the five stages of vacation withdrawal

thewino1It’s been four days since I’ve returned from the Jersey Shore, and I have to admit, I’m fully consumed by vacation withdrawal. As a travel enthusiast and ardent advocate of weekend getaways, I’m very familiar with the sequence of emotions that takes place after a really great trip.

I had full intentions of writing up a detailed vacation recap for you. But since I can’t break out of the funk I’ve gotten myself into the past couple of days, I thought I’d share with you a breakdown of the withdrawal process. Plus, of course, a few ways I’ve learned to cope.

My withdrawal typically goes a little like this:

Stage 1. Depression

Stage 1 occurs almost immediately after, and sometimes before, my trip is over. How did time go by so quickly? Do I really have to go back to reality?

How to cope: Unfortunately, there aren’t many coping mechanisms for this stage. Unless, of course, you count crying and temper tantrums. Which I do.

Stage 2. Anger

When my tears dry up, rage starts to take over. This is probably (definitely) the most irrational part of the withdrawal process. Why can’t I be wealthy so I never have to come back to work and can spend all my time traveling instead? If I can’t be independently wealthy, why can’t I have a lifelong anonymous benefactor that keeps my bank account stocked and my passport in action? Is it too much to ask to be born into the royal family so I can spend my life jetsetting to castles around the globe?!?! So much anger.

How to cope: Some of us have a harder time letting go of anger than others, and admittedly, I’m one of those people. I’ve learned a great way to channel my anger is to put it towards something constructive. For instance, I’ll volunteer to work a couple extra hours, so I know I’m making a few bucks that I can put towards my next vacation.

Stage 3. Jealousy

The anger stage leads quite naturally into Stage 3. This is the stage when your Facebook newsfeed becomes lethal. How on earth is that couple going on ANOTHER vacation, and who exactly is funding that girl’s six-month jaunt around Africa?!

How to cope: I was taught (and often reminded over the years) that the color green is not flattering on anyone, so I try to keep this stage limited to a day. Or two, depending on how sorry I feel for myself. Take a break from social media and treat yourself to a day in the sun instead.

Stage 4. Nostalgia

While pouring over other people’s vacation photos, I start to get reminiscent of my own. Other people’s beach photos remind me of the fourteen days I spent burying my toes in the sand. Ahhh the Jersey Shore. I miss thee.

How to cope: For the most part, vacation nostalgia is harmless, so let yourself bathe in those memories. Take aaaall the time you need.

Stage 5. Hope

I know I’m officially coming out off withdrawal when I can begin to get excited about my next trip. Why wallow when I can busy myself counting down to my next big adventure?

Though it takes me longer to get through some stages than others (ie. Stages 1-3), I have faith in the withdrawal process and know that in due time, I’ll be looking forward to my next vacation. And until I get there, I have my ways of coping. If all else fails, there’s always wine.


the wino

the five stages of vacation withdrawal







  1. July 13, 2012 / 03:36

    this post is spot-on! especially #3 – experience that a lot from reading travel blogs all the time..
    I’m still in withdrawal after being back home for a month already.

    • July 13, 2012 / 10:10

      we know your pain! the majority of our days are spent pouring over travel blogs, which means stage three can last a prettttttty long time. we recommend wine. lots and lots of wine.

      • December 21, 2015 / 06:00

        Hhahaha that’s exactly what I’m doing at the moment, drinking wine and going through hundreds of travel blogs, still jumping between anger and depression… When does this end???

        Locved your post, appreciated the humour 🙂

  2. mpm
    July 13, 2012 / 10:00

    I know those pics! And we’ll do it again! xo

  3. Annette
    July 14, 2012 / 11:23

    I go through withdrawl every time I come home, so I needed these tips on coping!

  4. July 16, 2012 / 02:33

    I LOVE this post!!! Not that I have no sympathy for your stages 1 through 3, I do. Been there, done that… I try to hop to 4 & 5 as soon as possible, sometimes with the help of a staycation…

    • July 16, 2012 / 09:55

      ahhh good idea! i think I’ve made it to the nostalgia stage at last…xo, the wino

  5. elatlboy
    July 16, 2012 / 11:09

    Great read. My withdrawal starts as soon as I get on the plane or start driving towards home. Going to new places locally is a great way to itch the travel bug. Getting to stage 4 and looking at photos, writing about trips in a way makes me feel like I am still there.

    • July 16, 2012 / 12:02

      ive been trying desperately to keep myself busy and my mind on things other than my long lost vacation. sigggh!

  6. July 16, 2012 / 11:58

    Oh we get the to look forward to all of the above in a just a few short weeks. Yayyyy… 🙁 boo hoo hoo..

    • July 16, 2012 / 12:02

      we’re here for you, kieu. us and wine- all you need.

  7. Sal
    July 16, 2012 / 13:43

    I love the shore, it is hard to leave!

  8. July 16, 2012 / 15:15

    This post truly hit all of the bases! We need a vacation withdrawal support group. “Hi my name is Tawny and I’m a Travelholic.” 🙂

  9. Mike
    July 16, 2012 / 15:43

    The second I get home , all I do is I plan.. when I am going to leave again 🙂

  10. July 17, 2012 / 08:54

    This is awesome! I just wrote about my own experience with PTD..Post Trip Depression:) Yesterday I was in the anger faze for sure…first day back to work. Hopefully I’ll get through the next few quick enough…

    • July 17, 2012 / 10:25

      the first day back at work is always the pits. hopefully you didn’t succumb to any crying or tantrums while there…

  11. Francesca
    July 17, 2012 / 14:30

    You nailed it! I do experience the same stages, but not necessarily in that same order. I *try* to start with stage 5 – ya know, planning my next trip before the current one is even over. If that doesn’t work… well, we start at #1.

    • July 17, 2012 / 15:46

      Ahh that’s good advice! Gonna try that next time. Stay tuned.

  12. July 18, 2012 / 07:36

    This is what I like about blogging. Instead of these negative stages I go through the uploading photo stage, followed by the sharing on Facebook and twitter stage, and then of course the blogging phase. These phases help negate the anger and depression.

    • July 18, 2012 / 18:13

      we go back and forth on how blogging helps us cope. sometimes it takes us right to stage four, but then sends us reeling back to stages 1-3. the solution we’ve come up with is that we should never stop traveling.

  13. July 19, 2012 / 15:18

    haha – love if all else fails, there’s wine! #truth. i hate vacation withdrawl and try to always have something else on the horizon. whether it’s an overnight a few weeks later or a bigger trip 6 months later – i HAVE to have a trip to look forward to. THE END

  14. Rizlan
    June 1, 2015 / 02:17

    Hope is not a plan!

  15. guus van der Hoorn
    March 23, 2016 / 01:11

    Avoid thinking at the last holiday when your back. Force yourself by hard labour to be back in reality. Enjoy only 2 min. a day to look at a recent holiday photo by thinking how it was that moment. Be satisfied and enjoy to see another photo next day same time.

  16. Jazz
    April 13, 2016 / 02:46

    Omg! i just got back from a trip to Thailand with my girlfriends, and this post captures my mood perfectly! I have just been rolling around like a depressed panda for 2 days now :/

  17. Maria
    May 24, 2016 / 10:03

    Spot on. Feeling even more withdrawals since coming back from the same place twice now.
    When it just feels like home to you and the dread of heading back to a feeling that feels like your going back to prison.

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