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I Went on a Trip and Now I'm Sad: Dealing with Post-Travel Depression

December 12, 2013 at 4:42 PM | by | Comments (0)

PTD: Post-Travel Depression. It's a thing, even if there's no entry for it on WebMD, and it sucks.

Returning home from a trip usually brings with it feelings of sadness and longing for the good times now over and far away, but PTD is a step further. There's only so many times you can look through your Instagram archive before you realize it's more than just longing to return. PTD is a bit like a deep hangover after your trip-long happiness binge, and effects may include stress, trouble sleeping, listlessness, and dejection in general.

We just experienced it ourselves after returning from three weeks in the sun and fun of Australia. It's a new feeling for us, since we essentially travel for a living and long ago become acclimated to the roller coaster of activity and emotion brought by frequent travel.

Earlier this year, NBC News concluded that post-travel depression is a myth, and they spoke with some officials and mental health experts who agreed:

It’s called 'contrast effect,' said Dr. Gerhard Strauss-Blasche from the University of Vienna’s Department of Physiology. 'Vacationers cease to be used to stress and thus react more strongly when confronted (with it) again.'

That's all well and good, except it doesn't apply to the truly frequent traveler, who doesn't experience any more stress at home as away from it. The case of "contrast effect" can thus only be applied to those who travel to "take a break" with the goal of doing very little, but face a return to a hectic job or lifestyle.

Regardless of what "professionals" think, we felt like crap for a full week and here's what we've done to get over it:

· Make plans
The key is to make as many plans for brunch, dinner, or after-work drinks with friends as your social stamina can handle, because inevitably they will all ask you to share stories from the trip and, inevitably, you will tire of retelling the stories. There's even the possibility that friends will be so enthralled with your tales that they'll want to make plans to travel with you in the future or recreate your trip, all excellent hopeful diversions.

· Cue up some good destination-based movies or TV
Sometimes you just have to give in to a good night in on the couch, or even a week of it. We've been ravishing the archives of HuluPlus and Netflix Instant to watch movies or TV shows filmed or based in Australia. It's not only helping, but opening up our eyes to excellent series we wouldn't have otherwise discovered.

· Book another trip
It doesn't have to be tomorrow, but planning a return to the destination or a journey to a new place restores some of the euphoria lost when a trip ends. In our case, a cheap weekend in Miami finally put us over the lethargy. Then, we booked another flight to Australia and, even though it's far in the future, the confirmed ticket solidified a return to happiness.

Care to share your own tips for beating PTD? Leave 'em in the comments!

[Photo: outoftown]

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