Traveler Camper's Guide : Dealing With Reverse Culture Shock

Posted by Daniel Collins on

Dealing With Reverse Culture Shock

So much time is spent in preparing for a trip overseas..

The packing, scheduling, and planning doing everything you can to make sure that this trip goes swimmingly. When you're finally unpacked in your new location there's a sigh of release coupled with a building anticipation for all the sites you have on your list and spontaneous experiences sure to follow.

This is what makes traveling great it's like a new start and there's a rush that comes with venturing far away from home.

However have you experienced that culture shock when you return to your home country? It's crazy how you take for granted the subtle mannerisms and cultural differences unique to each location. Nearly every traveler experiences the reverse culture shock when they return home. Some may even find that the reverse culture shock is harder to deal with than the initial jarring experience you experience when arriving in a new country.

Reverse culture shock tends to be most severe for study abroad students and long-term travelers, but even short-term travelers can find it difficult to readjust when returning home. To some the experience is similar to a depression ( not what you'd expect after having such a great time abroad)


For many of you, your trip to Europe will be your first experience overseas, and more importantly, it will be the first time you’re truly free to enjoy your environment fully without he normal stresses of everyday life. You’ll be exposed to a different way of looking at life, and it’s almost guaranteed that world view will shift. You’ll realize that some of the ways you've become so used to doing things aren't natural thought for other people. When your normal becomes strange there's a culture shock that occurs.

It's very common for you to reevaluate everything that have become unconscious for you. Don't be too surprised if you start to re-examine your priorities, values, and worldview. It’s a gradual process, and you probably won’t fully realize how far your perspective has shifted until you return home. This isn't something to feared rather it's part of the beautiful of traveling to a foreign destination.

Once you’re back home and instantly submerged in what once was your everyday routine things ironically seem to be more foreign than you'd expect. This is when the reverse culture shock begins to take it's toll. You may even find that your old priorities don't seem to hold as much value or importance as before.

The experience isn't the same for everyone for some just readjusting to work and the daily grind is the most difficult part. Now you have to shift ot of vacation mode back into your normal schedule.


Reverse Culture Shock is something psychologists have been studying for years. It is very interesting to see how the human experience is affected by travel and readjustment.
Here some commonly difficult challenges you may face upon returning home from traveling abroad.

Boredom — Traveling is filled with excitement as you're constantly experiencing new things. After weeks or months of continual stimulation and novelty home may become more and more boring by comparison. There just isn't the same rush in the mundane routine which is probably one of the reasons you wanted to take a trip in the first place. Not to worry though this feeling of boredom fades with time.

Your Friends and Family Aren’t Interested — You’ve just gone through a life-changing trip, but everyone back home hasn’t. You can't really expect them to relate to your experience and excitement. Your was unique and personal to you. Sure, they’ll listen to your stories, but after a while their joy in hearing about you travels will fade.

Don't make the mistake of constantly comparing home to the country you've just came from. For example it isn't a great idea to constantly begin your conversations with “In Europe they do it like this…” or “When I was in Europe…”. If you do you'll begin to notice all your listeners eyes gloss over.

You'll just have to accept that people just aren’t that interested. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever talk about your travels, but have empathy that those who didn't have the pleasure of traveling with won't have the same excitement as you when it comes to all the sites you've seen and the new things you've learned. As a side note,constantly talking about your travels can come off as pretentious.

Trouble Explaining Your Travels — This draws on the last point. Many travelers get frustrated when conveying their travels to other people, especially when others can't fully comprehend what the experience was like. The experience of traveling goes beyond words, you have to be there to understand. It’s like trying to describe a movie to someone that’s never seen it. No matter how hard you try they just won't get the same experience for themselves.

Reverse Homesickness — If you lived/traveled overseas for an extended period of time, you’ll start to feel homesick for the other location. You start comparing both locations and reminisce over all the positive things from your previous trip. You forget all about the negative things from the foreign destination and over-romanticize it. This can lead to a depressive state.

Relationship Changes — It’s very common for the relationships between you and your friends and family to change. That’s because your worldview and priorities in life have probably changed as a result of your travels. This can cause friction and misunderstanding. This can also lead to feelings of alienation because your friends just don't understand where you're coming from. They don’t understand you like they once did.

Feeling Out of Place in Your Own Culture — You’ve changed and you now carry a piece of your international experience and culture with you. This can lead to a feeling that you’re a bit of an outsider in your own culture.

Home Has Changed – The world is always moving, don't be surprised if things aren't the same when you get back.

Return To the Routine — Getting back into a routine can be difficult for you. Especially if you’ve spent an extended amount of time with no real routine. And it’s not just about going to work. It’s the routine of everything from grocery shopping to driving, watching TV, etc. Additionally, all your old worries (student loans, jobs, money, etc.) are still there waiting on you.


Most experts say the best thing is to simply give yourself time.
If you can’t seem to shake those post-trip blues, you can try some of the following things:
Accept Change — You’re a different person, and it helps to simply accept it.
Exercise — Getting that blood flowing is a natural anti-depressant.
Hang Out With Friends — Find people that make you happy and don’t isolate yourself.
Find Other Travelers — Other travelers understand what you’re going though and they’re more apt to be interested in your travel stories.
Limit Talking About Your Time Abroad — Unless you’re asked, try to limit how much you talk about your time abroad. Talking about it too much will repel people and it makes you look pretentious.
Seek Out The Culture — If there are expats in your town, seek them out or watch movies from the country you lived in.


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