This is an article I submitted to Thought Catalog about a year ago. Thought I might as well put it up here. http://thoughtcatalog.com/erica-villas/2014/06/the-7-stages-of-post-travel-syndrome/
Traveling. The memories and experience are beyond what money can buy. But whether you do it grand or modestly, it has a price. Insect bites (in my case, an allergic reaction), jet lag, an empty wallet, and diarrhea are just some of the very many sad things that can happen when you step out of the plane (or in other people’s case, the night prior to their departure). But here’s a few things I’m certain about, in chronological order, that happen after the fun and games are over. Post-travel syndrome, if you may.
1. Reuniting with your life
Of course you feel so blessed and fortunate to have experienced such an adventure. Because of that, you now have a new perspective about life. It makes you feel so fortunate that you have a comfortable shelter to come home to. But after days or weeks in a hostel and a shared community bathroom, you are beyond grateful to finally be able to take a long, hot shower at the comfort of your own home. You take longer doing your business because you no longer have to squat, thanks to this magical apparatus called toilet seat. You look forward to catching up on sleep in your mosquito-free room and your comfortable bed. The little things about your mundane life suddenly isn’t so little anymore.
You rewarded yourself with a good night sleep and you woke up feeling rejuvenated. You woke up thinking, did all of that memories really just happened? Everything felt like a dream. Searching for validation that such escapade really took place, you poured yourself a cup of coffee and gathered up all your gadgets for proof. You’ve been waiting to look at all the pictures in big screen and high def and as you browse through them one by one, you start picking out which ones are potentially going on Facebook and Instagram. That doesn’t help you get over it so you call your mom to tell her about your trip, and then your best friend so you can tell her about the other things you couldn’t tell your mom, like, the fling you had and if you should add him on Facebook or not.
3. Rock Bottom
Now what? It seems that everyone is over listening to your stories and you’re no longer receiving a bountiful amount of likes, because let’s face it, the other 80% of your followers are just jealous bitches. So you browse through your albums again, smiling and giggling, until it hits you…it’s over. You need to move on. You feel your chest tighten for a second so you look at your calendar to check when your next vacation days are. Okay, three months isn’t that long. But then you log in your bank account, instantly crushing that tiny little hope you had.
You’re thankful for the experience and your new perspective about life, but nothing excites you at this point. What is there to look forward to on a Friday evening at the same ol’ bar? So you decide to stay in and possibly browse through the mementos for the 36th time instead of strutting your amazing tan. You’re receiving invites after invites because everyone seemed to have missed you but the anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure from things that normally would excite you, just got real.
You’re slowly getting it together and you’re finally starting to feel driven about life again. But first, you need a motivation. You have a new prospect destination so you commit to double shifts and overtimes to be able to fund your future trip. If you go on with life with your tedious 9-5 job, you will get there. But for now, you take it one day at a time.
6. Moving Forward w/ Higher Standards
Moving on with your normal life isn’t going to be easy. The bar has been raised. It won’t be easy to impress you now. Newport beach? Please, sweetie, no. You aren’t bathing yourself in a body of water unless it’s turquoise and your feet sinks into white, powdery sands. Not that brown dirt that hurts your feet. Unless you’re touching the clouds after a hike, it’s not Instagram worthy. Your favorite hole in the wall Pho restaurant doesn’t seem so authentic anymore. You feel cheated. All of a sudden, the mundane life and the simple things that came along with it you once thought you appreciated, no longer can make you happy.
Not only will you have higher expectations, but even your future travels will also leave you hungry for more, just like this previous trip did. There’s no satisfaction at this point, no matter how much you leave your comfort zone. You will crave more places, desire more depth, and yearn more knowledge. That’s the beauty of travel and the charm of this world. It widens your point of view, stretching your panorama as wide as possible as you hop from one place to another. It’s a gift and a curse, because you’ll never get enough.