How to adjust to a normal life after an amazing gap year

Ever heard of reverse culture-shock? I hadn’t either until I came back to Brisbane after spending a year living, working and travelling abroad. I was really excited to come home, but after spending so much time in different countries and experiencing so much, it felt weird being back in Brisbane. I was also struggling with a bad case of the post-holiday blues, which is one part of a  gap year nobody talks about.

It’s actually a little hard trying to come down off such a high, especially if you ended your lease, sold your car and all your junk, packed your life up into a few boxes and stored them at your parents’ house. So, how do you adjust to life back home after having an incredible time travelling the world? These are my tips to adjusting to life after an amazing gap year.

1. Save that cash!

You’re going to need money to set yourself up when you get home, so it’s important to budget, set some aside and resist the temptation to spend it all while you’re enjoying your last week of gap year freedom in Mykonos!

It’s easy to forget about all the things you’ll need to pay for when you’re trying to find a place to live, things like bond and rent in advance and maybe even a removalist to help you move your stuff into your new pad. You may need to get some furniture from Ikea or buy household items like a mop and bucket, cling wrap, salt and pepper grinders and ice-cube trays. It sounds silly, but those little things really start to add up and they’re the day-to-day household items you’ll really need.

Try to arrange to view some open houses or meet potential share-house flatmates shortly after you get back, you really want to hit the ground running. It’s all too easy to get into the routine of living back at home, so keep the gap year momentum going and pre-plan some inspections.

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2. Go after your dream job

I’m sure you will have gained some new life perspective while you were away, so channel that into how you approach your day-to-day life. Don’t put any pressure on yourself to resume your old life and be the same person you were before you left. Use your newfound passions and interests to guide you toward a new career.

Maybe you’ve always dreamed of becoming a hairdresser or a chef or finding mining or construction jobs? Maybe you had a great idea for a small business or, like me decided to follow your childhood passion and become a writer, photographer or artist.

I always find clarity and perspective while I’m travelling and if you do too, don’t ignore it. Use this fresh start as your launching platform for your dream career! It’s what I did.

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3. Make plans

If you hole up on your parent’s couch with a box of Cheezels and a PlayStation, you’ll definitely slip into an existential crisis and start wondering what you’re doing with your life. Combat this by making lots of plans. Plan to see your friends and catch up with people you missed while you were away and plan to spend a weekend at a friend’s house.

A few weeks after being back in Brisbane I was already planning my next trip, I didn’t know exactly how I was going to pay for it, but I knew I would work harder to get myself set up if I had a reward at the end of it. You’re more likely to be motivated to find a job if you have something you’re working towards financially, which can be as simple as a few nights in a hotel at the beach or something a bit more grand like a week in Thailand.

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4. Rediscover your hometown

There’s a good chance you’ll find your hometown pretty dull compared to the amazing places you’ve visited, but it’s a good opportunity to fall in love with your city again. I didn’t have a car and had to do a LOT of walking around Brisbane to see my friends and family. It was a really great opportunity though because I saw so many places I never knew existed and would never have seen if I’d just driven past them in my car.

Walking around Brisbane, taking photos and looking at it with my tourist eyes gave me a new appreciation for it. Sure, it doesn’t have the same history as Rome, but it does have its own history which is pretty cool when you take the time to notice and appreciate it. It might sound lame, but try to explore your hometown like you explored the places you visited during your gap year, you’ll see it in a completely different light.

Have you felt the post-holiday or post-gap-year blues? How did you cope readjusting to a ‘normal’ life after having so much freedom and so many adventures? I’d love to hear your story, please feel free to share in the comments 🙂

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Little Grey Box Phoebe Lee ProfilePhoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box, InstagramFacebook and YouTube.



Little Grey Box

I'm a writer and presenter and my husband Matt is a videographer. Together, we run Little Grey Box; an award-winning travel blog and YouTube channel.

14 thoughts on “How to adjust to a normal life after an amazing gap year

  1. Its certainly strange after coming back from a while of travelling. I somewhat look forward to coming home, to have western food, home comforts and to see family and friends. After about 3 weeks I am then booking my next trip away. Its an addiction.


  2. Reblogged this on Lifes New Beginning and commented:

    Some very true points Ive been dealing with also, Its crazy to think it has been a hole month since I left the amazing place of NEw Zealand

  3. So much of the post, and what was said in this comments seem to reflect exactly the feeling I’ve been having post year abroad. It’s kind of reassuring!

    1. I’m so glad, Emma! It’s reassuring to know those feelings are normal. One of my best friends is moving in with us for a few weeks after her gap year, cos she knows she’s going to have bad post holiday blues when she gets back and wants support. It’s tough!

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