5 Ways To Deal with Post Travel Depression

Friday, November 25, 2011


Saying that we dreaded going back home after our 6-month Asian trip is a huge understatement.

A few weeks leading up to our return to the Philippines, both of us were constantly on the verge of panic, hysteria or tears or a combination of all of the above. It seemed like there was a huge dark cloud hovering over us while we were in Bali, Indonesia - our last country on this trip. Every adventure, every view, every butt-numbing bus ride, every bite of nasi goreng needed to be savored and relished. We spent those last few weeks like we were about to be guillotined to death.

Before we used to look at each other and say 'Damn, we're so lucky to be doing this teh!'. Now, we'd look at each other with dread and sadness in both our faces.

So yes, saying that we dreaded going back home is an understatement.

Depression vs Oppression . WDC . 20apr06
hoto Credit: ElvertBarnes
Post Travel Depression (PTD) normally occurs after returning home or to a normal routine from a long vacation, especially if it was a pleasurable one. The longer a trip lasts, the more intense the post travel depression may be. This is because the person would be longing for their travel experiences. PTD may result in tiredness, loss of appetite, strong feelings of nostalgia, and in some cases, depression.*

Most of us have succumbed to Post Travel Depression at one time or another. It doesn't matter how long your trip was, PTD does not discriminate. Whether you just came back from a 3-day beach holiday in Boracay or spending a week on one of the 4,000 islands of Si Phan Don in Laos, you would have felt PTD kick in upon your return.

Tiredness, Loss of Appetite - Check, check. Nostalgia and depression - check and check. Both of us showed severe signs of these symptoms when we returned home in August. It was frustrating - this need to be on the road again.

Instead of wallowing in our mutual depression and crying while constantly going over the 1,000++ photos we've taken over the past 6 months, we decided to fight against post travel depression. It was time to take control over our lives lest this depression thing would completely overcome us.

1 Share your Adventure
From Glampacker to Poorpacker
There are moments in our trip that we can't wait to tell everyone about once you get home. Like when we went in search of a hidden falls and a dog helped us find our way home or when you come upon a town that's so beautiful even the great Buddha smiled upon seeing it. You just can't wait to tell your friends and family about it! Sometimes, it isn't enough to show photos from the LCD of your camera. This is the rise of the digital age so go ahead and post photos from your trip on Facebook or Twitter.

Session 3 promo adIn our case, we decided to organize an event called "The Sole Sisters' Story: From Glampacker to Poorpacker", a travel photography exhibit that chronicles our 6 month backpacking trip in India and across Southeast Asia. Our aim for this project is simple: To share our stories and lessons learned on the road in the hope of encouraging more Filipinos to have itchy soles and travel the world! This event was the icing to the cake that was our 6-month Asian backpacking trip.

2 Learn a New Skill

Whitewater Kayaking in Tarlac2
Ever wanted to learn how to surf or ride a motorbike? What about trying out that new sport you've seen while in Thailand called Muay Thai?  Have you always wanted to speak another language fluently (which is part of our 30 before 30 list) but have never found the time? Or have you ever wanted to learn how to kayak through the whitewaters around San Jose, Tarlac?

You couldn't have picked a better time than after returning from your holiday to learn these skills.

Piggy savings bank
Photo Credit: alancleaver
3 Top Up Your Escape Fund

One thing is certain once you get back from your trip - your reserve account to fund your travels is now back to ZERO. Maybe it was all the shopping you did while on the road or the numerous bottles of Beerlao you've consumed, you will never really know how it happened. You're now back to square one.

Well, you better get those brain cells working and learn some new strategies to help replenish your travel fund. One of the crazy Chiang Mai Couchsurfers we met, Max, has been traveling around the world with his earnings from playing professional poker! Now before you head down to one one of the casinos in Las Vegas to win that motherload, you might want to try the online casinos first.

Be creative and think outside the box. Before you know it, you'll have enough money to be on the road once again.

4 Staycation
A first-time visit for both the Indo and the Pinay
To help cope with your PTD, you can have mini vacations within or around your city. Staycation, as what they are now called, is a vacation that is spent at one's home enjoying all that home and one's home environs have to offer.

After living in Manila for nearly 10 years, Lois has never been to the famous walled city of Manila, Intramuros. We were left wondering who was the tourist when our Indonesian friend, Harry asked her to take him the old Intramuros area. This is the perfect time to explore the city you live in!

5 Plan Your Next Adventure

This is not the end of your holiday or adventure. Think of this as more of a pitstop, a chance to replenish your travel fund and  to recover from that trip. Most importantly, this is the time to plan for your next holiday or your once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Get those guidebooks out and plan your next route. Learn from and gather travel inspiration from your favorite travel bloggers (Ahem, Sole Sisters, ahem). Create another vision board to visualize and realize your next crazy adventure.

We've traveled most of Asia by now yet we're still as hungry as when we first announced our decision to quit our job to travel.And as we carried our 45-liter backpacks on our shoulders for the last time on our fligth home to the Philippines, we both vowed that this wouldn't be the end of the road for the Sole Sisters. This wasn't going to be our last epic adventure.

For if you found a way to live your dream once, who's to say you can't do it several times over?

Have you found your own cure for Post Travel Depression? We'd love to hear them!

Fighting against PTD,
Sole Sister Chichi and Lois
If you liked this post - Like it, Tweet it, Stumble Upon it and let the world know by clicking the share buttons below. You'll be helping us fight the post-travel blues away.
Main photo credit: Carl Custodio
*Source: Wikipedia (What will we do without you?)

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43 sole trails

  1. i miss home during long trips... but i dread going back to work. LOL... i don't think i'll miss that one. hehe

  2. Haha, these are all so true! Post-travel, I like to bring home delicacies from where I've been and gorge on them while I edit the photos taken and reminisce. Then, of course, start planning the next trip! :)

  3. Who doesn't dread going back to work eh? Gah!

  4. Those are great way to beat those pesky PTDs Mel! We might need to add them on part 2 of this article ;)

  5. im in transit now... and depression is an understatement. your know what im saying girls! :-(

    ~your flip sister Ron

  6. Experienced this one after my 3 month UK trip. In denial ako for months na i'm back in my old room LOL. Until now, hindi pa rin ako bumalik sa 9 to 5 job. I am now planning my next travel adventure. :D

  7. Good thing I haven't experienced intense PTD yet, I miss everything about Pinas though -  friends, food, videoke and crazy holiday shoppping in Divisoria (depress mode ulit :) 

  8. i always try to battle it out... kelangan mag work after a travel eh... to save more money for the next adventure... hehehe! :)

  9. This post is dedicated to you Ronita, our flip sister. We know how intense the PTD is right now :(

  10. That's the way to go Mica! We also found that planning for your next adventure is the key to keeping the PTD blues away ;)

  11. We fear that what you have Claire is a serious case of homesickness, not PTD. No PTD yet because you're doing a hell of a job staycationing in AUS! Happy travels sister!

  12. Hey Mervs, it was really nice finally meeting you in Dumaguete! Tama ang strategy mo. Focus on saving up for the next escape!

  13. After my 5 week trip to Europe, I got so depressed I cried alone in my room. I suddenly missed all the food I ate (and the benches, gardens, and parks where I ate them) when I was there. Worse, I got to hate the system in Manila after I arrived. I hated the traffic, weather, food, everything. A day and a month after I arrived, I'm starting to adjust SLOWLY. I still don't go out that much though because I tell myself, "I've been to those beautiful places, why should I go around Manila?" (Another bad case of PTD) My hobby during my spare time is imaginary planning of trips and itineraries to Scandinavia, Western Europe or South America (I still don't know which I should go first) at the cheapest prices I can possibly get. I'm so in denial I kept thinking when my vacation in Manila is finally going to be over. Ugh!

  14. ahhhh...that is why I cannot write my reports after long travels! LOL!  I travel because of work (officially and R&R on the side) and more often than not, I had to force myself to write because of deadlines, especially that I have been on a two-week travel and only a day to change luggage and off I went!  I'd rather sleep and sulk the whole day after a long travel...I just learned now there is such a thing called PTD!  Thanks!

  15. Poor Manny, sounds like you had the severest form of PTD ;( But it also sounds like you're on your way to recovery. Keep planning those trips to make them real instead of imaginary ;)

  16. That's right Rain.

  17. Now that you know the symptoms of the PTD disease, I'm sure you can work your way around it Ding. P.S. Both sole sisters are jealous of a job that mixes work with travel, regardless if it comes with PTD ;)

  18. sounds so right. this is cool. learn a new skill seems to fit the most to me personally.

  19. Learning a new skill is great for distraction from PTD plus...you learn a new skill ;p

  20. Weeee! Thumbs up for this post :D I was actually thinking it's an abnormality to feel depressed after a long trip. :D

  21. Now you know you're not an abnormality Kresia. It plagues most of those who are also plagued by another travel disease called wanderlust. We're in great company!

  22. The longest I've traveled abroad continuously was 2 weeks, but I already felt PTD. Of course it ended quickly too :) I can;t imagine what I would feel if I travel 6 months like you did!

  23. We've found that the amount of time spent on the road is directly proportional to how long it takes to get over PTD. So yes Aleah, it was tough.

  24. Our employer gave us a force leave for 1 week. Though we even didnt have some time to have some break away and we just stayed at home for that 1 week vacation leave, when I returned to our office, I felt so lazy to go back to work. I think, this is also considered as a post travel / vacation depression. Loi.:-). I relate to this post.

  25. damn. now you've made me think of what i'm going to do after my trip. i am currently finding ways to extend it. i'm thinking PTD will hit me hard if i don't. haha.

  26. You're right Bonz, PTD can still occur even if you're staycationing. We've had bouts of those at one time or another.

  27. May the travel gods smile upon you and you find a way to extend your trip Paul! Gow grow and glow ;)

  28. i'm experiencing PTD now. Just got back from traveling with one of my closest friend and it feel sucks ! Now i need to divert and bore my self back to work :(

  29. i'm on my last leg of the Big Trip. i've been trying to not think about the fact that my flight back home is in two weeks. :( but yes, i'm already thinking of ways to add up to my travel/escape fund and is already planning for my next adventure, hopefully next year. 

    thanks so much Sole Sisters for writing this. super comforting lang.  :)

  30. "Top up your escape fund" goes for me!!! How many months pa kaya abutin for the next trip?lol... nice advice solesisters!!!

  31. So glad I stumbled upon your site Sole Sisters! 

    This past weeks I've been so lazy to do house chores, fed up meeting local people and yeah going to job! I don't usually cry during the night when I miss someone or whatever, but it seems that nights are so lonely here in Europe, ending my day without anything exciting happened, just totally crap! 

    You see, I just got from my 6-week vacation in Philippines last Nov. 2011, been to Cebu, Boracay, Iloilo and Bohol. Now it's already goin' 2 months since I arrived here in Europe but I think my suffering is getting worse! Help?My hubby wondered what's happening with me? And now finally I could give him the answer.. I'm definitely suffering from Post Travel Depression, confirmed! 

  32. Thanks for your insightful post, Sole Sisters! I can certainly relate to your post travel depression. I used to think it was just me, and the feelings of sadness and nostalgia for a place I had just left were abnormal. It's encouraging to read that other people go through the same as well! 

    Something that might help with this is mindfulness, the practice of observing and being aware of your thoughts and emotions in the moment without letting them overwhelm you or needing to take immediate action. There's a wonderful place in northern Thailand where you can rest and learn this practice, as well as spend time in introspection, that can be so valuable when you are traveling and once you go back home. It's called the New Life Foundation and it's just outside Chiang Rai. I've spent some time volunteering there and it's an amazing place. This is a low-cost facility so residents can stay for little money - no $7,000 a month stay here; it's quite inexpensive. While here, I've met some amazing people who have raved about the place. The foundation welcomes people who have suffered from depression, addiction, stress and burn out, or who just want to get in deeper touch with themselves. Even as a volunteer, I have learned a great deal about myself, how to be more mindful and how to be present and make the most of each moment. Now it's just a matter of putting it into practice when I leave here :) 

    I definitely encourage you, and anyone else who has dealt with any kind of depression or burn out, to check it out. Their website is: http://www.newlifethaifoundation.com/

  33. Thanks for sharing this Gracie! I know exactly how you feel. Hope you get over it soon. We did :) With more trips! Hope to travel with you in the Philippines in the future.

  34. I didn't know the name until I read your post about PTD. Yes, it is indeed frustrating knowing the fact that our trips come to an end. I experienced the same way after I finished my a month traveling to Asia, the worst thing was I didn't know how to get through it.

    By the way, it's a hello from Indonesia! we still have a lot to try aside those tempting nasi gorengs. Please come back again :)

  35. Great post. I get this all the time but the staycation and planning the next trip always gets me through. I never thought of the new skills but maybe I'll encorporate that into my next one.

  36. ive just done a month in the uk including a weekend in Europe and a few days in New York, and I suffer with PTD everytime I come back to Bermuda where I reside. I stop going out and turn into a recluse of my former self. it takes me days to re adjust at the expense of my business. the only way I get through it is by pushing myself. I miss people especially family. I return to Bermuda and im all alone. that's what sucks for me

  37. Love this. I suffer so badly when I get home and i feel awful as I have a wonderful base n England but nothing beats being on the road.

  38. your blog is amazing , thanks for sharing it with us

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