Yes, you can overcome the travelling blues!

A pensive young woman in an orange sweater sits on the steps outside.

You’re in the midst of your long-dreamed-of adventure and everything is going amazingly well, then all of a sudden a wave of the blues overcomes you. Say hello to the famous traveling blues! There are actually two types of travelling blues: those that catch up to you far away from home, and the post-travel blues that hit you when you return to the humdrum home life you dreamed of escaping – and your first impulse may be to want to escape again.

In either case, discover a few tried-and-true ways to beat the travelling blues!

Shake off your travelling blues

Sure, it’s tough to picture how a traveller could get depressed while in the middle of a dream adventure, but the traveling blues is a common condition among backpackers and tourists the world over – especially during longer tips.

It may have something to do with the repetition of the usual travel conversation: “So where are you from? Where are you going? When did you get here?” Everything but “How are you doing?” This hits hardest when you’re travelling solo, far away from the family and friends who would normally ask you how you feel. Or the blues may wash over you because the shock of living among a new culture affects you more than you imagined it would. Or perhaps living in non-stop action/reaction mode in a foreign place is simply wearing you down.

All these elements can bring on the desire to binge-watch Netflix in bed, which is pretty much impossible for a budget backpacker far away from home. Here are a few things you can do instead.

Get into reading and writing

Bring along a good novel. When you enter a fictional world, you won’t notice time passing so much: a good book can be the vacation from your vacation that you need when you’re blue. Plus, once you’re done, you can exchange it for another book at the hostel.

Get yourself a nice pen and an attractive travel journal. Like a personal diary, it’s a way to keep track of your emotions as you encounter new experiences. It’s like writing what you would say to a close friend and confidant. And years later it will provide you with the opportunity to reminisce when you flip through its pages again.

Le bras d'une personne qui prend un livre d'une bibliothèque.

Before you set off on your adventure, practice being alone

Go to a restaurant and learn how to enjoy a meal alone. Take a little trip to a destination close to home. Or spend a week at home without going out with the friends or family you usually chill with. You’ll find how solitary life will affect you when you travel so that you can develop the tools to cope with it.

Plusieurs personnes autour d'une table qui mangent ensemble lors d'un souper communautaire à l'auberge Saintlo Montréal.

Remind yourself why you chose this mode of travel in the first place

When the blues overcome you, don’t hide from your emotions. Find a private place to take a break from travel chatter and remind yourself why you chose to set off travelling in the first place. What was your motivation? What were your dreams? Often all you need is a little time to reflect in order to reset your compass for your next destination!

Jump into activities with other travellers

Rest assured, you’re not the only traveller with the blues. Set yourself up to spend some deeper, quality time with other solo travellers who might be going through the same lull as you. Join up with a free tour, sign up for a cooking class in the local cuisine, take part in a cook-out in the hostel kitchen, or invite somebody out to socialize at a nearby bar. Socializing can often fill the emptiness inside. The blues may pass without you even noticing.

Téléphone cellulaire sur lequel on voit une personne qui Facetime.

Create moments of connection with people at home

If strangers just won’t cut it, book a chat when you have access to Wi-Fi or an SIM card. Check in with someone who truly cares about you, tell them how you feel, lend an ear in return, and enjoy the compassion of a comforting voice. Once you’ve recharged the batteries of your heart, set out replenished on the next phase of your adventure!

How to handle the post-travel blues

Every day of traveling overwhelms the senses. You live your best life at high-speed, then all of a sudden the momentum disappears. You find yourself back at home eating take-out poutine rather than cooking for yourself or filling up on your mother’s spaghetti sauce that you missed so much, and normal life hits you over the head. It’s totally normal to get depressed. Here are a few tips to handle the post-travel blues.

Prepare your landing before you take off

Before you lock the door and slip on your pack for adventure, organize the basics of your return. Leave your apartment well-organized—the bed made, your favourite coffee mug clean and ready in the cupboard—and make a little grocery list so that you can ask a loved one to do a little food shopping the day before you get back. If the blues hit you the first night or first morning at home, a little comfort food may do the trick. Also, are you sure want to return from your adventures in November? It helps to schedule the return to home and work at a time that you can look forward to, like spring.

Take the time for a smooth landing

Likewise, perhaps getting back home on a Sunday night so that you can go to work on Monday is not the best idea. Take the time to land gently. Book yourself a few days off at home so that you can settle in and get up to speed before re-entering the rat race.

Personne couchée dans un hamac à l'intérieur, avec un chien à côté.

Bring your destination home with you

You know those kitschy souvenirs you’ve seen in many a home looking out of place with the décor? In French, “souvenir” means “memory”. When you’re travelling, seek out the souvenirs that will keep the memories alive. They can be kitschy, or not: local herbs and spices so that you can cook up a memory at home, an item of local clothing so that you can slip into a happy memory when lounging on in the living room. Decorate your place with a souvenir or two that’s new to your home décor to give yourself a pleasant reminder when you come back from work.

deux personnes qui ont des tasses de cafés dans les mains.

Share your travel stories with the right listeners

Don’t stay at home alone and wallow in the blues. Go out and socialize but make sure to seek out the right people. Your friends who never travel anywhere other than sunny resorts in winter may not understand how much your adventures—or misadventures—taught you. Now is the time to have coffee with an acquaintance who loves to travel, or meet up with someone who’s visited the same places, and extend your trip by sharing it.

Go for little getaways and new experiences close to home

Who ever said you need to wait for your next vacation to have another adventure? Now that you’ve caught the travel bug, treat yourself to little getaways closer to home. Visit interesting sights in your neck of the woods, go to a popular tourist place nearby and bask again in the foreign accents. Keep the pleasure of discovering new places and people alive without breaking the bank.

Whether you’ve got the blues at home or on the road, don’t forget that they exist for a reason. You can’t run away from them, nor should you. By dealing with the travelling blues, you’ll get to know yourself better, your likes and dislikes, your travel preferences. And you’ll be better tooled up to take on the travelling blues during your the next trip!

Happy travels!