Travel Syndrome or Post Vacation Blues, What is It?

Travel syndrome or post vacation blues

Have you ever felt like you needed a vacation to get over your vacation? Coming home from a tour or a cruise can sometimes feel overwhelming. You can be left with a feeling of malaise, or even illness, that can make it challenging to get back to your everyday life. But when this happens, it is important to distinguish between real physical and mental ailments, and the natural sensations of coming back to earth with a bump after a truly wonderful experience.

Travel Syndrome?

‘Travel syndrome’ is the name often given to a poorly defined collection of symptoms that can be experienced upon return from travels. When trying to get to the bottom of what is really wrong, it is important to distinguish between physical maladies, and mental ones.

Travel truly can be a shock to the body and the mind. For the body, traveling through a range of time-zones can mess with our internal body clocks and leave us physically unwell. Tiredness, caused by long flights or long drives, for example, can wear down our physical resources, and the stress of travel – catching flights, making connections etc. – can also take its toll. No matter how much we enjoyed our vacation, getting there and back again can take a toll on our bodies. Sometimes, sitting for long periods on a flight for example, can also leave us aching or generally feeling sub-par.

But it is not the physical maladies that are the most insidious. It is important not to underestimate the psychological impact that travel can have. Of course, our mental well-being is linked to our physical health. But over and above the psychological strains of tiredness and stress, vacations can also impact our brain chemistry in a very real way.

A truly profound travel experience can make us think about the world in a very different way. It can influence our moods and ways of thinking in a range of profound and meaningful ways. Sometimes, our mental well-being can be affected by the sudden transition of coming back home and that can lead, in some cases, to a true mental break.

Post-Vacation Blues?

For most of us, however, the mental effect of travel is far less long-lasting and severe. Mostly, we are dealing not with a profound change to our ways of thinking or brain chemistry, but simply with post-vacation blues.

It is natural that we will feel a sense of disappointment when returning to the daily grind after a wonderful vacation. No matter how much we love our daily lives, it is natural that they might fail to live up to the dream-like reality of a good vacation.

On a vacation, we can be our best selves, free from the pressures, work and chores of ‘real’ life. Of course, a vacation is always going to be of limited duration. There is only so long that we can divorce ourselves from our obligations. It is only natural to feel a little despondent or depressed when we come back down to earth.

The good news is, for most of us, the feeling will fade, and in the meantime we can cheer ourselves up by planning our next adventures. 

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