It is a few days to the end of your trip. You are already feeling nostalgic over the days or months you have spent discovering this new place. Accra, Tokyo and Stockholm were everything you wanted them to be. The people you met, the conversations you had, the things you saw were life changing. You are excited to come home and see how home has changed. You feel new and you are ready to go home and take on the world with a new perspective.
You take that flight and arrive home enthusiastic to see your friends and family and tell them all about your trip. Everything you’ve learnt, everything you’ve seen. You are ready to put your all in your work and still ‘live in the now’ as you did during your trip. You can’t help but add “when I was in Tokyo…” or “In Accra, I couldn’t believe that…” in most of your conversations for the first few weeks.
A few days/weeks/months pass and reality sets in. Everything is the same, your friends, family, job; but for some reason they feel foreign. You feel a change within you but everything around you is the same. Feelings of anxiety, loneliness, sadness, uncertainty and nervousness grip you and you are not really sure why. You can’t help but either yearn for the next trip or live your life either nostalgically thinking about your previous trip. Work no longer excites you, conversations are tough to have and life suddenly feels dull.
This is what Post Travel Depression (PTD) feels like. It can seriously affect your mental well-being and your relationships with people. One cause of PTD is the fact that travel is transformative. You feel different and go home where everything is exactly the same. It is hard to slow back into your old life as if nothing has changed but to you, EVERYTHING has changed.
PTD and Being African
I have personally experienced Post Travel Blues (I wouldn’t call it depression) as easing back to normal life is quite difficult. I start off excited and enthusiastic about being back, grabbing life by the horns and doing shit! Then a few weeks later reality sets in and everything is still the same and I slowly find myself reverting to my old habits as if nothing happened . To be honest, it’s one of the reasons I haven’t posted here for a while. There is also an unsettling feeling of disillusionment by everything. It takes a lot to ‘excite’ you.
Many people find it hard to talk about PTD/PTB as it seems like a bourgeois / privileged problem especially here in Africa. Depression as a whole already feels like an ‘un-African’ problem and adding that travelling aspect makes it worse. ‘Just suck it up and move on’. Your mentality on a lot of the ideals that are considered ‘African’ such as views on career, religion or sexuality may have changed and you may not exactly relate to your peers the way you used to. This feeling of alienation & loneliness could easily lead to depression.
We should be open enough to share these thoughts and become accepting of people of individuals suffering from PTD.
HELPFUL TIPS WHEN DEALING WITH PTD/PTB.
After some research, I have come up with a few tips that will help you with your PTD.
Talk to someone.
Share your feelings and experience with someone, especially if it’s someone who may have an inkling of what you are going through. They may have some helpful tips that will help you when dealing with PTD and sometimes just sharing helps.
Have some transition days
Once you come back, take some days to get re-acquainted with home life. Visit friends, unpack, rest and catch up with as much as you can.
Keep the ‘traveler mentality’
One of the reasons why you changed was because you exposed yourself to new experiences while away. Travellers are open and excited to try new things. Try something new at home, sign up for that class, try that new restaurant or simply take a new route to work. Open yourself up to new experiences and live in the now.
Take care of yourself.
Head to the gym, drink more water and eat healthier. This will do a lot to help you deal with PTD.
Some videos I like about PTD:
Kristen Sarah’s video
The Traveling Clat’s video.
Hope you liked this post. If you’d like someone to talk to about your PTD, you could always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a lovely week.