5 ways to get over a post vacation hangover: Expat version

One minute I was in Virginia, enjoying the breathtakingly beautiful skies, the refreshing lush greenery, walking down the aisles of Target with a macchiato in hand and the next, I had returned to the Doha sandpit where temperatures were a miserable 110F with dust, massive construction zones and the never-ending quest to find good tasting fresh milk.

(Left) Great Falls, VA                                             (Right) Doha, Qatar

What later followed were many days of low spirits and general gloominess. I struggled with my blog posts, my mind was in a million places, and everything seemed dismal and bleak.

Diagnosis: Post vacation hangover.

It’s not something new. It happens every single time I return. However, add the expat equation into the mix, and it poses a myriad of questions to my already existing dismal thoughts!

Was moving here the right decision in the first place? Am I truly happy here? Are kids happy here? Will they adjust if we ever move back? Why am I using the word ‘ever’? I mean, we will – right? Do my kids have access to opportunities here and if not, does the experience of a culturally diverse environment outweigh the lack of them.


Needless to say, I had to pull myself out of this! Here are five things that have helped me re-acclimatize to everyday life, that may help you too, if you are suffering from a post vacation hangover, the expat version.

  1. Reconnect with friends

    I probably avoid this the most after I get back. I always need my space, (blame it on my introversion), but one of the things that makes Doha home, is the friendships I have cultivated here. Friends are amazing everywhere, whether it is back home, or in your expat ‘home’. Call them up! Or in my case, just whatsapp!
    These friends are the ones, who can get you out of your post vacation blues. They message you at 7am, to make sure you get yourself to the gym that day. They are the ones, that come pick you up and take you out for dessert, because they know you are sitting home in PJ’s sulking. They are the ones who will tirelessly go through the pros and cons list of living here ‘vs’ there with you, till 2am, because let’s face it. They are jet lagged too.

    Image credit : Shutterstock


  3. Home Projects

    Since this is home for now, might as well make it feel like one. Even though, we have been in this house for a good six years now, it could always use a new coat of paint, some fresh ideas and a bit of refurnishing to spruce it back to life.
    My son took to re-doing his room, which meant several trips to IKEA, buying paint colors, and me being part-mom part-handyman for a while.

    I myself tackled a ‘under the stairs project’ that I had wanted to do for a very long time. It was a small space that lacked character, but was visually important in the house. Jumping into home projects like these, unleashes your creativity, makes a house a ‘home’ and the end results are often very gratifying!



    Some details on the home improvements


  5. Prepare a special meal

    I always feel like taking the time out to prepare a special meal works wonders for my soul. Sometimes it is making a steak dinner, or baking some chocolate chip cookies. Of course, if cooking stresses you out, then this might not be for you. But I feel sharing meals creates all kinds of crazy happiness! I make some good old-fashioned comfort food (like mom would make), or meals that my family loves! Also, as a side note, maybe go easy on the carbs, because we all know how the vacation food went down!!

    Grilled rib eye steak with a mushroom gravy and a side of asparagus, baked sweet potato wedges and a cranberry pecan salad


  6. Return to a familiar place

    Return to a local restaurant, park or street vendor. Your happy place. For me, it is a cafe right by my children’s school, that I frequent. I went there last week, and the barista remembered my order. That familiarity of him saying, will you have your usual and adding the extra chocolate covered mocha beans on the side just like I want. Perfection. On the other hand, returning to just your local grocery store may have similar feelings. I went back to stock up on groceries, after my summer holidays. As I made my way to the cashier, the bagging guy, asks, ‘I haven’t seen you in a long time. Were you away for summer?’

    Coffee at my local hangout


  8. Shifting Perspective

    Probably the most important in this list and arguably the hardest, is shifting your perspective. Training your mind to make the most of the country you and are in, and not what you have left behind. I have not in way achieved this yet, but it is definitely a work in progress. Happiness is a state of mind. It is not a place, or city or country. You can choose to be happy anywhere. Count your blessings!

    Museum of Islamic Art. Doha, Qatar


If you have tackled the post vacation hangover, or if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear from you!

18 thoughts on “5 ways to get over a post vacation hangover: Expat version

  1. Nadia, I love your ideas on curing post vacation hangover! I just got back from a long vacation in Houston, LA, and Las Vegas. Reconnecting with friends, tackling home projects, and returning to a familiar place are great ways to find your joy again. I would also add this tip: find something new in the place where you live. I found three in the last month: a new park to run, a new coffee shop to work, and an Aldi store (my greatest discovery of this summer). I will be sharing this post. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Agree with all mentioned!! However, getting back to school right after the return from holidays has helped me get over the blues much faster than anticipated. There was no time left for sitting in pj’s!!! I’m glad we planned the travel dates that way.

    The “under the stairs project” has come out really well!!! I could see it coming up just the way we had discussed but couldn’t wait to see it all finished. Enjoy your spot!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m writing this from my spot. A coffee mug on the table, lights on and I just need to add some light music to make it perfect. Thanks for all your help with the ideas!

      I do like your idea of coming back closer to the school opening. Will consider it next time!


  3. Every time I walk through your door, I have to do a double take at the under stairs project. It looks even more incredible in person! Transports you to a quaint little corner-bubble in NYC… love love love.

    In regards to vacation blues, I personally adapt very well. I guess it’s something like how some people are more prone to jet lag than others. On the other hand, you must have been having some vacation!

    And then it’s just a matter of waiting before schools start. There’s nothing quite like school to drag you out of your own emotional whirlpool!


    • Thanks! I think I did want to incorporate a little bit of ‘home’ in my corner. It’s the perfect spot to hang out with a big coffee mug and good book.

      You are absolutely right. The adjusting varies from person to person. Some of the friends I know, just want to come back to Doha, so they can get back into their everyday routine.
      And there is nothing like a crazy car ride with ‘Castle on the Hill’ blaring to get me out of my blues!


  4. Hey! That was a perfect summary of post-vacation blues. We have such complicated feelings being expats! Always on the fence, not sure if this was the right decision, and then constantly wondering what our “alternate” life would look like if we were living in the US. I love being mentioned in your posts btw 😜.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey! Loved your post! I can totally relate, right now the thing I’m missing the most is some good, soft white bread😔. But it’s always good to be home and the best part is seeing your friends and hearing about everything you’ve missed in the 2 months everyone’s been away. Btw- love love love what you’ve done with your under the stairs space❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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