On The Road To Feeling Weird
November 29, 2009 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Why do I feel so weird when I return home from a long car trip and how can I prevent these feelings?

Every time I take a long car trip, I feel very out of sorts when I get home. I always feel tired, restless, emotionally drained and generally icky. This never happens when I arrive at my destination, no matter how long the trip there is. Also, I feel just the same whether or not I am doing the driving.
posted by mmmbacon to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Me too. I also feel that way after a long movie. Some of it may be low blood sugar/exhaustion. Try eating a protein-ish snack before you arrive. Otherwise, I think it's just cognitive dissonance - you expect to feel comfortable in your home, but your still strung-out from the trip. Turn the tv or radio on and make a cup of tea. It will give you something to do as you re-acclimate.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:42 AM on November 29, 2009

Best answer: Maybe because—
* there is something wrong, emotionally or environmentally, with the place you live, or you are exhilarated on leaving it as a result of feeling you're escaping something
* you are saving up such feelings for when you get home, as a safe place.
posted by westerly at 9:43 AM on November 29, 2009

Best answer: that also happens to me. I find it is worse if my home is messy. I think it is because I idealize the return home and then find myself disappoint by my prosaic and messy apartment.

(it happens to me after any trip, not just car trips.)

Sometimes a shower helps. Definitely cleaning up before leaving for the trip helps.
posted by miss tea at 9:52 AM on November 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have the same experience. I think it's the anti-climatic feeling of the trip being over. We gear up for trips to a certain degree, and then are somewhat depressed when they're over. And I do agree with the comments above about coming home to a mess. I feel even worse when I arrive home to a a house that's more of a mess than the house was when I left -- this is usually due to my son making the house even messier than it was. : ) But there's another factor -- when we return home, we face all the WORK we have to return to. We're a bit away from that when we're gone. Who wouldn't be depressed by that?
posted by Teri T at 11:07 AM on November 29, 2009

Back to life, back to reality. It's not fun.
posted by Neekee at 11:09 AM on November 29, 2009

Best answer: No idea why this is happening to you, but I used to experience similar feelings after travel (not just car trips; is that the only travel that affects you like this?). And sometimes, too, after nothing more than a pleasant night or day out with friends.

It seems to me these feelings were, echoing westerly, about re-experiencing the frustrations and limitations of my life as embodied in my home and surroundings upon returning to them, which feelings had mostly disappeared during the travel. These were especially acute if I'd been inspired or excited during the trip and had been looking forward to bringing this energy back with me. Returning home was always a bit shocking as I felt the energy and reality of home replacing and overpowering the energy of the trip instead, despite all my efforts to retain the excitement. Bringing exciting things home with me could definitely help…

This all stopped, mostly, when I rearranged my life to be more self-directed. Travel now feels more like an interruption, no matter how pleasant, and less like an escape. Back then I wasn't really ready to admit to myself that travel WAS an escape, but I was often aware that the emotional ambience of my life was "quiet desperation."
posted by dpcoffin at 11:30 AM on November 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This might sound weird, but you might also want to try making sure you are hydrated during the trip. I've found that I get this feeling less if I make sure to eat and drink properly while on the road.
posted by ishotjr at 1:11 PM on November 29, 2009

do you live alone?
does it matter if you come home alone, or to your loved one(s), or with them?

to me it does (fortunately), a great deal. I experience your weird coming home feelings in different degrees: most if I come home with wife & kids, a little if I come home alone, and barely if my wife and kids are home and I come back from a trip. Nutrition and tiredness is a factor, but fitting my wandering self back into the fixed and unwavering daily mold resonates much more with me. The welcome by my family sort of dilutes that; coming home alone allows me to continue my lack of organization and structure for a little bit.
posted by gijsvs at 1:41 PM on November 29, 2009

Taking a trip is a lot of work! You use up all your mental reserves and a lot of your physical ones. You spend lots of energy being bright and cheerful and talking to people you don't know. You probably don't eat healthy food. But your body keeps going because you're ON HOLIDAY! As soon as you get back, the adrenaline you were running on (or whatever it is) goes away, and you're simply tired and in need of a break.
posted by emilyw at 4:12 PM on November 29, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you for all the insightful answers!

I think that it was probably a combination of finally relaxing after dealing with relatives as weekend, not eating/drinking enough, and coming home to a dirty house.

Next time, we'll do do things a little differently.

(And yes, this sort of mental fatigue only occurs after car trips. Car trips = trips to see relations, so that might be what's up.)
posted by mmmbacon at 7:07 AM on December 2, 2009

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