Going from Nomad to Bored Mad – How to Beat the Post Travel Blues

For the last three months of my RTW trip, I had returned to Tanzania – a place I dearly love – but now it was time for me to say my goodbyes. And after almost ten months of being away, I had somehow managed to convince myself that I was ready to go home.

As much as I loved the freedom of being on the road, I was starting to crave some creature comforts  – my own bed in my own bedroom, warm showers, a normal flushing toilet, a wardrobe full of clean clothes, a fridge full of food, friends that I don’t have to say goodbye to time and time again. Hell, I was even looking forward to going back to work so I could earn some money and have some sort of routine! All in all, I was longing for a place I could call “home.”

Leaving Tanzania – my home away from home

At least that’s what my brain kept telling me so I could find some way to deal with the looming reality of leaving. But how wrong my brain was. Tanzania had been my “home” for a good part of my trip.

As soon as I checked in at the airport, I knew something in my head had changed. I wasn’t ready at all. And as I handed my passport over the counter, I felt an overwhelming urge to make a desperate run for the exit doors.

A young man was totally freaking out next to me because he had lost his passport, and instead of thinking “poor guy, that must really suck,” all I kept thinking was “I wish that was me” – problem solved – “sorry mum and dad, I won’t be coming home just yet, my passport seems to have gone AWOL. Oops!”

This is Tanzania
Throughout the flight, I wept, slept, and took full advantage of Kenya Airways’ free wine while rambling on to my concerned (slightly scared?!?) neighbours about my time in Tanzania.

Fifteen long hours later, as our plane started to descend over England, a horrible feeling started to stir in the pit of my stomach. I was finally home. SHIT!

As I made my way through arrivals, I kept telling myself to get my act together. I didn’t want my parents to see my like this. Muttering under my breath while probably looking like some deranged, sleep-deprived lunatic, I kept saying “come on Nikki…look happy….you ARE happy to be home…YOU…ARE…HAPPY!”

My dad was outside with a beaming smile waving me to come over; my mum was nowhere to be seen as she’d made a quick dash to the toilet in the hope she wouldn’t miss me. But by the time she returned, my face couldn’t hide how I was feeling anymore and the waterworks started all over again.

Going from Nomad to Bored Mad - How to Beat the Post Travel Blues

I was home. SHIT. What the hell do I do now?

A couple of months have passed now, and I am slowly starting to feel more settled. It’s been great catching up with friends and family and I was fortunate enough to get a job quite quickly which has been keeping me busy.

However I still find myself thinking about my travels every day. While most people probably won’t have a lot of sympathy for you when you tell them you’re experiencing a very severe case of “post-travel depression”, I’m here to say that I think I’ve shed my fair share of tears to tell you it’s real.

The following are probably the three biggest culprits in instigating the “travel blues” in my opinion – and here are some tips on how I tried to overcome them.

Boredom…

Going from Nomad to Bored Mad - How to Beat the Post Travel Blues

“Normal” life suddenly seems quite lacklustre when you compare it to the countless adventures you experienced as a nomad. No more adrenaline-fuelled activities, random night-outs with complete strangers, long journeys into the unknown, or spontaneous trips to off-the-beaten-track places.

While you’ve been longing to catch up on all your favourite shows, the idea of vegetating in front of the TV for the evening now gives you a nervous twitch. You feel guilty for not being outside seeing the world.

Not only that, if like me, you have temporarily moved back in with the parents, you can start to feel a little isolated as not being constantly surrounded by a hoard of backpackers suddenly feels very strange.

The trick is to keep yourself busy. Find a new hobby and surround yourself with friends. I’m sure they’ve missed you like crazy and you’ve probably accumulated a good few hours of air time to catch-up on what happened while you were away and tell tales of your adventures before they get bored.

The worst thing you can do right now is fill those boredom gaps by wallowing in self-pity, looking through your travel pics wishing you were still there. Remember that what makes travel so special is that it is out of the ordinary and different to everyday life. While easier said than done, approaching your life at home with the same sense of adventure can make it feel a lot more interesting on a day-to-day basis.

Money (or lack of)

Going from Nomad to Bored Mad - How to Beat the Post Travel Blues

Most backpackers come home with very little to their name, or maybe even some debt. In my case, this was particularly true (£4,000 worth to be precise!) and it can be difficult to deal with when returning home to no job.

Everyone needs money for their basic needs and a lack of cash can also make you feel a certain loss of independence. This is not an easy change, particularly when travel gives you such a huge sense of freedom.

Ok, so I was quite fortunate in the sense that I managed to find a job quite quickly and my parents took me in, giving me a roof over my head, an ample supply of wine (and food!). With their support, I’m slowly, slowly managing to pay off that credit card and get back on track. But what made this transition slightly easier, was having a plan. About a month or so before coming home I started applying for jobs, and by the time I left, I had three interviews lined up.

Of course interviews are always an anxious experience, and there’s the added concern of how your potential future employee may view the gap on your CV (if, like me, you took a career break). The truth is, whether you were on a gap year or a career break, most employees generally see long-term travel as a positive thing (as long as you’re not gallivanting off every six months of course!).

The important thing is to get across that you weren’t just on your jollies for months and months on end, but relay what you wanted to gain from the experience and how the life skills you learnt while away can be applied to the role (if getting drunk every night of the week was your plan, then maybe you need rethink a few things!).

Wanderlust Syndrome

Going from Nomad to Bored Mad - How to Beat the Post Travel Blues

Also known as the “Travel Bug”. Now this isn’t something that is particularly new to me having been on a few backpacking trips. But what I have found this time around, is that the level at which you experience it, can often equate to the length of time you have been away. For me, it seems like the longer you are away from home, the harder it is to know what your idea of “home” is and this only fuels your ever-growing desire to wander even more. As much as I love my life, my friends and my family here in England, I can’t seem to shake the feeling of wanting to be elsewhere.

But experiencing this is no bad thing in my eyes. It gives you that hunger to see more of the world, and this can only be a good thing. So get planning that next trip, whether it’s a weekend city break in your home country, a two week holiday somewhere exotic, or another year hopping across continents. So what if you’ve only just got back and won’t be able to take off again until next year?? Don’t just sit there daydreaming of faraway places. If you really, really want it, then make these dreams a reality! Having something else to look forward to will make it a lot easier to deal with this terrible, terrible “condition” 😉

Have you ever experienced the post-travel blues? What are your tips for dealing with it? 

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58 Comments

  • Reply
    aneuwirth
    September 15, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Awesome description of the pain one goes through when we return “home”- thanks for sharing! I can’t believe how brave you were for travelling as long as you did- what do you plan to do next?

    • Reply
      Nikki
      September 15, 2015 at 10:11 pm

      Thanks! I’ve got a few short trips up my sleeve to keep the travel bug at bay…next one is hopefully Barcelona 🙂

  • Reply
    fromsomewherewithlovex
    September 16, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Great map – my Tanzania visiting daughter has the same one! Life is short; speaking as one who probably has less left than I’ve had already I’d say keep planning and keep doing what you want to do; not what other people think you should do 🙂

    • Reply
      Nikki
      September 16, 2015 at 7:35 pm

      Thank you! I fully intend to 🙂

  • Reply
    Brenda
    September 17, 2015 at 7:58 am

    If you choose to stay for a time in foreign places, you choose to risk leaving a part of yourself behind you. I identify with not knowing where you truly want to be. When I leave my home, I feel bereft for the family and my bed; when I leave Sri Lanka I can’t stop thinking about the beautiful places and people. I’m lucky, I get to back every year.

  • Reply
    Raimond Mülstroh
    September 24, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Tanzanian noodles must be the best. Home is where your heart is. Put your head on the pillow of love. Home must be loved to make it a home and if you are craving for it, you know where you belong to.

  • Reply
    agirlandherpassport
    September 28, 2015 at 7:50 am

    I had that feeling when I left the Turks and Caicos and I cry when I have to leave my vacation there. I am sure I will feel that way about Qatar when I finally have to leave. As you know, it gets better!

  • Reply
    Daphne
    October 11, 2015 at 7:03 am

    Hey Noodles! Thank you very, very much for this post. I really appreciated it…for reasons that I cannot quite disclose now (since I haven’t even told my family yet!), but you can guess what it probably has to do with. I will refer to this post in the near future.

  • Reply
    Daphne
    October 11, 2015 at 7:07 am

    Also, I recently visited another person’s travel blog (a couple, actually) and felt inspired by something they mentioned in their “About” section that said something like: “We don’t have to travel to far, foreign places to experience new, beautiful things. Each time we step out the door is an adventure.” And I really liked that!

    • Reply
      Nikki
      October 11, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks for sharing Daphne, and best of luck with whatever it is you hope to do next 😉

  • Reply
    Samantha Anthony
    October 12, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    So so true!! I’ve always found a way to travel during the summer but last year I lived abroad and traveled for 5 months after and it was the best experiences of my life. One year later and I’m still nostalgic every day for my life on the road, but as you say, I’m working towards the next adventure now =)

    • Reply
      Nikki
      October 12, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      Haha thanks! Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get over it! What plans do you have next?

      • Reply
        Samantha Anthony
        October 12, 2015 at 9:46 pm

        Hopefully doing a long term workaway gig in the US before hopping on a place to somewhere I don’t know yet =)

        • Reply
          Nikki
          October 12, 2015 at 9:48 pm

          Sounds very exciting! Look forward to seeing your updates 🙂

  • Reply
    Sonja
    November 4, 2015 at 4:20 am

    I can so relate to this!!! I found once I had to come back keeping myself busy was the key. Planning little adventures and mini wins, and having LOTS of distractions! I threw myself into study, and creating the blog I had wanted to for a long time. So let’s hope this time the travel blues have been the kickstart of something great 🙂

    • Reply
      whereisnoodles
      November 4, 2015 at 7:13 am

      I totally agree Sonja! This is how I am spending most of my time at present and it seems to be keeping me sane 😉

  • Reply
    heartshapedbackpack
    November 9, 2015 at 4:39 am

    Loved the post. We have 25 days left of our 8 month travels and reading this really helped! We will make the most of every one of those 25 days and I’m already thinking of mini breaks and trips for the new year and how to save for the next big one! X

  • Reply
    Cathy
    December 3, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    I think Tanzania gets inside you, I miss it so much too! I was only there 2 weeks and I can see how easy it would be there to be there months! I have not traveled for more than a couple of months, I look forward to it! One day when my kids are older I hope to travel around the world.
    Nice to know I’m not alone feeling bored and missing the adventure. I need the next adventure soon!

  • Reply
    Toni
    December 3, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    I find sightseeing around Melbourne is good. It makes me feel like a traveler in my home city when i have no overseas plans. Though i just went to NZ so got it outta my system for awhile more haha.

    • Reply
      whereisnoodles
      December 4, 2015 at 7:41 am

      Aw Melbourne is awesome! I am planning a few weekend trips in Europe to keep the travel bug at bay!

  • Reply
    Taylor
    December 4, 2015 at 6:01 am

    Post travel depression is the worst! I definitely suffered from it and found myself looking at all the pictures from my trip for months. I picked up as many hours at work as I could, went on some smaller trips, and hung out with friends as much as I could. But once my work hours started to get really low I was extremely bored and found myself only thinking of travel! I threw myself into working out, meditation, and yoga until I had enough money to hit the road again!

  • Reply
    Julie Gaza
    December 28, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    This exactly what I’ve been going through! So glad I’m not crazy! Thanks so much for sharing. I literally wept, cried when I got back from my trip. I’m still trying to adjust.

  • Reply
    Joe
    January 24, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    Nice post Nikki 🙂 My trick is to work myself up in to a mini-frenzy about all the things I miss about home a couple of days before I’m due to head back, and then throw myself in to them. Then, by the time that has petered out, I do as you do and get on with planning that next trip 🙂

  • Reply
    Ruben Arribas
    January 26, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Great post, it’s totally true!

    When I’m back for a long trip, I try to keep my mind busy reading and doing sport. If not, I would stay the whole day looking maps and guides for traveling again.

    The best advice, it’s starting traveling as soon as possible 🙂

  • Reply
    Nikita
    January 26, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I relate so much to the “Act happy at the arrival gates!” panic. Often just because I’m tired and overwhelmed by emotions. And even worse than wanting to lost my passport, I once found myself wishing that my plane would crash in the ocean somewhere, because at least then my life would continue being an adventure! Good tips though, and home does have its perks! Just sometimes gets clouded out in memories of travel freedom…

    • Reply
      whereisnoodles
      January 27, 2016 at 10:16 pm

      Definitely know the clouded feeling! Haha thanks Nikita!

  • Reply
    Marta
    January 26, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    😀 I can never make my mind what I really want – when I come back my feet start itching right away but the moment I hit the road my mind fills with ideas how to organize my professional life 🙂

  • Reply
    Marta
    January 26, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    😀 I can never make up my mind what I really want – when I come back my feet start itching right away but the moment I hit the road my mind fills with ideas how to organize my professional life 🙂

  • Reply
    Kaley
    January 27, 2016 at 2:16 am

    I loved home after living abroad for years and the lack of money, job, and things to do is killing me. It’s hard to be content in a place you’ve spent the majority of your life when there is so much out there you’ve yet to experience!

  • Reply
    Ashley
    January 27, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    This hit home for me! I came home from a 2 month adventure and instantly felt like I didn’t belong, like I was in the wrong place and no-one understood how I had changed! Big transition, and now 3 month later, I have remained changed but now more focused on new goals that have stemmed from my travels 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda Williams
    January 27, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    Love your insight in this post. But part time travel can be pretty awesome too 🙂

    • Reply
      whereisnoodles
      January 27, 2016 at 10:14 pm

      Thanks Amanda! You’re right! And I’m trying to squeeze in the odd trip in here and there.

  • Reply
    Jessica Kathryn Walrack
    January 27, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    Thanks for sharing this important part of traveling. I have yet to stop yet, but sometimes I lose the excitement and boredom grows when I stay one place too long. I found your encouragement inspiring and appreciate your advice for getting back into the groove of a “home” life. Great post!

    • Reply
      whereisnoodles
      January 27, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      Thanks Jessica! Six months on and it’s still a transition. But getting there! I’m sure I have a few more adventures left in me yet!

  • Reply
    Ashleigh
    January 27, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    Amazing tips & totally how I felt every time before I quit my corporate job 🙂 Glad to know I’m not the only one!

  • Reply
    Naomi
    January 27, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    I’m always soooo guilty for returning home. Happy smiles to welcome me. And all I can do is cry. I don’t wanna beeeee heeereee boehoooo.. It’s the worst moment of coming home I guess. I think you’re managing quite well 🙂 heads of to you.

  • Reply
    Anne
    January 27, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    Omg, I feel you girl! Been there done that. I hate coming back, I’ve been calling it “homesick over travels”. It is literally the worst feeling ever! What I usually do is plan a few weekends away to ‘foreign’ countries (often just neighbouring European countries. Still kinda fixes the travel blues for a little bit!

  • Reply
    Laura | Collecting Labels
    January 27, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    Yes to all of this. This is exactly how I felt when I came back from traveling last year. I was living in Korea for a year, then I went traveling for six months. The last few days of my trip I’d convinced myself I was exhausted, that I NEEDED the break from traveling. I cried on the plane as we were taking off. The instant I got back to the US I felt all kinds of horrible anxiety. It’s so, so hard to try to remember all that you’ve seen and done and learned and try to then go back to living “normally”. It felt like I was turning my back and everything I’d come to believe. Still working on it and it’s been four months!

  • Reply
    Cat
    January 28, 2016 at 12:04 am

    Sound advice. This is something I definitely struggle with so it’s great to hear about some strategies for dealing with this ‘syndrome’.

  • Reply
    Lauren
    January 28, 2016 at 12:04 am

    Great post, I may have to go home soon after travelling for nearly 3 years, and I have no idea how I’m going to handle it! So thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    January 28, 2016 at 5:46 am

    I felt exactly the same when I came home from my 10 month sabbatical. For about 2 months I loved having some security in my life. After a while I started going stir crazy and I just needed to get away. A week in Poland cured me for some while but Wanderlust syndrome is hard to cure!
    I now live in Japan and have enough adventure and monotony to keep me sane!

  • Reply
    Gabi @ Books & Trips
    January 28, 2016 at 7:40 am

    This is great advice! I hate coming back from vacations, the only thing that keeps me sane is writing about them and planning my next ones!

  • Reply
    Susanna Kelly
    January 28, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Great post! It’s funny I’m not convinced that those “normal” toilets are the abnormal. The thing I struggle with most is coming home and trying to connect with friends and family. I change so much when I travel it’s hard to relate that to people who are still living their “normal” lives.

  • Reply
    Katie Featherstone
    January 28, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    I’m pretty much on the same page as you here. I have to say I am a little prone to wallowing in self pity, but then I remember that I’m being a spoilt brat! haha

  • Reply
    Shobha
    January 28, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    I’ve lived in London 17 years and I still get the blues when I return to England from the USA. I don’t have that when I return from anywhere else in the world. I’m always happier in England than on holiday. Maybe it’s because I see my family and friends in the US and it’s that sense of belonging and familiarity that stems from a happy childhood. A part of me always feels left behind.

  • Reply
    Ana
    January 29, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Ugh I know exactly how that feels. I studied abroad in Spain during Uni, and coming home back to uni was the worst adjustment ever for me. I think it took me really years to get over it and then when I had the chance, I moved back to Europe. Great post!

  • Reply
    Varun
    January 29, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Ya i screwed my semester coz of this. Even i get this feel everytime having the after vibes of travel and not wanting to attend my lectures 😛

  • Reply
    Ina
    January 29, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    I am usually too shy to comment but now I had to since I have a severe case of post-travel blues and the reason is the same as with you: Tanzania 😀 I spent there a month during a 2,5-month long trip last fall and fell in love with the country. To help with the post-travel blues I set up a travel blog where I can write about my experiences since I think my friends and family are getting bored with my stories…and I may have promised my cousin to travel with her in Central America for a couple of months this spring, oops! Thanks for an awesome post, it’s a relief to know that others feel this way too 🙂 safe travels in the future 🙂

    • Reply
      whereisnoodles
      January 29, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      Tanzania, what is it about that place?! It gets under peoples skin! Glad the post helped 🙂

  • Reply
    Bryan Richards
    January 30, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    I’m grounded right now with a newborn. Lucky, just the joy of his laughter helps me get over being at home. That doesn’t mean everyone should go out and have kids….

    I do feel jealousy reading other people’s blogs. I overcome it by planning how we plan to travel with our little tyke.

  • Reply
    ed
    February 3, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    A good read! Will have to come back and read it properly tho. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Sophie
    February 10, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    My bed! Yes, my bed is what I miss the most on this road.

  • Reply
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