Travel babes of the world,
I’ve got a confession to make. After 7 months of traveling this year, to places like Georgetown, Malaysia and ancient cities like Tibet, I came back to New York City totally and completely burnt out.
I was reading your messages wanting to know more about when Women’s Travel Fest is in 2018 and how you can join a Damesly tour—but I was tired. Like really tired. Like, I can hardly get out of bed, get dressed and leave my apartment tired, let alone start planning a massive 3-day conference and put together week-long retreats.
The experiences I had abroad filled my heart and soul with passion and excitement, but when I came back to find my life exactly as I left it, all I felt was disheartened.
What’s the point of having amazing, life-changing experiences, if your real day-to-day life, doesn’t actually change at all?
I found myself questioning all of this, while nursing my tired feet that shuffled me through 42 cities and 11 countries in 7 months. And it sent me into a bummer of a brain spiral that had me questioning everything in my life–am I still passionate about the work I’ve been doing? Do I still want to even travel? Should I sell everything, move to a quiet town in Vermont and open up a bed and breakfast?
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
And this, my friends, is what we call the post-Travel Blues.
What are the Travel Blues?
Sometimes when you come off a really amazing, really inspiring, really life-changing trip, the thought of returning to your normal life seems impossible.
How can you fit right back into your old life when you’re stuffed with new knowledge, new friendships, new life views? How do you return to the job you don’t love, when you felt so free leaving it all behind just a few months ago? How can you do anything regularly again when you were hugging a god-damned panda a month ago?
Some people call it reverse culture-shock, some people call it travel burn out, or travel exhaustion. It’s being so used to eating with chopsticks that forks just look sad. It’s feeling totally in your element on the road, and then coming back to a gray New York sky that bums you the fuck out.
But it’s not forever.
How to Beat the Travel Blues
I sat around feeling…weird… for a couple of weeks, more or less without even realizing it. But after I had some time to sleep, I started looking at the positives around me.
- Being with my amazing friends and roommates again.
- The availability of clean clothes and wifi.
- Peanut butter.
All of these things made me smile, despite the fact I was in my kitchen and not a mountain in the Himalayas.
Focus on the Good
If you can relate to this and you’ve ever felt the travel blues after a life-changing trip, start by really processing that adventure. Write about it in your journal, reflect upon it when you have some downtime. Sometimes when we’re traveling we just take things day by day and don’t fully absorb the experience. I spent an awful lot of time recently just writing about the things I did, just for me, so that I can remember them.
My travels this year weren’t for nothing: they got me out of my routine, they re-inspired me and they motivated me to do some other big things in my career. I’m happy to say I’m finally working on a book I’ve been putting off for a long, long time.
These are all good things!
Sure, I have to go back to my job to keep the wifi on, but, the tradeoff is I get to live a pretty stellar life that allows me a lot of flexibility.
Remember What Inspires You
What gets me out of bed in the morning is knowing that I’ve made a difference, and inspired another woman to realize her own strength and power, through travel.
For months I’ve been putting off the Women’s Travel Fest and the planning of it, because it seemed too big and too draining. And then one day last week I woke up, just so excited to start planning it again.
Sometimes we just need some time off.
This year will be our 5th Women’s Travel Fest conference, and likely our last, so I intend to do it up BIG. Ticket sales will start next week. 😉
What inspires you? What makes you feel like a total rockstar? Find the things that give you butterflies of excitement and nervousness, and follow them.
Push Yourself to Do Things That Feel Good
Like reconnecting with old friends. Like going to the gym, because that requires leaving the apartment, and that can feel really refreshing on its own. You can also try things like cooking more, and scheduling one-on-one nights with the people you care about that you haven’t seen in a while.
And when you feel up to it again:
Start Thinking About Traveling Again
I turned down a few trips for this winter, just because I was so burned out. But slowly but surely, I’m starting to feel the urge to head back to the airport. It began when I helped a friend plan out a trip to Costa Rica–her excitement alone made me want to travel again.
There are some really amazing transformations that happen to us when we completely change up our routine. And that’s what makes it all worth it, and why I’ll always be a traveler, one way or another.
Have you ever felt like this before? What sort of tips and tricks can you share? Let us know in the comments below!
Great article Kelly! It’s interesting that I rarely get the travel blues. I feel so exhausted but invigorated after a big trip. I get home and I tend to appreciate things so much more – I love sleeping in my bed, cuddling with my cat, having dinner with my parents, salsa dancing with friends, driving my car (and the list goes on). A month or so after the trip, I help make the experience linger a bit by editing all my photos and then making photo books on Shutterfly (-: I’m sad to hear that this coming year may be the last Women’s Travel Fest but I’m sure you have big ideas and projects in the works for the future. Can’t wait to buy your book!
Travel blues are real!! I just returned from a four month trip and while I am super inspired, I still feel disconnected from my life back home and that is a tough transition. Thanks for the article!
Thanks for this! I just returned from a four month trip, and while I feel inspired from my travels, it is also hard to get back to reality. I don’t fit as well in my old world and I have an daunting list of ideas and things I want to do. My plan is one day at a time. What can I bite off today? I appreciate your post!