The 7 Stages of Grief When Coming Home

I think almost every traveler would agree that when asked, “what was the worst part about your trip”, the answer is always “coming home.” It’s probably the biggest first world problem out there to be in depression mode after returning from a big adventure, and basically everyone around you won’t be feeling even the least bit guilty for you, but the feeling of coming home from a trip straight up sucks. You truly go through the seven stages of grief, and here’s just kind of what it feels like.

Shock & Denial

When you first board the plane to come back home, it really doesn’t hit you. It doesn’t feel like you’re about to fly back to home, back to reality, until you literally step foot out of that airport. You refuse to believe your trip is coming to an end, even when your plane keeps reminding you with that dreaded map on the back of the seat in front of you informing you of how long you have until you’re home sweet home.


As the shock wears off and you finally realize that you aren’t living in a nightmare, the pain hits you like a ton of bricks. Nothing seems like home anymore despite the fact it was so familiar before you left. You actually feel physically ill (and no not just from jet lag) because suddenly those familiarities to you are no longer what you’re used to. The chaos of the Vietnam traffic, the language barrier, or the fact you couldn’t find a place that didn’t serve instant coffee, the things you thought you hated the most while away, are now suddenly the things you miss the most.


Why couldn’t you just quit reality and live there? Why do you need to come home to work, family, friends, and real life? The fact that you are home infuriates you. The fact that you can’t just live the dream frustrates you beyond belief. Why can’t you make more money so you can travel more often? Why doesn’t your work have unlimited vacation days? Gahhhhh..


Following the anger at everything that surrounds you in reality, comes the depression. You’re home, and it straight up sucks. It’s hard to have any motivation to get back into a normal routine of work, the gym, school, and even getting out of bed on the weekends is tough, because in reality, what on earth is going to happen that’s more exciting then your past adventure?

The Upward Turn

Soon your “physical” symptoms of being in post-trip depression mode seem to lessen. You are back into your regular routine, and remembering how great the familiar can actually be. Maybe where you live really isn’t that bad?

Acceptance & Hope

You’re home, and you had a great adventure, but without your regular life of work, and routine, you probably would’ve never been able to go on an adventure in the first place. You begin to realize that you are blessed for the adventure you just had, and have already started planning your next one. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and you can now officially accept that everyone needs to have a home, and good things must always come to an end.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    January 10, 2015 at 12:49 am

    Lauren, I really like this! I think like all grief, we all experience it in our own order and intensity, but I definitely felt a lot of these after my year abroad! Great article 🙂

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