Picture this: It’s the middle of a random day in a random week of work. What could sound better than the idea of a nice vacation? So you save, and you wait, and finally, the date you marked on your calendar arrives. You have a week away from work and an island paradise to enjoy. Why then, on the second day, do you feel like coming home?

It’s a phenomenon that most aren’t willing to admit to but many actually feel. It even has a catchy nickname, the mid-trip crisis.

Mid-Trip Crisis

The leading theory on the cause of the mid-trip crisis is that by its very definition, vacations make people feel less fulfilled. For many, fulfillment comes from a mixture of feeling like you belong and feeling like you have some sort of purpose.

On vacation, you are often a stranger in a strange land with zero responsibilities. It sounds great when your boss is being annoying and you feel the crushing weight of a major project on your shoulders. However, once you get where you’re going, you’ll be surprised at how fast you start checking your business e-mail.

You’re in a foreign country where you may or may not know the language. Despite your best efforts, you may as well have tourist stamped on your forehead. It’s understandable for there to be a level of isolation, which is the last thing you want to feel during something you’ve been so looking forward to.

Unfortunately, traveling with others doesn’t always alleviate the problem. In fact, couple and group vacations can sometimes strain relationships, further compounding your desire to come home.

Broader Scope

When these feelings are taken out of the lens of vacation, they make a fairly profound statement about the human experience. It’s one thing when you can’t make meaningful connections on a trip; it’s another when you struggle to do so at all. The feeling of aimlessness that gnaws at travelers can eat away at anyone. What’s worse, when people feel like “coming home” from their regular life is the only option, the results are far more permanent and far more devastating.

Mid-trip crisis is an extremely eye-opening microcosm of depression at large. It can be difficult to notice (or admit) depression in yourself. It can be almost impossible to notice it in others. A lot of that comes from lack of understanding and misinformation. There doesn’t have to seem like anything is wrong for a person to feel like something is wrong.

What Can You Do?

First and foremost, seek the aid of a professional. You don’t have to go through any of this alone. I’m about to list off a few things that may help, but I am not a psychologist.

Let’s see if returning to the microcosm provides any insight into the broader issue.

In order to retain your sense of purpose while on vacation, try to stick to many of your usual habits. Use the hotel gym; get your morning coffee, anything to mimic your regular routine.

Give in to that temptation to do some work. The whole point of vacation is downtime. Do what you want. If what you want to do happens to be work, so be it.

Travel around something. Going off aimlessly is unsurprisingly likely to make you feel…aimless. Have something to look forward to like a concert, festival, volunteer program, game, whatever.

When it comes to making connections, look for other tourists. Locals can usually spot tourists and their intentions aren’t always going to have your best interests in mind. Tourists are usually in the same boat as you. Not only can you help each other get more acclimated with your new environment, but you also bring unique life experiences that brought you to the same place.

I don’t know about you, but I think some of the tricks that can help fight the mid-trip crisis might just translate to everyday life as well. Hope it helps.