How to Deal with Culture Shock after Traveling
Travel is medicine. It is indeed a high unlike any in the world. A single dose will spread throughout, detoxing your body and soul, making you dream, desire, appreciate and simply smile more.
But, there’s always an end to every high. There’s the end of an incredible journey, the long flight home, back to the “real world.” As you step off into your hometown airport, and that familiarity hits, an odd, uneasy feeling begins to settle in the pit of your stomach. It’s time for that transition back into life as you knew it before.
Post travel depression is a real thing, and sometimes, coming home is way harder than leaving. You left your cozy little nest and saw the world, met new people, got out of your comfort zone. You arrive back home to the same life you left behind, except now, you are a new person.
Getting back into the swing of things can feel strange at first. You might feel anxious, bored or as if you don’t quite fit in. Your thoughts keep racing back to all of the experiences and memories of your travels. It’s almost as if it were all a dream, right?
Then, there’s the jet lag, getting back into a routine and adjusting diet and exercise. Seeing friends and family, visiting the old haunts…it can be a bit overwhelming. But don’t stress, post travel weird is normal. You’ve just found your niche, and it’s not in one common place. Here are 6 tips for getting back into the swing of things.
Travel Bonds are the Bonds That Last
You just got finished backpacking for a few months through exotic lands, meeting up with like-minded fellow backpackers along the way. Although you’ve only known them for a few days or even hours, these people become more than mere travel companions—they become your family away from home.
You depend on each other to get from point A to point B and you go through thick and thin together. They see your worst at times and you see their worst at times—and you all accept it. Arriving back home after growing incredibly close with these special individuals can bring on a sadness—you miss them! Remember, not only did you meet incredible people, but the bonds formed are so strong that they last. Cherish the opportunity that brought you and these comrades together from all over the globe, and how they helped you grow as an individual and vice versa. Keep in touch and reach out to them—who knows, you may find yourself planning a future adventure with them!
Maybe you kept a travel journal on your wanderings. All because you are back home doesn’t mean it needs to stop. Revisit past entries and continue to express your feelings. You arrived back home, now what do you do? How do you feel? How has traveling changed your perspective on life now? It’s awesome to keep records of your adventures during the trip, but after the fact is when you really have more time to sit down and reflect on these memories and how they made you feel. Expressing yourself this way and is a wonderful and therapeutic way to soothe the post travel blues.
Once you get home, things can quickly get overwhelming. Your brain all of a sudden jolts from carefree days of travel to paying bills, getting back to work, waking up early for the gym….RELAX! Take a deep breath. One thing traveling can teach you is how to live in the present. This is the perfect time to put that notion to practice. Your bills and job were there when you left, and they’ll still be there today and tomorrow. I know it is easier said than done, but try to take each day at a time and slide back into a routine when you are ready.
Focus on your physical and mental state first…
Jet lag can really mess up your sleeping patterns. Take a few days to rest up after your trip. After traveling through foreign lands and living on trains, buses and airplanes—your immune system is going to need some TLC. Try some yoga or meditation to get back in sync with your mind and body, and keep to a healthy diet. You won’t be tired for long, and you’ll be able to think clearly, have more energy, and be ready to take on the world again.
Home is where the heart is
It’s easy to get addicted to the travel life, but family, friends and the the comforts of your hometown will always be a place to recharge and feel at ease. Once you’re back, spend extra time visiting with loved ones. Share stories, pictures and souvenirs. If you’re feeling blue, talk about it and let it out. They will be eager to see you and shower you with love! Take this time to let your close ones see how you’ve grown positively from your travels and let them help you transition back to the real world.
This doesn’t mean the life of adventure is over. Use this time to set new goals for yourself, with your job and your money. Maybe traveling helped you realize that the job you were in just wasn’t helping you grow as an individual, or it wasn’t making you happy. Maybe coming home has made you realize that the 9-5 work week isn’t for you, that you want to volunteer or teach english abroad instead. Maybe traveling has only made you more hungry for success, hungry for the next big trip. Set your sights on how you want to live your life and change it for a better you. The road is calling your name, and when you can focus on getting back to it, working diligently to feel that travel high again makes it worth it.
Courtney is a full-time writer covering soccer, travel and the outdoors. You can find her scouting out hole in the wall joints for the perfect carnitas taco, jumping in the ocean under the light of a full moon or exploring the beautiful Florida wilderness and documenting her adventures in her blog, www.localtravelgal.wordpress.com.