Coming Home From Traveling
You did it- you have traveled the world and now are home. Pretty awesome huh? You’ll have memories you will keep forever and friends for a lifetime. But now many people wonder what the next step is. After the glow of welcome back parties fade and you tire of telling the same stories, what do you do?
Coming home from a trip around the world can be a real culture shock and sometimes the initial excitement can wear away quickly to reality that you are no longer traveling. It can be a hard transition to deal with. You go from something new every day to the same thing every day. It’s not an easy adjustment for people, as the comments in the linked article can attest too. But there are also many good things about coming home. It’s good to see your family, sleep in your own bed, relax on your couch, and have mom make you breakfast. It’s good to see your pet again and even nicer knowing they missed you too. My dog almost knocked me down when I came home, though I suspect it’s just because he knows I’ll feed him.
Returning home from a long trip also gives you the chance to catch up with old friends. No matter how many people I meet on the road, no matter how many times I visit them on my travels, it’s still nice to come back to people who have known you five, 10 years, 15 years. People you grew up with and know pretty much everything about you. There’s a nice familiarity to that. Travel on the road changes you and it’s always interesting to see how life back home has changed my friend’s lives. I’ve come back to new couples, new kids, and new marriages.
One thing I love about coming home is seeing my old haunts and what’s changed. I’m amazed at all the new restaurants and buildings that have sprung up since I’ve been away. Everywhere I go something has changed. It’s sort of like traveling all over again. Additionally, I get excited to eat at all my favorite restaurants again. Returning from a trip can be a good chance to explore your home and find all the things that have changed. In some ways, it’s like traveling and can help keep that sense of adventure alive.
Moreover, with fresh eyes, you can get a new appreciation and insight into your own culture. Being back in America and traveling around to parts of it has made me realize that sometimes the states get a bum rap, even from me. There really are many nice places and people here. When travelers return back to their home country, they usually feel the same way. Seeing your home with fresh eyes is like being in a place for the first time.
Coming back home recharges your travel batteries. Traveling for a long time takes the excitement out of traveling. Eventually things just become “another”- another waterfall, another church, another jungle, another beach. You’ve seen it all before. Stopping on the road can help you refresh but it takes a trip back home to really wipe the slate clean. After 18 months on the road last year, I came home. I had even cut my trip short to do so. I was burnt out. But within a few weeks, I was ready to go. Coming back home gives you an appreciation for traveling all over again.
Back home, boredom can happen pretty fast if you don’t keep yourself busy. On the road you move around every day. Even if you keep yourself busy, returning home can be a little underwhelming sometimes. But stay positive and remember that coming home may be a hard adjustment, but it’s not all bad.
Here are a few ways that can help you cope with those emotions and get yourself moving:
Stay Busy- If you sit around thinking about the good times, you’re only going to resent being home and get depressed. Go out, get a job, get a hobby, join a gym. Even if you are super psyched to be home, the first few weeks are always rough as you adjust back into “normal” society. The best thing to do is to stay busy. One great way to stay busy is to be a tourist in your own city. Since you have been gone so long, things have probably changed. Go explore your town like you would Paris or Sydney. You’re bound to find something new and you’ll be able to feel as though you are back on a holiday while adjusting to home.
Plan Another Trip- If the thought of staying home is killing you, get out! Plan your next trip. Even if you never go. Go start looking up destinations. Buy a guidebook. Plan some routes. Look at flights. You’ll get in the mood and you’ll get excited. Even if your trip never materializes, at least you will be taking your mind off from the reality that it’s time to settle in one place for a bit. It makes coming home seem like a pit stop and not the finish line.
Get a Job- Getting a job ties into staying busy. By getting a job, you can take your mind off things and begin to put all your energy and new found sense of adventure to good use. It also helps you replenish your bank account so you can get to traveling again.
Take a Weekend Away- Going away for the weekend can keep your travel energy up and make you feel like you are just shifting gears not slamming on the breaks.
Read Travel Blogs- Because if you aren’t traveling, live through the people who are and get the motivation to get going again or even get motivated. A few recommended websites are: Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site, Almost Fearless, Travel Blissful, Matador Travel, and Vagabondish.
Coming home from the road is about adjusting back into the world you left and focusing on taking what you learned and applying it to your daily life. Many long term travelers end up leaving again, afflicted by a virus that will never be cured. Others stay home because their trip taught them that what they wanted the most was what they left behind. Either way, we all come home eventually and we’ll need to know how to cope with that experience.