The big adventure is over. Now what?
Coming back from a long overland journey can be a big culture shock, but don’t worry. Post-travel blues are manageable, as long as you don’t give in, keep some perspective, and use your new experiences in creative ways!
Here are some guidelines to help you combat the post-travel depression.
You’re not alone. Many, if not most, people who have been on the road for longer than six months experience a varying degree of post-adventure blues. For some it’s easier, while others really struggle to settle back into their old life at home. For me personally, coming back home after eighteen months of riding my bike across South America was very difficult. I was depressed, couldn’t connect to my friends and family anymore, felt lost, and didn’t quite know what to do with myself. But worst of all, I felt completely alone. Nobody back home understood what I was going through, and I felt like an outcast and a freak.
The reality is, you’re not alone. Lots of travelers feel the same way once they get home, so reach out to them! Join online forums and communities, Facebook groups, and attend adventure riders’ events and rallies. Talking about your experience of being home after a long journey is a big help!
Change Your Circumstances
Very few people come back from the road the same. If you’ve been traveling for a prolonged period of time, chances are, you’ve changed – and that’s a good thing. But instead of trying to mold yourself back into the life and reality you had left, why not try and change it instead?
Many adventure travelers change locations, homes, and even careers when they come back from a long journey. What are you passionate about now? What interests you the most? What gives you meaning and fulfillment? Figure out what you could do differently and do it – even if it feels scary.
Did you blog or keep a diary on the road? Did you take photos and videos? Now is a good time to go through everything, sort out the journal entries and pictures, and relive some of the best – and worst – moments of the road. Consider putting a few presentations for your local motorcycle club or event, or maybe even create a book.
Writing helps to gain some clarity, so once you’re done sorting through your travel materials, keep on writing every day and see what stands out.
Don’t let your bike collect dust in the garage! Keep riding because it will keep your spirits up. Do short weekend camping trips, commute to work, take a few days off to explore a national park or an interesting area nearby. You might find you don’t need to ride around the world to have an adventure!
Stay In Touch
You’ve met so many amazing people on the road, so stay in touch with them via email, phone, or social media. Follow other adventurers’ journeys. Invite travelers to stay at your place, and post information about the best adventure riding spots and attractions in your area. Give back to the community now that you’re home.
Never Forget the Freedom
When asked what they loved most about being on the road, most people will say “freedom.” But the end of the journey doesn’t mean you’ve lost your freedom. You just have to find a new way to live freely. And it doesn’t mean you can’t be responsible. Freedom isn’t an absence of commitment and responsibility, it’s an inner feeling of peace. Find your peace in your work, your relationships, and your environment, whatever that might mean to you.
Hit the Road Again
If all fails, just get on your bike and go. After a year and a half back in Europe trying to get to grips with “normal” life and everyday realities, I realized this just wasn’t for me. I now live on the road as a digital nomad without a return date, and am insanely happy with my choice. It isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t always a solution.
But if you really, truly feel that the road is calling – answer the call.