As soon as I got back from Zanzibar, a good friend came over and surprised me with dinner! I missed being around my friends dearly! It felt lovely to catch up on their life and talk about my trip highlights. My mind was able to be distracted from my PTD and look forward to my upcoming trips.

  • Catch up on your ratchet shows and blogs: Sometimes the wifi sucks on your holiday, so take some time to catch up on your shows and celeb gossip. My guilty pleasure is Real Housewives of ATL and missing even one episode kills me, when I returned from Zanzibar I immediately curled up in my bed and caught up on the episodes I missed SN: Hasn’t Nene been certified crazy all this season!?

  • Get over jet lag: Pop some melatonin, take a hot bath, put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” do whatever you gotta do to fight the long sleepless nights! Adjusting from a dramatic time change can effect your mood and body. Jet lag can be a real damper on your sleep parade and mood! Try your best to get back on a normal sleep schedule.

  • Find new things to do in your hood: Just because you’re home doesn’t mean the adventure has to stop. Take this time to explore your city and find new things to do, create an itinerary to see your city as if you were a tourist. Try a new restaurant or brunch, see a Broadway play, sign up for a city tour, visit a new museum, take a cooking class and document every moment for the Gram! Living in Abu Dhabi, UAE the past 3 years, surprisingly i’ve never really taken the time to explore Abu Dhabi. Now that I have a couple of months till my next international trip ill explore my own backyard.

If you’ve tried all these methods and still feel post travel stress its time to reassess all aspects of your life! Holidays are extremely fun because they offer a break from a monotonous life, but if you're feeling horrible long term, being at work or at home, you may want to think about making changes to feel happier. Something in your life isn’t satisfying you the way you need and its keeping you from moving forward from your holiday and being happy. It could be your job, your relationships, where you’re living, your health etc. Take this time to find out what’s causing you to feel the way you do and start the journey to changing your life. Journaling, therapy or just talking with love ones can help you realize why you feel the way you do and help you get to the root of your PTD.