Tom’s saxophone and salsa strategies for coping with reverse culture shock

I love talking to fellow travellers who, like me, have had some difficulty fitting back into their home country after spending time abroad. In this post, I’ve got an interview with Tom Bourlet who proves what I’ve long thought, that reverse culture shock can hit even if you’re only away for a few months. He spent three months travelling the USA coast to cast, and when his visa experied he very reluctantly returned to England. My favourite thing about Tom’s story is that he came up with some really excellent strategies for coping with reverse culture shock.

Strategies for coping with reverse culture shock

Tom Bourlet has some great strategies for coping with reverse culture shock (not just abseiling though)

Life back in England and reverse culture shock

When I returned home I managed to get a job lined up, however sorting out a house wasn’t quick, so I had to spend the first month living in a hostel, offering the feeling of travelling, without any of the joy. Once I got fully back into work and a new house, nothing quite felt the same as before I left.

Before I went to the USA, I was happy to work 60 hour weeks, spend every night torturing my body in the gym and living for the weekend. However something changed when I went travelling. It wasn’t the lack of things to do, as every day was choca block with activities and excursions. I think it was the freedom and the removal of stress that really made the difference.

I found following a month of being back into work, as I spent most of my time worrying about meeting deadlines and staring at computer screens all day and night, I began getting really bad headaches and constantly felt exhausted.

Strategies for coping with reverse culture shock

I think maybe one of my regrets was not taking a week off when I returned, as I was thrown right back into the deep end. One thing I would recommend to people returning is to begin planning your next trip. This might sound odd as you instantly start to crave jumping on a plane, however it gives you something to work for, something to motivate yourself to turn up to a job you maybe don’t enjoy that much and work yourself to the bone for, because you know at the end, you will be sipping pina coladas on a beach in Thailand.

Another recommendation is to take up hobbies and activities that you would normally only do when travelling. I took up saxophone lessons and salsa classes. This instantly added some great excitement to my week, while I felt like I was having great fun through the week, not just living for the weekend.

(Amanda says: I think this is a brilliant tip – a great way to deal with reverse culture shock in so many ways, because you’ll be meeting new people and learning new things, two of the biggest thrills of travelling, which will help you ease your way back into life at home.)

Strategies for coping with reverse culture shock

Tom Bourlet has fun when he travels!

Tom Bourlet is the creator of Spaghetti Traveller, and a Brighton based travel addict, who has covered most of Europe, as well as South and North America, however his ultimate aim is to see South East Asia and visit Halong Bay.

(Amanda says: Tom’s post on 100 things to do before you die is especially fun – you can tick boxes! Also, I love Tom because he spells traveller with two Ls, just like I do.)


Over to you: What hobbies would you take up to get over culture shock?

I love this idea – and I know one of the things I did when I returned to Perth was enrolling in Japanese lessons to keep up the language I learnt in Osaka. I have always wanted to play the saxophone though, I think I need to take a leaf out of Tom’s book. What hobby or activity do you long to take up?



  1. I’m with Tom, I think the best antidote to reverse culture shock/post holiday blues is to start planning your next trip. I have been known to start planning the next trip while I’m still travelling! It’s always good to have something to look forward to!

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