So, You’ve Returned Home After Traveling The World, Now What?

Belize Ocean

Deciding to quit your job, pack your bags, and say goodbye to a world that is so familiar may seem like the hard part about traveling.  At least, that’s what I thought.  Little did I know, returning home would be one of the most difficult experiences of my life.

I’ve been back in Canada for three months now since my nine month adventure through Europe, Asia and Africa.  By the end of the nine months, I felt that I was more than ready to return home.  I felt exhausted and excited to start a new direction in my life back in Canada.  The last couple of week of the traveling went by fast.   Before I knew it, I was on the last plane ride out of twelve headed back to Toronto.  Arriving in Toronto felt surreal.  Everything seemed so different, yet exactly the same.  Everything looked so modern and people were dressed so….non-travelerish.  Although, I do have to admit, I was extremely excited to open up my closet and see more than four shirts and two pairs of pants to choose from.  The first sleep in my own bed felt amazing!   It also felt very weird to wake up the next morning in a place that used to feel so comfortable.  Wasn’t I supposed to be waking up on a thin foamed mattress somewhere in India?  I definitely had a case of “where am I” syndrome.   It felt wonderful to blow-dry and straighten my hair (sorry boys, I’m know it’s hard for most of you to relate).  Putting on make-up is more of a horror story that ended with two very sore eyeballs.

Driving a car for the first time in nine months felt pretty foreign at first.  I thought that I would have forgotten what to do, but I guess it’s like riding a bicycle, and you never really forget.  It felt really comforting to not have to worry about my belongings being left in my hostel room while I went out for the day.  It also felt great not to have to carry around my sitar and two backpacks with me everywhere.

My first subway ride in Toronto was a wakeup call.  Every single person had their head down, strongly concentrated on their Black Berries and iPhones.  It made me feel very disconnected from everyone.  Where was the human interaction?  Where were the kind smiles and friendly hello’s I received in the countries I had just visited?

I felt really happy to see all my friends and family, but I couldn’t fight the feeling that I felt completely out of place.  I felt that I was out of my comfort zone, which is funny because wasn’t the place I grew up in for the past twenty-four years supposed to be my comfortable place?  It no longer felt that way for me.  I felt disconnected and confused about every aspect of my life.  I still continue to feel that way from time to time.

From the moment I arrived home up until this very day, I have been extremely busy with everything from moving back to Toronto, getting a job, working like a mad woman, taking acting courses, voice lessons and dance classes, going out with friends, visiting family, and the list goes on.  I have only had a hand full of days where I had nothing to do.  What a different from having no plans and priorities at all from the previous nine months.  This came to me as the biggest culture shock of all.

Over the past few months, I have had this horrible feeling inside of me that I have not been able to completely understand.  It’s a feeling of sadness, nervousness and uncertainty.  I have questioned and accused every aspect of my life for being the result of these feelings.  I thought that when I had finally blamed everything and everyone I could for these strange feeling, I would feel better.  The feelings continued to linger.  Every time I started to think about my trip or people asked about it, I didn’t want to talk about it because it made me feel bad, and I couldn’t figure out why.  Wasn’t I supposed to love talking about my experience in all the places I visited?  It wasn’t until one day when I was lying in bed crying that a special someone reminded me that I have been through a lot of changes in the last year and experienced more than most people do in a life-time.  He told me I should let that horrible feeling just be, accept it for what it is, and tell myself it’s okay to feel it.  Since hearing those words of advice, I have felt a lot better.

I have figured out that traveling, especially for an extended period of time, does something to you that you cannot prepare for.  It changes your views on all aspects of life.  You see everything in a new light and like it did for me, may come as a huge shock.  This new view on the world is not a bad thing, unless you take it that way, as I did at first.  It’s a very great thing.  Traveling opens up your eyes, mind, heart, and soul.  It changes your world forever.  In a way, it makes you feel like you are constantly traveling and that one place you call home, never really feels the same again.  It can be a lot more overwhelming then you expect.  That was the case for me.

Although it has been quite a struggle returning home, I am so glad that I decided to take nine months of my life to leave everything behind and travel the world.  Nine months isn’t really a lot time, but it changes your whole world.  To all of you who are thinking about taking a chance, to quit your job and just go out and explore this beautiful planet, I saw don’t question this impulse.  Pack your bags, grab your passport, get a ride to the airport, and just….go!  Don’t look back!  And when you return home, and you feel overwhelmed, just remember there are travelers out there who understand that you have just been through the biggest transformation of your life.

If you any of you who have just returned from a trip and have been feeling overwhelmed with emotions need to talk, don’t hesitate to contact me:


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  • I’ve recently come back from a 9-month RV trip across Canada and the US with my husband and three kids. I relate to this post sooo much. I’ve been down in the dumps since we came back, and there are so many reasons for it… I’ll write a post about it soon. Thanks for writing this and being real.

  • same thing happens to me at the moment.

    I‘ve been living abroad for the last 4 years and I came home a month ago.

    The first week after returning home was kind of nice because I saw all my friends and I was so happy to be surrounded by all the things I missed from my home

    But after about a week this feeling just changed completely and since then I just feel depressed and lonely. I tried to meet up with my friends and I started some hobbies again and just tried to keep myself busy but this feeling won‘‘t go away.

    I sort of knew that this post travel depression is a thing and I tried to prepare myself mentally for it but it hit me really hard.

    I am hoping that it won‘t last more then a few months but reading all those other comments from people going through the same makes me feel a little bit better because I know I am not alone with this and that this is completely normal.

    If someone wants to talk about it I am also happy to listen and share experiences 🙂

    • It’s so hard to come back after home . I have same feelings I travelled across my country and come back after 3 years . And now I live alone and life like sucks .

  • You got hit with “reverse culture shock” when you returned home after being away for so long in a different part of the world.

    Same thing happened to me after returning from months in Asia. I felt like I no longer belonged in my own country and city…. (Canada… like you)

    I’ve now done two trips there.. and have friends in Thailand and Cambodia now., and I became Theravada Buddhist.
    We keep in touch. I can’t wait to return to Cambodia and stay and live there… I belong back in south east Asia.

    Best wishes… safe flights… and happy travels..

  • I quit a good job where I was happy and treated well to study abroad for 10 months and have started to really regret it because I have been home since July and haven’t even got an interview because the job market is really bad here right now. I have been crying a lot but feel like I can’t tell anyone how I feel because I will sound ungrateful for the experience I had. I am terrified I will have to settle for any job I get offered and it might be worse than the one I had. I am regretting it all so badly right now and am worried I will be unemployed or have an awful job for longer than I was even abroad. And I found the experience of being there overrated after looking foward to it for so long. I wish I could take back my decision to give up the job and go, but it is too late now :(.

    • Hi Nat. I can understand the fear that you won’t find a job after coming back home. However, I’ve found from personal experience as well as many stories from countless others that their time abroad gave them even more opportunities and set them ahead of others who didn’t have the same experience that were applying for the same jobs. Things can take time. It’s important to be patient and enjoy the ride, even the lows. You will find a job that you love, you just need to be positive and keep trying.

    • My husband and I traveled to Positano, Italy and Fira, Greece for a total of 14 days. This was 2 years ago, and life hasn’t been the same for me since. Only 2 weeks of travel, and it was enough to make my ordinary life seem so irrelevant. I think the biggest issue with my own feelings is that I came back knowing it would be quite awhile before I could do it again. I have a 10 year old from a previous marriage and my husband and I want to have a baby soon. I’m 32, and realize that a few more years isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but I can’t shake the feeling that my life, my job, my home, they are all just a tiny fraction of a beautiful world I can’t explore for awhile. I don’t regret traveling, but I do wish I came back feeling more fulfilled rather than this huge gap I have felt since.

  • Hello author, I wanted to ask a question, on your return home did you have an idea as to how much money you wanted when you returned home, or was your mindset more like let’s see how far my money will go and exhaust nearly all of it?

  • Hello,

    My name is Sophie, I’ve been home (France) for a week and I feel horrible because I am not “happy” or “excited”.

    I quit my job as a lawyer December 2017 as I guess I wanted something more. I decided to go travel but most of all live a dream of going to Canada and have a totally different life. So I packed my bag, travelled in Cuba for a month and then got to Canada as a workaday and settled in a small horse farm in Ontario for 7months.

    It was a change of life but when I left even if the first few weeks were hard and even if I had down moments, I always felt like it was the right place to be.

    I was looking forward to go home and see my friends. But as soon as I took the plane back home, the excitement disappeared …I feel like a stranger.
    I am here but not here.
    I have no plans, don’t know exactly what I’m going to do next and I don’t have a home anymore.
    So went back to my parents in my home town where I haven’t lived for the last 10 years…I felt so sad. I thought going back to my town where I worked and where all my friends are would make me feel better but the truth is I don’t fit in there. I feel so disconnected from everything.
    What’s going on…?

    I thought I would be happy to get some comfort back, shower, nice bed, nice clothes…but I opened my closet and I was desperately looking for some comfy barn clothes..
    I feel like I don’t belong here anymore.

    I used to have a cat for 8 years she has been my baby…I left her to some friend to travel for 8 months and I was looking forward to get her back…she didn’t really recognized me and neither did I. Even my baby cat felt like something I had no more connexion with. That hurt so much.

    I have been so quiet, happy, relaxed travelling and now I’m back and I have no many questions in my head cos I feel so so strange.

    I never expected to feel that way. I just wanna go back to the barn I worked for the last 7 months

    Why do we feel this way? How should I cope with it?

    • Hey! I lived in NYC for 6 yrs and then Germany for 1.5 years and then returned back to my home country (sweden) I still feel super lost even though it has been 2 years. How has it been for you? Did you find the feeling of connection again? I would love to chat more if you do, you can e-mail me if you want 😀

  • I really needed to read this. I was only gone a week but it was such a huge accomplishment for me to face my fears and travel overseas by myself. It was terrifying and beautiful. Now that I am home, I have felt so very disconnected from everything. I don’t even know what to do about it. I know I’ve changed, even after a single week away, but I changed for the better and I’m worried that in doing so, I’m growing away from my friends and even my husband. I don’t know. I just really needed to read this tonight…

    • Hi Jess. Thank you for your courage to leave a comment. Travel is transformational. That’s just how it is, especially to people who are open to take it all in. It’s okay to feel disconnected from the people who mean the most to you. Don’t be scared by this. It’s normal and you will adjust. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt this way, and in the end I ALWAYS come out stronger and so do my most important relationships. It’s good to talk about how you’re feeling with your husband. It’s okay if he doesn’t completely understand just as long as he is there to listen and support you. Whenever we experience something new that opens our eyes a little differently, we are bound to change. There’s no running away from that. It may feel like shit now but it’s actually a blessing in disguise. You will see 🙂 If you scroll down on this post, you’ll see a pop up and if you leave your email, I’ll send you a recording that goes more into depth on Post Travel Depression that my husband Siya and I recorded. I think it will make you feel better 🙂

  • People suck, especially in the states, where self importance and lack of knowledge of the outside world plague the nation. Even some of the people that I do know that travel have no idea (mostly the folks that insist on traveling in Europe and Europe alone.). Some of it has to do with me and my inability to capture and offset my own self centeredness, but no matter how I try to re-frame, re-evaluate, and empathize….smh I can’t unlearn. What am I to do? Some people seriously look at me as if I’m strange, on recognizable, or in some cases, psycho (which can be comical), It utterly sucks to be looked at and feel that way by your own countryman, particularly when you’ve traveled and gone abroad to support, free, and advance out countries efforts. Such an unexpected consequence of travel and one that is impossible to revert from. To be made to feel like you don’t belong in our own home. It truly makes a grown man that previously couldn’t, shed a tear. //no choice but to press on and fight the good fight. Fuck the uneducated and the uninitiated is the only way I know how to get through this.

  • I just returned from a two month trip through Canada, literally six hours ago but as soon as I got out of the airport I felt so underwhelmed. I had been so excited to see Berlin again, but everything is the exact same. I also live with my family and suddenly I have to listen to five people at one time again and can’t just do whatever I want whenever I want. I’m so scared I’ll just fall back into the place I was in before my trip and not experience much at all. I’m scared I’ll continue wasting my life. It’s so hard to do things when you don’t have to.
    It’s ironic because I felt similarily terrible when I arrived in Toronto. I was scared as well and lacked motivation. Going away hurt and coming back also hurts. It’s quite annoying, really.

  • Returning home for me is always bittersweet, as you say. I feel like going away is always more exciting than coming home. Having gone abroad for extended periods of time more than once, I know that the happiness and excitement of the “return” is short-lived.

    • Definitely agree with all of the above. i’ve been on a few very short trips and just spend slightly over a week away from home. I went by myself and my partner was at home. i couldn’t wait to see him, now the novelty of being home has worn off, i feel out of place-everything is too neat, too ordered, too sterile. i feel like i changed so much while i was away, and the daily stuff is just depressing me.

  • I can relate so much to everthing that is being said, in the article as well as in the comments. I just came back from an unbelievable 8 months travel through Africa and being home feels so surreal, as previously described, my biggest fear is that „all the changes that I went through never happened“.

    However, the only solution that I can find in the comments is to just „keep on traveling“. I disagree with that, even though I will always continue to go on different travels. But in order to feel comfortable at your home, you just have to create a new world within your own home. Approach your home city the same way that you would approach a city that you come past whilst traveling. Go to places you have not been before, take classes or go the galleries that you have not been before. Maybe find a new job, new people, that you can relate with more.

    It is incredibly difficult for me to be back home again and to realize that my once loved city and friends dont mean the same to me anymore. But face those fears. Changes are a good thing, not a bad thing. It just means that you have outgrown that space and that now it is time for new places and new people. However, realize that you can find that in your hometown, it is just about the way you approach it. Don‘t fall back into your old ways of living but go and approach the problem with a straight back, do new and exciting things that you have not done before. Because then, you will discover a new world that might suit you better.

    • This the most pragmatic perspective I’ve read so far ! Appreciate your input! Would you have suggestions of books or sources that expands on this perspective ??

  • I’ve just returned home (Toronto, Canada) from a year and a half trip to Australia. It was such an amazing experience! I’ve now been home for about two weeks and I’m feeling very down. My home ins’t want you can call normal. My mom has bi-polar depression and she lives with my grandma who is very nice, but she can also be very negative (complains about everything and also babies me with silly question you would normally ask a child). I don’t have a lot of money right now from all my travels, so it would be very hard to move out but I need to escape my home. I feel as if all I had experienced in Australia, all the changes I went through, never happened. I feel like no one understands me,and I don’t like talking to people about my travels because a) it makes me feel sad b) no one really cares or is interested in hearing about it. I’ve always been a good listener and when I ask people about what they have been up to since I’ve been gone, they talk about it and I listen intently with no judgement, but when it comes to my turn to talk about what I have been up to and what I had been doing the past year and a half in Australia, most people just half listen and don’t want to hear about it. I really miss all my travel friends because they really are all good listeners and generally less judgmental people. I know my first step is to move out of the house, but does anyone have any advice that I could use? Maybe you have or are experiencing something similar and have some tips on how to cope? I would really love that right now! 😉 It also feels good talking about this as well. Thanks so much for this article! All the best to everyone struggling!

    • Hi Patrick~
      Wow, what an amazing time you must have had down Under!
      A year ago today my daughter and I left on a month long trip to Europe and Greece, so I’m feeling very bittersweet. I know I’ll never have the funds to embark on another grand adventure.
      When I returned home from our trip, everything about home seemed very surreal. I couldn’t even drink American coffee ~ it just tasted horrible! I cashed in my remaining euros and bought an expensive cappuccino maker and some Italian coffee, but I still haven’t been able to find an acceptable croissant!
      I was very depressed for a good few months after my return home. I too missed the enthusiasm of my fellow travelers, and the interest we shared about hearing each other’s stories. I missed the good-natured bantering amongst our hostel mates, and the general air of friendliness and conviviality in the hostels. I missed the food soooo much (still do!), the museums, the art, and swimming in cool turquoise waters. I missed just about everything, to be frank.
      No one I know was interested in hearing about my adventures. In fact, only one person even asked to see my pictures. It was such a letdown.
      But, take hear! Things will get better. You’ll start feeling more comfortable in your home environment before too long has passed. Try to remember the things you loved and appreciated about home. Try not to get too caught up in the major bummer that being home feels like. Eventually it will all come right.

    • Thanks for the posts! I am one week back from a year long trip with my wife and two daughters aged 9 & 12. We traveled to Europe, Singapore, New Zealand and Japan. It was an amazing experience. I was not prepared for the depression I’m feeling now, something that started before the end of the trip. I can only describe it as grieving process. It is as if we truly did live a lifetime in that year and now it’s gone. I know it is a gift to see your whole life’s issues laid before you unencumbered by everyday living, but wow it is a tough feeling to know that I can never live in the sweet innocence of denial again! The real question becomes what to do with this self knowledge? I suppose it will take time to figure out. I’d love to hear any folks out there who may have gone through a career change or at least major revision as a part of this process? As well anyone looking for tips on traveling as a family….

    • This is exactly how I feel after a year long trip to Australia and SE Asia. Has anything changed for you since making this post?

  • I’m so glad I found this post. I’ve been home since end of September, I’m 19 and I came from 4 months of working at an American summer camp and travelling for 4 weeks around America after. Since I’ve come back I had to go straight back to uni within days and move back in with my parents. I’m constantly looking back at pictures to the point where I feel I have to stop myself. I feel disconnected from some friends, family and this sounds really silly that I’ve had an amazing summer, met some amazing people and I’ve almost come back like I’m depressed. I’m really struggling still to settle in, the only thing that keeps me going is the plans of going back next year. But this scares me again as I don’t want to go and experience this again after. Do you have any advice as to how you overcame this? Its really comforting to see that I’m not the only one, as I’m scared to even ask my travel friends if they feel the same as people “appear” to go on with life.

    • Hi all,

      Wow. We (our family of 4, 2 boys 10 and 12 now and my husband) are leaving in may to sail through europe and across the atlantic then caribbean, then back home to CA if we get a job again, or NC? or where we find a job? Scary on many levels. Especially with kids. Depression was NOT one of the things I considered, but i remember it happened to me when i was single and travelled awhile in europe. I’m more concerned about my kids!! How will this affect them??? Any families out there to help advise me??

      thank you so much!!

    • I just returned from 9 months of traveling across the world with my family. We returned just after Thanksgiving and thankfully the holiday season was filled with so many activities, the initial transition home wasn’t too bad. It is now almost the end of February, and I am now feeling the let down of being home and back to normal life. I am so grateful that we did what we did, but now what? I want to take what we have done and turn it into something tangible….. and I am not talking about my four photo albums or framed push pin world map that is hanging on my wall…… do I have what it takes to write a book or start a blog? Do I really have a story to tell that goes beyond my immediate family and friends?

  • The biggest fear of it all is quitting your job. How could you enjoy your travels knowing there is no consistent income. That is not as bad as coming back from long travels with no job to fall on to. This is probably the biggest thing that holds everyone back. Its a hurdle not many can leap which is why some choose to stay in the matrix. Not trying to downplay anything I think it takes courage to step out in the world and make that big risks.

    • People are scared of the unknown. I completely understand. But if you’re not living the life you dream of, whats the point of any of this? We need to take risks in order to live our best lives. Jobs will come and go. What if you said no to the chance to travel the world because you were scared of leaving your job and then instead you got laid off? You really don’t have control over that but you have control over your decisions. If you want to travel, I say do it. I’ve never met anyone who regretted it and couldn’t find a job afterwards. In fact, leaving one job to travel has led to even more incredible job opportunities. Employers love people who have worldy experiences and views.

  • You took the words out of my mouth.
    I’ve been back home in Switzerland just under two months and every day I feel less and less connected to my surroundings. It’s been hard to adjust back home and also grew appart from most of my friends here. So I’ve only got my parents and maybe 1-2 friends. The rest are all abroad. At home it’s a feeling of being lonely…
    Finding it hard to make friends here, when abroad it was so natural and easy…
    I’ve never felt so alone since a long time and just seeking good friendships…

    • Hey,
      I know your comment is two years old but I hope you’re going to read it. I’m back in switzerland now for 3days. I was travelling for 6 minths around Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. My hometown just feels weird to me, everybody is in a big rush and really nothing changed. It would be great to talk with you about our travels and how we are feeling in switzerland.

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  • I lived in Australia for 10 months and have been home for 2 years… Me and my boyfriend STILL have daily depression about being at home and we are saving to buy a house! I know deep down we want to still be out in Oz but our VISA expired. It’s just so hard to accept that this is it, travel is over, time to settle down in a country we don’t want to settle in,
    The reason we moved home is family, grandparents are getting old and everyone is having children so we want to be close to them but is that really worth us being secretly unhappy every day?

    No clue what to do but hoping someone is in the same situation. I hoped the feeling would have faded by now.

  • Hey Kristen,

    I am on the other end of this (I did my travel when I was younger so I do understand).

    My long term live in boyfriend left 3 months ago for his big trip. We both wanted to stay together and do long distance, meeting up at the halfway mark of 6 months.

    Well a month ago he said he needs to travel longer, maybe a year, and can’t be with me anymore, even though he loves me and sees us in the future, and has no intentions of any other women. I know it sounds cliche and I might sound stupid, but I genuinely believe him.

    Its been hurtful because I saw it as him not wanting to travel with me, or not wanting to be with me. When really its just about him, and his need to do this his way. A goal he wants to achieve.

    Reading this made me realise that even if we are meant to be when he comes home there will be a lot to work through between my forgiveness and his settling back into life.

    And thats if the travel doesn’t change his wants and dreams for life.

    The big bad unknowns of life. Trying to embrace the fear.

    • This may sound harsh but there’s no future for the two of you if he wants to go off on his own travelling for a year, you don’t think he’ll meet other girls along the way? You go into a totally different headspace when you’re travelling; no familiar routine to keep you in check, no calls to meet up after work, weekends together. Its also quite selfish of him to leave you so I would move on.

      • I beg to differ. Siya and I have done a lot of solo travel. I’ve gone off for months at a time and it made us stronger than ever. 13 years later, we are happy and more in love than ever. Having our independence and supporting each other to have our own adventures is what has made us so strong.

  • I love your blog words for words I felt the same way after coming back home from only doing three months in Southeast Asia things just felt depressing after coming back home it was like I left my whole life behind me. For the first few week back I kept telling myself what am I doing here it was like I dont even belong here, I kept having this feeling like I should of never came back here in the first place. My friends was all happy for me and all but they just couldn\’t understand me any more when you go to changes like that for just three months it really does something to you thats unexpalinable. I kept telling my friends I just wish they can man up and take that leap of faith one day and just get out there so they can understand where I\’m coming from, they sometime clown at me in a joking way when i start talking about my experince again, sounds like this ( oh there he goes with the overseas story ) I\’ve learn not to talk about my experince much any more, some time i just cant help it if something slips out LOL. To get my mind of things and my post trip depression I booked me a 5 day trip to Jamaica its like i needed that high again to be out there just wroundering around somewhere, I finally settle down from my depression after taking those 5 days i figured I just had to accpect it of being back to my normal life, I got alot of growth out of my three months journey and it made me realize change is not so bad when you disattach yourself from sorten things in life thats not important and adjust yourself to to whatever way of lifestyle of economy you are in you will be suprise to see how much you have accomplish. Its been three months since I\’ve been back home just been blogging and working doing alot of online researching preparing for my next chapter in life. Preparing for my next big journey away but this time I plan to be away for a very long time I have started my disatching process, I\’m selling off mostly everything to go live my dreams of just being out there again going through those funny and crazy sad changes again its like thats part of my life now i can\’t wait to get going again hopfully within the next couple of months.

    I\’m focusing on becoming a better travel blogger so i can continue on inspiring others to get out there and just live it up and don\’t look back. Any advice on a few topics i should blog about while I\’m back home preparing my self for this next chapter

    6 Countires in three months one was just a layover for 1 night

  • Kristen, I am so glad to have found your post. It marks a year today since I arrived back from a year away travelling (America, New Zealand and Fiji) and these last few months have been especially hard. Honestly I always thought people who said they were depressed just needed to pull themselves together but ever since returning everyday has felt harder each day with the feeling very lost and confused. On Saturday my partner found me in tears on my bed – I couldn’t explain why I was crying I just had this overwhelming feeling to and the sensation of feeling so lost is so hard and I am really struggling.
    The quote by one of the readers above rings so true – “Seeing the world and experiencing different places is a blessing and a curse in one as after doing it you will never be at home again”.
    Thank you for helping me to feel less alone at this time and that its not just me experiencing this – I am hoping soon I start to feel less weighted down and lost soon so I can try to be excited for plans for the future.

    • My partner and I have been home for 7 months after backpacking for just over 8 months. We feel the same. We\’re struggling to communicate with each other about how we feel and kind of feeding each others sadness at times. I\’ve decided today to try to tackle it and written and list of goals to try to give myself a sense of purposefulness that I\’ve lacked since we came home. It\’s my positivity list! I feel like I\’m grieving for the time that\’s now passed but I know that\’s it\’s the sense of freedom that is the biggest loss and that\’s what I\’m planning to address in my new reality- achieving a sense of freedom alongside working and trying to find a new home. There\’s so many positive things about being \”home\” even if it still feels unsettling and I know that with a bit of determination and creativity I can bring parts of my backpacking life in to my every day life to find a middle ground. It\’s achievable and I know I\’ll start feeling better and I\’m sure you will too. It\’s okay to feel sad about it but use those amazing experiences to make a better present 🙂
      Thanks for a brilliant post Kristen- it has been really uplifting.

      • Hi Becki,

        I just came back from a 3 month trip with my partner and we are both a bit lost…We’ve only been back about 2 weeks but I just wanted to know how your relationship was with your partner when you returned from travel?
        I believe we need a few more weeks to get used to each other in our new/old environment again and hopefully we can rebalance….but would be curious to see how other couple dealt with the post travel blues.

        • Thank you all so much for this. I thought I was going nuts….reading that others are having, and have had, the same thoughts and experience on returning home goes a long way to help me start feeling positive and energised again. Thanks!!
          My wife and I are 6 months back from a 2 year backpacking adventure. Everything about the whole 2 years was positive – in addition to the backpacking experience, we grew closer together (20 years married) and moved back into our home and my job was kept open for me – so I went straight back to my teaching job. What could be more ideal!! So why do I feel down !!
          I have no answers – not sure there are any…. I am 61 and 10 years ago I changed from the corporate world into teaching. That change is nothing compared to the change I am going through now. Maybe it is harder going back to the identical situation you leave? I don’t know. But reading all your comments has made me realise that is it not my job (or the kids  ) that are making me feel this way and the last thing I should do is make any hasty big decisions.
          Never felt depressed before in my life…..going to try and look at things a bit differently – like we did when we were travelling. See what is on my doorstep that I never noticed before??

  • I happened to google this problem and found your website… is a little comforting to see that it is normal that i feeling this way too!
    No one will understand how we feel when we are back to the same normal life we used to be.
    My first solo travel experience overseas for just one week and now I came back felt happy but also felt so ’empty’,
    At first i thought i am abnormal but then it seems to be the same for some!

  • You’ve summed up how I feel or have been feeling these last few months. I’ve also noticed you’re currently in the Dominican Republic and that’s where I spent a lot of my time over the last two years, as well as parts of Central America.
    I quit my corporate job back in 2014 and went travelling, using the DR as my base for travel. Through missing home and the feeling of guilt having not been around my family for a while (as we’re very close), I decided that maybe it was time to head home. I returned to the uk in Nov 2015 and as soon as I got home I had the usual family and friends welcome home, but after a few weeks I felt emptiness. As you mentioned, I felt like I didn’t belong here anymore and I yearned to get back on the road. I left again in Feb 2016 and stayed in the DR. I then found it hard to live a day to day life without some sort of week – when one is left with their thoughts for too long,
    It causes me anxiety. I then returned again to the UK this year in July 2016 and have that feeling again. I’m 26 and have just been offered a job in the corporate world in finance (what I was doing before) and I’m trying to convince myself that it’s the right thing to do, as eventually one needs to settle and do the house buying routine etc. However as things come along like buses, I also have been offered a teaching job in the DR that pays well for the cost of living there and I am
    Completely torn. Family is probably the hardest reason. You’re so right in that once you’ve done the travel and pulled yourself away from the standardised normality of life, mentally – there’s no going back. I’m sure after time one will feel the need to settle – however the thought of squeezing my travel into 5 weeks holiday a year just doesn’t do it for me. Thanks for your post – it helps me realise there are others out there feeling exactly the same!

  • I’ve spent around 5 years working in different countries and also travelling and feel the exact Same thing . You feel like something is missing at home like life is passing you by as day to day life is boring and mundane and you have seen and proved there is more then this . I have been back home now nearly 4 years which I done lots of holidays and seen lots of places in this time on shorter trips but in a few week I will be heading off to New Zealand on a one way ticket and a working holiday visa need to see a bit more Of the world . Seeing the world and experiencing different places is a blessing and a curse in one as after doing it you will never be at home again .

    • “Seeing the world and experiencing different places is a blessing and a curse in one as after doing it you will never be at home again .”

      I LOVE that sentence. You’re so right. Enjoy New Zealand!

  • Wow Kristen,

    this article and the comment section really helped me. I just finally came back to my college after a year of the most incredible travels of my life. A different world every two weeks. I am realizing that I have not properly reflected on this journey and that I really mourn the “loss” of my adventure. I talked to my psychologist this evening and was worried “why am I feeling this way?” “what is wrong with me?” I am almost scared to go to class or have a few hours of free time because I don’t even know what to do with myself. I lack excitement and thrill here in my old life and all I want is to travel the world again. Thank you for this article, I think it will aid me on getting back to a normal head space. Anyone else experience anxiety (feeling like you’re in a dream, rapid heart beat, panic attacks) after travelling? Please let me know.

    • Hi Sarah,

      Not only am I glad that you read this article and the comments and that they were able to help you in some way, but I’m also glad that you’re reaching out for help on here and with a psychologist. Trust me, we aren’t just “sooking” about our trip; we aren’t just complaining about a good time; we aren’t crazy for feeling this way.

      You’re not alone and you will start to feel better. Keep doing what you’re doing. It sounds like you’re taking steps in the right direction.

  • Hi Kristen!

    I just came back my trip from west coast for about 2 weeks.
    Right before my travel I quit my job, I was super excited my trip. I don’t need to worry about my work and just let my self who truly are.

    Trip was great. I was able to explorer so many places and met great people.

    Now I’m back to my country, have to find my job again. Take are of my bills..

    I was feeling so depressed that I’ve never felt before.
    Expecting coming back from trip makes my life much brighter.

    But truth was I just got depressed.

    So I was wondering any people might feel that same say I feel…
    I googled “After travel feel empty” and I came across your website.

    You felt exactly how I’m feeling now.
    And checked your IG and YouTube, you are keep going forward and have such a amazing life!

    I’m so glad I was able to find your article and such a amazing source for make my feeling better!

    Thank you for sharing. Now I don’t feel depressed as much as I was!

    • Hi Momoe!

      Thanks for your message and I’m glad you were able to find some kind of solidarity with me in how you felt after your trip. It can be really hard but I think the important thing to remember is that you did it! You had the trip – you successfully accomplished and experienced so many things and that’s amazing!

      I wish you all the best and thank you so much for following along!

  • Hi Kristin,

    I have a question for you and anyone that can help me. My BF has been away for the past 2 months working as a lead chef. He is coming back and he is having feelings of not wanting to come back. He has become distant from me and we don’t communicate as we did when he arrived. When he gets back what can I do on my end to ease his transition back and make him see what he has at home? I am worried we are headed to splitsville.

    • Hi Ana,

      Sorry I missed this comment! I’m not sure that the answer I’m going to give you is going to be what you want to hear. I think that everything happens for a reason. If you do split up, I truly believe that you have the power, courage, and strength to move on and be happy. I hope you see things this way as well.

      Best of luck with everything!

  • Hi Kirsten. Thanks for your awesome post. I can so totally relate to it, in fact it’s the true reason I ended up at this blog. Hopefully you have found some ways to deal with it. I am currently at that stage after my worldtrip now.
    Can’t wait to move again and start travelling again. Currently trying to figure out whether this has to due with the restlessness that comes along with settling in at home again, or the new element in myself that was discovered, that is always seeking to find new things, new places and new cultures.. Loved your post, thanks a lot! 🙂

  • Exactly how I feel. My husband and I lived in Italy for 5 years and now home in Michigan. I can totally relate how you said you have different views on everything now, how you miss the friendly hellos and smiling faces, and how you feel out of place with your own friends and family. Just feeling lost and I don’t know what I want to do with my life, who knew the hardest part was coming home. miss it everyday!

  • It nice to see that it’s not just me that feels the same after a great vacation!
    I’ve been traveling to London, Germany and Paris for 2 and half weeks and the feeling of emptiness never really left me and makes me felt depress.
    I miss traveling in London and Germany and Paris already!

    Sorry for all the mumbling, but I felt like really wanted to vent out somewhere. And great post BTW!

  • I just returned to the States after traveling for the summer. I am feeling majorly down coming back. In the past 5 months I have gone through a séparation/divorce, moved out of my house, got rid of most of my things and spent the summer traveling Europe. I didn't want to return as I have no idea what I want to do with my life now. It just feels à bit blank.

    • I can relate 100%. I feel lost after my stay in Costa Rica. I have an opportunity to buy the tiny hotel I stayed in. I want to so bad but I’m afraid to do it alone. Plus I would need to leave my son (15) with his dad and we have never lived apart.
      All I want to go is get back to the ocean.
      Feeling miserable in Toronto!

  • I think I’m experiencing it somewhat…not so much the talking bout the trip…I have been doing that. But getting back into the 9 to 5 job. There’s no doubt I been bitten by the travel bug, I look and think about travel constantly. And it’s not that I don’t like the job I have atm, its more like I don’t hate but not as into it as I used to be. I suppose it varies day to day, sometimes Im more into it than others. But I think of all the experiences I done through travelling and I know during that time I am really making the most of life and time, then comparing it to home being routine. But I also think, I like the idea of going to a home and also being with friends and family…like I have considered getting into the travel industry but I am unsure on that too because travelling or going on vacation for yourself is different to going away for work…and if you’re traveling all the time with work, it seems like it would be a different feeling when you are on holiday from that if that makes sense lol. I guess the novelty feeling or the excitement to go on holiday away would be different if that makes sense.

    • Great article and very relateable… I’ve spent the past 6 years with this constant thirst to get out and fear of getting stuck in a 9-5 routine. I did Southeast Asia a few years ago and it brings back memories.. These months I’m now doing my bachelor project on the topic of returning to “reality” which feels like a good way to cope with it.
      Keep sharing!

  • Hi. I ve lived abroad almost 1 year and a half and now, after 9 months "home" I m very sad. Many things are missing from my life and the people seems don't understand me. I came back because I really wanted to get a degree before travelling again and now I only feel stuck in this country with people that I can't understand anymore. I can't live like before. I need a life of travelling. I m studying in order to get easily a job in the NGO field. But it is so hard here!!
    Yet I m trying to get all the chances to go away again: I won an erasmus placement for 6 months and I m already counting all the months before leaving. But I m so sick about everything here…8 months looks too much to wait for!! ;( 8 months sound 8 worthless months before living again. how can I spend better at home my days?!

  • This is exactly how im feeling! I Just returned from 13months travelling Auz & Asia and I just can't seem to settle at all and feel completely weighed down by stuff and boring 9-5 life decisions that need to be made.. I would give anything to have a simple life again, just living out of my car with a handful of essentials. Knowing the hardest decision I would have to make in a day was where was I going to camp for the nite.

  • Been back for two months after 5years on the road, and can’t bring myself to getting a normal, sedentary job…
    And having to explain your feelings to your friends and family makes it all harder in a way.
    Great post by the way!


    • I feel exactly like this!!! I thought I was going crazy!! I got back from Thailand almost 2 months ago, & I can’t seem to back into the swing of things. I feel more confused than ever….

  • Great article. I am also experiencing a very strange feeling after 8 months around the world.. everything is so predictable now and life as a traveler seemed to have occurred in anotjer universe.

  • Been traveling for 3 years around the world and I've been now back for 6 month I still had this weird feeling from time to time … I've made so many freinds , and a lot of them are still travelling . it kills me everytime I see pictures of them on the road while im still trying to convienced my self it ws the right choice to come back …

  • I cannot agree more. My story is a bit different: I moved to Asia for one year and am preparing to return back home. On the one hand, I'm looking forward to see my friends and family again and reconnect to my roots, but in the other hand I'm not so looking forward to many of the points you've mentionened.

  • i've been on a 6 months trip with my bf, it has been the best and sometimes the worst but i just can't get back to normal life. Why do we have to be back to reality and maybe there is a way of not going back there and have a great adventurous life instead?

    • Of course! Life is one big adventure. It’s YOUR adventure and you can choose the way you live it. You can definitely find ways to continue travelling and working along the way as well. I say go for it!

  • Its funny but i have done a few trips over the last 20 years, but the last 2 i seem to be depressed after returning home. I have been to 39 countries and when i travel i meet new people, new experiences and i love it. i never think its better here than at home in the USA, just different. but this last trip was 16 countries in 2 months and i really feel down. i have been trough the nostalgic memories or trips and people i met and such. but its different this time. its wierd to me to read about post travel depression but maybe it finally hit me. i guess the solution is to go again. i care more about travel than the big house or career. anyhow, yep im gonna plan my next escape to the world. .

  • I spent a year in Australia working, travelling, and meeting amazing new people, I've been home a year, work full-time, and get to see my family everyday, but I still feel completely lost and its not getting esier… I was that lost that I went back to sydnry/Byron bay for 2 weeks (everyone said I was stupid travelling from the UK to Australia for 2 weeks but for me it felt so much more like home there…I'm still struggling being home, even though it's been a year since I came home from my year away and 3 months since my little trip, but my childhood home still feels nothing like home ☺

  • Hi,

    Great article and like lots of others, it has spoken to me very much. I’ve just returned to the UK after leaving my job in the teaching profession in June 2013 and spent the majority of the past fourteen months travelling across Europe where I did the Camino de Santiago last year, as well as visiting Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Thailand and Nepal. I returned a month ago to the UK from Sofia in Bulgaria where I was working for a while. Unfortunately the job didn’t work out and a really promising relationship ended in disappointment.

    I have returned to the UK “penniless, jobless and homeless” and am currently looking for a job staying with friends who have kindly me allowed me to stay with them whilst I get myself back on my feet financially etc.

    I put into google the question: “You’ve travelled the world what next?” and I was drawn to your article.

    I had an incredible time abroad and I agree with what the other contributors have said about their own traveling experience. It is life affirming and life defining. I know I’m not the same person as I was fourteen months ago.

    I have already decided not to return “home” but to relocate myself in a city forty miles away in York. I have been able to reconnect with my kids since my return which has been a positive but I’m still a little disorientated.

    I think my ‘wanderlust’ has gone but there are still places I will go and see but will probably do so as a ‘tourist’ as opposed to being a ‘traveller’…I’m sure you know the difference….

    Great website and wonderful article. I’m glad I came into contact with it…



    • Thank you, I have just returned from 3 months in Asia. While it doesn’t seem so long, as you say, it was enough to change my entire world.

      I spent 2 of those months teaching the most wonderful children I could have asked for. My daily routine consisted of; waking up, eating breakfast with friends, having genuine fun whilst teaching, then having beers on a balcony looking out onto the Thai sunset. Weekends consisted of trips to unknown places, or sitting on a beach doing nothing but appreciating life. Now, I’m teaching business English 1-1 with adult ‘clients,’ and my lesson planning is no longer about how I can make learning as enjoyable for my fun loving students, it’s now simply about how I can get through the day. It’s not me.

      I think my biggest adjustment has been having to deal with who I really am. Which is hard. My entire life I’ve considered myself to be someone who works well with routine. Since being abroad, I’ve realised that’s not actually me, and I’m finding it hard to incorporate these new found needs into my current life.

      It’s nice to know others feel this way, and it’s great to have some advice on how to deal with it. I guess the most important thing I have to realise, is that I wouldn’t have really got to know myself if I hadn’t gone. Despite not being able to fully fulfil my needs for adventure at the moment, I at least know what I need in my life, which is more than can be said for some. Before leaving I worried about work, savings and planning for the future. I planned my trip out in my head and imagined exactly how it would be. It was nothing like that, it was 100 times better. My trip made me realise that nothing in life can be predicted or really planned for. Things change, circumstances change, and life often just.. happens.

      If I hadn’t gone, I wouldn’t have this perspective on life at all. And if I hadn’t come back, I guess I wouldn’t have realised I actually gained it.

  • Wonderful entry – I have just come back from 9 months travelling and I feel so disconnected being back in London. The London that I loved before I left is not the same anymore. I can only see grumpy unhappy people and everyone seems to talk about (overpriced) mortgages, jobs they hate and lives full with stress. I have changed so much during the last 9 months and your entry on this blog will help making me feel a little less lonely in this feeling. Thank you!

  • I have just returned from Japan on Tuesday and I feel exactly the way you have described, thanks you have described it perfectly and I am glad its not just me =) Everything is different whilst being the still the same….

    • Hi Marc! I’m so glad you feel comfort in this post. I know how hard it is to go through post travel depression and feel alone and that something is wrong with you. You are not alone and it gets better. It just shows how powerful travel is. I am really hoping to get to Japan this year. It’s on my dream destination list.

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  • Enjoyed reading this post and felt I should share my experience as well. Over the past three years I’ve traveled to three different continents but only for a few days or weeks at a time. I’ve also explored country of residence (the USA) pretty intensely – again only for a few days or a week each time but covering most major attractions and cities. I was a late bloomer when it comes to traveling, it took me getting to age 32 before I went on these trips :(. I agree how travel totally changes your perspective and outlook on life. I feel I haven’t had the chance to explore even more for longer periods of time like most of you have, though (so envious :P). Hopefully I’ll to do so in the future 🙂 I read a book somewhere where the author who had just traveled the world over 3 years described what you are going through as post-periplus depression. I thought that was a great way to put it. You got hooked on the excitement, adventure and unpredictability that the travel experience offers. When you came back to your “old life” and its routines all that excitement and adventure was not as available as before and the reverse culture shock of finding things and people back home had changed somewhat while you were away (and so did you!) started to kick in Having been an immigrant who left his home country and never went back for 14 years, I had that same unsettling feeling when I went back home for the first time and found everything had changed, me especially! I was depressed for a week and that depression lingered on for years, it still gets to me to this day from time to time. I think it’s human nature to want things to stay the same but it never does. As a wise author once wrote, home is a location in time and since time is always moving and you are always being changed by your new experiences, the longer you stay away the more you find you can never really “go back.”  The best you can do is cope and try to adjust to the changes.

    • Thanks you for this message.  I really like that end quote.  I never thought that the “reverse culture shock” would effect me for so long.  I still feel it everyday, and I’ve been back for months now.  I heard that it takes twice as long as your trip was to actually start to feel “normal” again once you are home, but I don’t believe that.  How can you ever go back to how you used to be once you’ve experienced what you do when you travel.  I think the best way to deal with the depressing feelings is by talking to others who understand like yourself.  I’ve also joined Toronto Travel Massive which is a group of travel bloggers and travel enthusiasts who come together every month to talk travel and just hang out.  It’s wonderful.

    • Wonderful and inspiring post. I recently came back home to Canada from studying abroad for 3 months in England, and even from this short time, I have similar thoughts on how travelling has changed me. I’ve never travelled outside of North America so travelling has been really good for my own self-growth. I can relate to how you said you feel like you changed, while everyone else hasn’t. It’s a weird feeling – but I see this as an opportunity to pursue goals with a clearer mind and put what’s important to me in perspective.

  • Yep! Understand this all too well. There really needs to be more documentation about this condition as almost all travellers go through it but you don’t know that when you return home, so you feel so disconnected and almost depressed.

    For me it has taken 18 months to get my head around it. I’m still not completely there, but it has gotten easier. 

    • It gets easier but I still can’t wrap my head around it either.  It makes me feel like something is wrong with me.  It can be so difficult at times.

      • I’ve gone away on trips and feel the same. I got back from a trip for 7 weeks at the start of the year. I wanted to move and relocate after realising how much more of myself and the works I wanted to discover. Yet my family and some friends think there’s something wrong. That if you move abroad for a period, you’re running away. And there’s something wrong with you.
        I will move abroad one day, but since being back, you can’t help but feel ‘there’s got to be more than this. I’m so much more capable than the mundane routine brings here.’
        It can be very hard.

  • This is an awesome entry – and so true. I have felt exactly the same way. I came back from 6 months, felt horrible and left again after 3 months. Came back after another 4 months and am now leaving again for undecided … Hah! I wonder if and when I will ever feel ‘calm’ again, quieten the travel itch … 

    • I don’t think ever…to be honest.  But, it’s the best addiction you can ever have that’s for sure.  So, go explore the world, tell your stories and enjoy life to the fullest:)

  • This article is so true. I went traveling and never did manage to settle down back in to my “Home Town”. Eventually I couldn’t take it no more and I packed my bags and of I went. Eventually I settled in Chiang Mai. This is where I can live a very comfortable life and still enjoy the feeling of adventure every day.

    Now this is home and yes occasionally I do still have idea about traveling again. But this time I can just hope on the bus or ride my motor bike..

    • Thats so great!  I loved jumping on a moped and going on an adventure somewhere.  It gives you such a feeling of freedom.  I loved Chiang Mai.  What a great place to live.

  • You’re right, the biggest culture shock happens when you return home. It’s nice to have people around you who understand what it feels like to undergo a life changing experience.  


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